Ask Amy: Man can heal estrangement with forgiveness

February 14

DEAR AMY: I’m a gay man estranged from my two sisters. My family has been supportive, but my sisters married men who are not gay-friendly. Both sisters used to be fairly progressive but since marriage they’ve become echo chambers for their husbands’ opinions. Things came to a head during the last presidential election.

I explained that if they wanted to vote for someone who felt I don’t deserve rights, I would at least appreciate not having their vote shoved in my face.

One sister did shove it in my face. There was a short, unpleasant exchange over Facebook and text, and I haven’t spoken to either sister since.

My aunt has asked me to send a card to the less obnoxious sister, who is upset about the situation. And that’s where I’m stuck.

I love my partner and plan to propose to him this summer. I attended both of my sisters’ weddings; I won’t be inviting them to mine.

Part of me wants to mend things with my more reasonable sister, but I can’t get past the fact that she has adopted religious and political views that deny me the right to marry my partner, keep my job and live a life free of violence.

I would never vote for a political candidate who voted against women’s rights. I would never date or marry a misogynist.

Am I being completely unreasonable? Should I attempt to contact her? What can I say to her to explain the situation without acrimony? -- With Friends Like This

DEAR FRIENDS: Why isn’t your more reasonable and upset sister sending a card to you? Perhaps you had the last word in this nasty exchange and the ball is more or less in your court.

You should do what makes you feel best about yourself and what makes you feel like the person (and brother) you want to be.

Many of us are members of families that are held together by little more than shared experiences (good and bad) and forgiveness. You should at least consider experiencing forgiveness at its most challenging level — when your forgiving someone does nothing to change the outcome but does everything to change how you feel. You don’t announce your forgiveness; you just do it and feel the change within.

DEAR AMY: My mother-in-law is demanding we attend a family reunion at a very expensive resort, requiring a 16-hour drive or costly flights.

For 20 years, I have had to pick up all costs related to my ungrateful in-laws (including my wife’s mother, her two brothers and their families).

They are freeloaders. “Mom” is effectively using the guilt card on my wife by calling this her 75th birthday celebration (although her birthday is in a different month).

She has chosen the date of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary for this family reunion. Everyone knows we are planning a party for my parents.

I have bit my tongue for years. I want to discuss this directly with my mother-in-law and tell her that a planned 50th anniversary takes precedence and we will show up for a portion of her trip but will only be paying for my family. What do you think of this approach? -- Fed Up

DEAR FED UP: I’m with you -- but what took you so long? Keep your statement short, neutral, calm and clear; and do not budge for manipulations.

DEAR AMY: Our school had a situation similar to “Disabled and Distressed,” that involved the same two parents always parking in our handicap parking spots.

We had asked both of them on many occasions to park in the regular parking spots. Neither did. We finally called our police department and they gave us a simple solution: Take pictures of the vehicles parked in the spots and e-mail the pictures to the officer assigned. One picture showed the full vehicle in the spot with the sign and the other of the license plate.

We did. We received an e-mail saying their tickets had been mailed to them and we haven’t had this problem since. -- Happy Teacher

DEAR TEACHER: It is maddening to think that these parents have so little respect, for the law or for you. But your response was perfect. Thank you.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune

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