Dear Amy: I am getting married in August to an incredible guy. He's kind, patient, hardworking, fun-loving, and we have a common picture of our future. The only problem is his family.
His parents frequently lie to each other and then confide in their children about it. They are bigoted toward LGBTQ people, and people of color. They spend money carelessly, are in huge amounts of debt, and then ask us for money. They were horrified when I told them I'd be keeping my own name when we got married.
I am an opinionated woman. I speak my mind openly (and thoughtfully). I am perfectly capable of standing up for myself and for others, and I have done so on many occasions. They don't value this.
In the past, when I speak my mind (in a manner deemed calm and respectful by myself, my fiance, and my therapist), it leads to his mother and sister crying for weeks and then calling my fiance to tell him about it. Whenever his mother calls him, she will end the call quickly if she finds out I am in the room.
My fiance and I are on the same page. We have our own household with its own values. But I worry a lot about having to deal with all of this for the rest of my life.
Are difficult in-laws a good enough reason to not get married or to hold off getting married? Or does everybody go through this? After all, this is not my fiance's fault, and their behavior is not within his control. Am I just getting cold feet? — Cold Feet
Dear Cold Feet: Having cold feet — no matter the underlying reasons — would be a legitimate justification to hold off on getting married.
When you marry someone, you sidle into your spouse's family system — for better (often), but also for worse.
Even if you have relatively little to do with your partner's family — it sounds as if you and your fiance have enough contact with them that they continually upset you (and you, them).
This is a test of your ability to tolerate people you don't respect, and behavior you don't like. My suggestion is that you figure out how not to care so much about what they think and how they behave, unless their behavior is directed specifically toward you. Given your own strong and outspoken nature, I wonder if you are capable of detaching to this extent.
It is also vital that you and your fiance be on the same page regarding their debt, money trouble, and requests for bailouts. This will likely get more intense as they age.
This is a topic you and your fiance should discuss at length in your premarital counseling sessions. Of the two of you, he's the one I truly worry about. If things continue as they are, he is going to feel trapped between two cyclones.
Dear Amy: I've noticed that my mom seems to be much more tired and stressed out lately than she usually is.
I desperately want to help her, but I don't know how.
Any suggestions? — Worried 12-year-old
Dear Worried: This is a really stressful time for everyone — you included. You can ask your mom if there are some household chores you could take on, like clearing the table and doing the dishes after dinner, scouring the bathtub, watering the plants, and taking care of your pets (if you have them).
Your mom is probably like most moms — and she doesn't want you to worry about her. You doing well in your own life (school, activities, and friendships) will help her a lot, because knowing you are OK is probably her first priority.
And kind gestures like bringing her a cup of her favorite tea and leaving her a note on the kitchen table (telling her how much you appreciate her), will make her feel really loved and taken care of. This will help with her stress.
Dear Amy: "Paul" wrote to you, expressing his reluctance to give out his phone number to the receptionist when he gets his hair cut, or to the greeter when he is waiting for a table at a restaurant.
Paul should realize that his phone number could be crucial in the current pandemic fight. Phone numbers can be used for "contact tracing," if there is an outbreak. — Avid Reader
Dear Reader: I've been reading about how useful our phones will become in terms of tracking the COVID virus. Thank you.