Dear Amy: I have an extremely severe food allergy.
I carry an EpiPen; I’ve been hospitalized multiple times because of exposure to this allergen.
My husband explained this to his parents when we started dating.
Since then, most meals we have shared at their house have had very limited options for me. They manage to find a way to add the ingredient I’m allergic to, to almost everything.
One time they made a point to make a special plate containing this allergen, and then passed it around, while my mother-in-law announced, “I would have liked to have added it directly to the salad, but SOMEBODY has problems with it!”
I literally held my breath as it went in front of me, for fear I would have contact with it.
That was extremely dangerous for me. This food could kill me.
When I was pregnant, my husband told them we would not take part in any family meals if they didn’t promise to keep the meals allergy-free.
His dad said, “We can’t promise that. Everyone except your wife likes that food, and we’re not changing what we eat for one person.”
My sister-in-law then berated me about this over the phone.
This has caused a huge wedge between my husband’s family and us.
We no longer spend holidays with them, and rarely speak.
They don’t get to see their grandkids. His sister stopped talking to us. He has a brother who still reaches out and is kind to us, but he acts as though his parents are just set in their ways and we should forgive them and move on.
Short of taking them a doctor’s note, telling them my allergy is real, I’m not sure what to do.
My husband supports me 100 percent and he is very angry and hurt by their actions, but at times I feel terrible that I am the cause of this rift. I want everyone to be happy. – Disrespected DIL
Dear Disrespected: Given the way these people behave, I doubt a doctor’s note would have any effect on them. They are either willfully and woefully ignorant of the life-threatening aspects of your serious food allergy, or they are simply mean and willing to endanger you.
You are not the cause of this rift. They are.
Yes, they are not likely to change, so I suppose you could make the effort to forgive them and move on. But in moving on, you will not be moving toward them, because it is dangerous for you to do so. (If only there were an EpiPen for toxic in-laws!)
If your in-laws wanted to have contact with you, your husband, and their grandchildren, it would be very easy for them to do so – at your house, at a neutral location, or at any of the myriad occasions in a family’s life (sporting events, outings, concerts) not involving food.
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been in a 33-year (same-sex) relationship. We got married six years ago.
I have come to the realization that I no longer like my spouse.
He has turned into a toxic, negative old man.
I have suggested counseling, but he dismisses the suggestion.
I am no longer happy, but because of our history together (and advanced age) I don’t really see leaving as a viable option.
Your thoughts? – Love Him, Don’t Like Him
Dear Love Him: Marriage is hard. Getting old is no picnic.
Generally speaking, I think that you should not consign your own happiness over to someone else. If there are ways for you to preserve (or restore) your own happiness and sense of joy and also stay in this marriage, then you should do that.
Your negative, toxic old man of a husband is NOT going to choose counseling.
Go by yourself. Find your smile.
I think you should also seriously consider leaving the relationship. I’m not saying you should leave, but that you should consider leaving.
Then, if you choose to stay, you will have made an actual choice, and not merely a response to your own inertia.
Dear Amy: Responding to “Won’t Host Again,” my favorite way to get rid of guests at the end of an evening is to stand up, yawn, and say, “Well, we’ve got to get to bed so these people can go home!” – Been There
Dear Been There: My friend Hop routinely announces the end of any gathering by standing and saying, “Well, Shirley...”
“Well, Shirley” has now become our family’s shorthand for, “Good night; now go home.”
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.