Dear Amy, I was raised by a single mother. She is an educated liberal feminist who raised me to be a strong, self-sufficient woman.
She is caring, open-minded and non-confrontational. We are very close, even though she lives in another state.
Every year she comes to stay at my house for a week or two and we both travel to visit other relatives. I always really enjoy our time together.
My husband was raised in a very patriarchal household by blue collar workers who never denied him anything. He is brilliant and extremely successful, even though he never finished college (but he’s not sure how smart he is).
He is a manly man, physically strong, can fix anything, build anything, do anything he sets his mind to, takes excellent care of our adult children, and adores me.
My problem is that my husband and mother don’t like each other.
They don’t argue, but they definitely fight to be in the same room.
One time my husband and I were arguing about something and Mom abruptly got up and went to her room.
The next morning, she said that he was being mean to me. She was worried that he didn’t respect me or care about me.
Although I explained that this was not entirely true, she seemed very concerned.
When I told my husband why she was uncomfortable, he snapped and said that she wants him to be different, but he won’t change who he is for anyone.
I feel horrible that my husband and mother are not best friends.
I want to avoid another awkward visit.
Do you have any tips on how to possibly bring them closer?
– In the middle
Dear in the middle: First for some perspective. Your mother raised you alone. She does not mention that she has had a spouse or long-term partner, neither then nor now.
If a person has navigated the world mostly alone, it can be unsettling to witness a debate (or argument) as a couple.
If your mom doesn’t spend time with mingling couples, it can be hard to tell the difference between a fight, a debate, a minor fight, or the prelude to a mutual understanding.
You made a tactical error here. If you want her mother and her husband to be closer to her, why did you choose to inform him of her mother’s disturbing and incorrect statement? You said, “My mom thinks you’re mean to me.” Instead of repeating this to her, she should have directed her attention to her mother, to reassure her about her healthy relationship and the dynamics of her home.
To your husband. One sure way to show that you are a true “man’s man” is to be kind and considerate of your wife’s loving mother. Her husband needs to step up, and even if he is not willing to change, he must show that he is capable of at least behaving differently.
Dear Amy, My daughter is getting married this summer.
His father died in 2009. I met a man a year later and he passed away in 2021.
My stepson is going to give away my daughter. At the front desk I don’t feel comfortable walking in and being announced by myself.
Would it be appropriate for my stepson and my late partner’s son to accompany me to the reception?
Dear M, It is appropriate to use whatever settings work for you and the rest of the wedding party. You being flanked by these two young men sounds like a very good idea.
And, not to meddle with your plans (or conventional lore), but I would vote for you to walk your daughter down the aisle; not to “give her away” but to accompany her in this next important phase of her life.
Dear Amy, I loved the question (and your answer) from “Older, Wiser, Happier”, the older couple who just adopted a little boy.
I adopted a day old baby at 52 years old. My son is now 18 years old.
I have often faced the same shock when informing curious people that I am a parent, rather than a grandparent, to my child. (An added surprise is that I’ve always been single.)
Your suggested answers to Happier are perfect. More important to me was the letter itself. It gave me comfort to know that I’m not the only one who frequently has to explain my relationship to my son.
Dear Grateful, I have heard from many older foster parents, all wise and happy.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @asking either Facebook.)