Ask Amy: Cultural divide leads to family estrangement
Dear Amy: My eldest daughter got married five years ago. My husband and I were not consulted about the wedding and were shocked when she told us she was getting married.
My husband refused to go to the wedding and has not spoken to her since.
I’m in the middle of all this upset, so I now rarely have contact with her.
I understand why he was so angry, as family and weddings are very important in his culture. He is unable to forget the disrespect she showed us both.
This has caused so many arguments that I’ve considered leaving him. I’m ashamed to admit I sometimes wish he was just ... gone.
I feel like running away.
Can you offer any advice for me? — A
Dear A: It is ironic that family and weddings are revered in your husband’s culture, and yet he has decided to sever a relationship with his own child. That’s the opposite of reverence.
Your husband may have renounced his own fatherhood, but he doesn’t have the right to remove your daughter from your life.
Currently, the family geometry is a straight line: Your husband on a point at one end, your daughter at the other, and you in the middle.
Maybe you can manipulate this into a triangle. You are on an axis with your daughter. You communicate with her along that axis as much as you want to.
You are on an axis with your husband, communicating along that axis.
The axis between your daughter and your husband exists and is open, in case either wants to try to close it.
You have a right to have a relationship with your own daughter, on whatever terms you and she set.
I understand that if you have this relationship openly, your husband could make your life tough, and if that is the case you will have to make a challenging decision about your own marriage.
A therapist, clergy, or an elder from your husband’s native culture might be able to mediate this between the two of you — or simply talk some sense into him.
Dear Amy: I have a very dear friend who I have known for many years.
I share things with her that I never share with anyone else.
I have been trying to open a savings account with her as the beneficiary; however, I need her Social Security number to do this.
With the pandemic, appointments at the bank are difficult to get.
I opened an account with my son as the POD a few years ago and he did not need to be there. He provided his Social Security number later.
When the bank manager finished the account, I said my friend would stop by with her SS number.
The bank would not allow that.
I called my friend and she was reluctant to provide it over the phone.
She said she would come to the bank, so I waited, holding up other customers. My friend then went to the wrong bank.
I left, really hurt!
I’ve never once borrowed money from her. I feel like our friendship is not genuine now and feel crushed. Your thoughts? — Crushed
Dear Crushed: Naming a beneficiary to an account (a POD, or “payable on death”), is one way to leave money to someone, essentially bypassing complicated estate issues that can arise after your death.
Your friend was wisely reluctant to provide her Social Security number, but I wonder if she realizes what a POD is and why you are attempting to do this? She may believe that you are asking her to co-sign a loan, or co-own the account.
A POD has no access to the account, and no risks regarding the account.
You seem to believe that she must agree to this arrangement in order to truly be your friend.
Not true! Cool down, explain it and if she wants to do this, give it another try. You should see if your bank would let you bring the form to her to fill out and mail.
Dear Amy: “Hanging On” described her longtime partner as wearing dirty clothes, lying around all day, and emotionally shut down.
This is depression! I was disappointed that you didn’t suggest she see a therapist. — Disappointed
Dear Disappointed: The partner has refused counseling. I agree that she might be depressed, but “Hanging On” also described a 30-year relationship marked by enabling and co-dependency. I urged Hanging On to find ways to take better care of herself.