Dear Carolyn: I have a niece in her 20s. She’s been living on her own for years, far from me and her parents.
She’s become engaged to a man her parents have met briefly. I have not met him. Her parents are very hostile to their wedding plans. I’d like to reach out to my niece in support, but I’m not sure how to go about it.
She moved recently and I don’t have her address. If I ask her parents for her address it will raise a red flag, but I do want her to hear at least one positive voice over her engagement. If I contact her, I also risk her telling her parents, who will be mad at me. Looking for a safe road through the minefield.
— Concerned Aunt
Concerned Aunt: If you’re not close enough to know how to get in touch with her, then I’m not sure you’re close enough to her to be a significant source of support for her right now.
Plus, countering her parents’ message is your only motive; you know nothing of this guy; and your niece might use your support as leverage against her parents, right? Thus the “red flag” of just getting contact information? Scenes like this usually involve caution tape.
You can, of course, always, get in touch with your niece just to say hi and congratulations, assuming you can restrain yourself enough to stay in a listening role. For this, you can request your niece’s contact info without guilt or ulterior motive.
Dear Carolyn: My first anniversary is coming up, and I haven’t sent thank-you notes. I know. I know. But — I really have been busy. I lost my job a month before the wedding. I was focused on finding work and then I got a job (a temp position) and then was focused on finding a permanent job, which I did, and then was focused on keeping that one. Plus I work a second job and have a side hustle, too, for extra cash.
I’ve tried several times to finish. All I managed to do was print out a form letter to send everyone (which is now out of date) and write thank-yous to five people. Should I just give up? Send them out? I literally don’t have a free night or weekend for seven more weeks. My husband has offered to help, so that’s not the issue. He helps with the side business, so he’s just as busy.
I’ve thanked people locally but there are others who were not local. What to do?
— I’ve Tried
I’ve Tried: Make a list of gift givers you haven’t thanked, and split the list in half between you and your husband.
Offered to “help”? Pah. The gifts were for both of you, so you both say thank you and you don’t position yourself to be the social load-bearing entity in your marriage because that idea is so tired and tiring.
But: Yes. Just send them. Email if you have to, at the rate of one a week if that’s all you can manage. To speed it up, use a template: “We’re not ungrateful, we’re just late,” or some such. If you need updated addresses, ask sympathetic family or friends to help.