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What Can I Do to End My Family’s Wedding Wars?

My half sister got engaged recently and, because of the pandemic, decided to elope. When she told our dad about her plans, all hell broke …

My half sister got engaged recently and, because of the pandemic, decided to elope. When she told our dad about her plans, all hell broke loose! He wanted her to wait and have a big, beautiful wedding. Three months after her elopement, he is still upset and hurt. As a family, we’ve tried to tell him to get over it: “There’s a pandemic.” “This is not about you, Dad.” “We’ll have a celebration later.” Nothing helps. They even had a family counseling session that didn’t go well. My dad wants an apology and thinks my sister should have changed her plans after learning his view. We’re all losing patience with him, and I’m worried about the damage he’s causing to relationships. Any advice?


It would be terrific if other people’s hurt feelings could be repaired on our timetable — and even better if telling people who are upset to “get over it” did anything but make them more upset. People heal on their own schedules. Still, props to your family for trying.

It sounds as if your sister explained to your father why she chose an elopement during a pandemic and that there will be time for a lovely reception when it’s safe. What I’m missing here is the reason for your father’s distress: Is he upset at being excluded from your sister’s private ceremony or missing the bells and whistles of a big event? Sometimes, exploring hurt feelings more deeply can help heal them.

If your father simply wants to call the shots, though, or control your sister, you will all have to wait him out. And in that case, everyone should stop catering to his distress. Making people’s unyielding selfishness the center of attention can often create more of it.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

Offensiveness, Ranked

As a Christian, I find it hurtful when I hear the Lord’s name used as swear words. If I used sexist, racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic language as curse words, I might be garroted. So, it’s hard for me to understand why such swearing is acceptable when it comes to Christ. But the idea of confronting people about this makes me uneasy. Is there a better way to communicate my hurt?


You undermined my sympathy for your question by presenting it as a false choice between demeaning demeaning Jesus Christ and using hateful epithets about the identities of living people. Neither is acceptable! But linking them unnecessarily, as you have, suggests that your real grievance is about how offensiveness is ranked.

Limit your complaints about swearing to people you know. (Who can say how angry strangers may react?) After your friends have cooled down, say calmly: “It upsets me to hear the Lord’s name used as a profanity. Can you find another one, please?” That should do the trick.

Pet Parent Parity?

My husband and I have two dogs. He walks them several times a day, and I usually join him for the bedtime stroll. The issue: When it’s raining, I see no reason for both of us to get wet. I’ve told him: “Either I’ll walk the dogs or you can, but there’s no reason for both of us to do it.” But he thinks it’s not fair if he gets wet and I don’t. (He’s actually told me it wasn’t raining when it was just so I would go with him.) Help!


Unless there’s a reason for your husband to doubt your willingness to walk the dogs in the rain without him, this is a head-scratcher. The next time it’s raining, put on your rain gear and take the dogs out for their evening walk alone. This will assure your husband of your sincerity.

After that, take turns walking the dogs in bad weather. Make sure, too, that your husband’s insistence that you get wet isn’t really a complaint: Ask if he is satisfied with the division of dog care responsibilities.

The Price of Shipping

Several months ago, our friend and neighbor flew across the country to be with her ailing mother. Unfortunately, her mother passed away during the visit. So, our neighbor telephoned and asked us to ship some clothes that would be appropriate for a funeral by overnight mail. (We’d exchanged house keys for emergency use.) She said she would reimburse us for the shipping cost. My wife selected the clothes, and I took them to UPS and paid $147 to ship them. But, apparently, the thought of reimbursing us hasn’t occurred to her since she returned home. Should I remind her, or write off her debt?


Personally, I would let this go as a gesture of good will between neighbors. If you feel differently, though, remind her about it. Say, “I still have the receipt for the clothes we shipped to you for your mother’s funeral. It came to $147.”

The only thing I ask is that you try to tamp down feeling “miffed” before you talk to her. Losing a parent is a big deal, and all sorts of details can get lost in the grief. That’s no disrespect to you or the kindness you showed your neighbor.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to [email protected], to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.

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