Ask Amy: In polite company, politics is usual topic

July 28, 2012

DEAR AMY: The community I live in has many people who feel very strongly about politics. These people are so rabid and strident in their positions that they can’t seem to shut up about it at a lunch or dinner party.

I feel strongly about issues that are important to me, too, but I do not enjoy listening to people ranting against either the Democrats or the Republicans.

I recently had lunch with friends, and one woman, “Barbara,” launched into politics (as usual). When I pointed out that “friends who don’t talk politics stay friends,” Barbara laughed it off and continued her diatribe. At this point, I don’t think she can help herself.

Is my only option to quit having lunch with Barbara and others like her, or do you have a better idea? All suggestions will be gratefully received! -- Fed Up

DEAR FED UP: If everyone in a group is engaged in a spirited discussion that is dominated by a topic (and not an individual), then you’d be wise to hop on board rather than try to dictate what people can discuss in your presence.

You can try to control the conversation through diverting it to a topic you find interesting — just as “Barbara” is doing — but really the primary requirement in polite company is that people remain civil.

If you find that an individual (or group) consistently rants about a predictable dominant topic that you aren’t interested in, and that every social gathering seems like a political conclave, then you’ll want to avoid this company, at least until after the November election.

DEAR AMY: On July 28, my wife and I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a big occasion for us.

A few months back I was thinking about our upcoming anniversary and I realized something remarkable was about to happen on my wife’s side of the family: My wife and I will be the last of 10 siblings to celebrate a golden anniversary.

Ten out of 10 siblings to celebrate 50 years of matrimony!

When my wife was 4 years old, her mother and father passed away within seven months of each other and her three eldest sisters (who were married) kept the remaining seven children together. Wow!

I was wondering if any of your readers know of, or have knowledge of, 10 out of 10 siblings (or more) who have celebrated their golden anniversaries? -- Lucky

DEAR LUCKY: This is a remarkable statistic. Congratulations to all of you.

My research for this column has taught me that there are many ingredients contributing to long marriages, but the culture within a family is a big factor (as is the simple longevity of the people involved, which also runs in families).

I’ll happily look into this and run responses in future columns.

DEAR AMY: Recently, my husband of five years has begun picking up whatever I am drinking, drinking from it, and setting it back down.

Sometimes he is eating when he does this. He became very offended when I complained. I think there is more to this than a simple, albeit rude, stealing of my beverage (after he drinks from it, I don’t want it anymore).

Am I being too sensitive? Or is he being horribly rude? And why would he start this after so long? -- Leveraged Beverage

DEAR LEVERAGED: Your husband is being rude and you are being sensitive.

The kindest interpretation of this behavior is that your husband has reached a comfort level in your relationship where your lives (and beverages) have truly merged. Swapping spit in this way is intimate, to say the least.

Another interpretation is that this is an assertion of power on his part, or that it is unconscious to the point of being inconsiderate. And yes — any way you slurp it, this is rude.

Some couples seem to share everything easily, but I believe that in marriage (as elsewhere) a person has a right to enjoy his or her beverage unmolested.

Talk about this during a time when he is not doing it. Say, “This might seem like a small thing to you, but it really bothers me. Can you try harder not to do this?”

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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