May 28, 2024
I want to avoid this creepy encounter but it might require brutal honesty.

Dear Amy: My younger cousin, “Thomas,” recently moved close enough to make visits between us possible.

Thomas is married to a lovely woman. They’ve extended an invitation to me, my husband and adult children to come to their new place for dinner.

This would be lovely, except that his father, who was married to my mother’s sister, sexually molested me and my sister when we were young.

I have no desire to be anywhere near this creepy uncle. I never let him near my own children, unsupervised, when they were young, and they have no relationship with him.

My mother and her sister are both long-deceased, and I have no idea if they knew what was going on when my sister or I would babysit for Thomas and sleep at the house overnight.

My dad mentioned knowing about this before he died. I am sad that he didn’t confront his brother-in-law and protect his own daughters.

How do I beg off visiting my cousin without opening up this can of worms?

They have no children, so at least that’s not something I need to be vigilant about.

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I could invite him and his wife to my place, but they’re understandably eager for us to see their new home.

But I am so not eager to see the creepy uncle, though he is now elderly and feeble.

I don’t want to lose the connection with my cousin, but I don’t have any good reasons/excuses without being brutally honest, which I’m hoping to not have to be in this case.

Your wisdom is much appreciated.

– Weary and Wary

Dear Weary and Wary: I’m so sorry this happened to you and your sister, and that you didn’t have the support and protection of family members.

You don’t mention if this creepy uncle of yours lives in Thomas’ household, or if he is likely to be present if you visited.

I see your overall dilemma as a question of whether you should tell – or keep silent – about this aspect of your life.

You frame delivering the truth as being “brutally honest.” But I wonder if you could approach this with less brutality and more compassion – both toward yourself and also your cousin, who may have had some awareness of this, or perhaps been a victim, himself.

A therapist could help you to weigh these options.

If you do decide to tell, you could start by saying, “I’m really sorry to have to tell you this. I’m very fond of you and want to continue to have a close relationship. This is heartbreaking for me, and I know it will be hard for you, but I need to tell you the truth about what happened to me…”

Dear Amy: I have a longtime friend. Whenever we get together, I enjoy myself. The problem is that she is never on time.

I am not talking about being late by five minutes, but anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes.

She always has excuses, but these excuses have gotten old.

I have tried many times to talk to her about this issue, and nothing I say seems to make a difference.

This past Sunday she was already 20 minutes late when she called to say that she was going to be at least another 30 minutes late. I got so mad that I told her to forget it because I was going to go into the restaurant and eat by myself.

Now she is refusing to talk to me.

How do I deal with this problem?

– On Time

Dear On Time: You’ve already dealt with this problem in a logical and consequential way. Good for you.

Dear Amy: Your question from “Caring for Canines” was from a wife who felt stuck taking care of the dogs on weekends when her husband was bird-watching.

I was quite surprised by your suggestion that her husband should “compensate you for the cost he would pay an outside source.”

That assumes that (1) they have totally separate finances (I and my husband of 40 years do not) and (2) that their financial situation is such that they interact as “financial strangers.”

Beyond finances, the idea that one would compensate a spouse suggests a very slim intimacy.

– Shocked

Dear Shocked: I don’t assume that this dual-income couple has separate finances, but one spouse compensating the other for an extra imposition is, in my opinion, a somewhat playful way to recognize the value of her willingness to stay home and care for the dogs.

You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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