July 14, 2024
Plus: The Wisconsin Goodbye is the solution to telephone hell.

Dear Amy: My older sister “Barb” lost her husband two years ago. My husband and I live five minutes away from her.

Being an introvert, I enjoy my solitude. I walk every morning at sunrise for 90 minutes and love being alone with my thoughts and with nature.

Barb began walking with me immediately following her husband’s death, which was OK because I knew she was lonely.

For the last six to nine months, though, I’ve been dreading her coming with me.

She talks constantly from the time we meet up until the time we part. We don’t have conversations, as I don’t have an opportunity to say much. She’s very judgmental and nosy.

What can I do or say, short of telling her I want silence from her if she goes with me?

– My Ears Hurt

Dear Ears Hurting: Why can’t you tell your sister that you want silence on your walks?

You’ve provided needed company and no-doubt an important lifeline to her over the past two years since her husband’s death. And now it’s time for you to revert to meeting your own needs during your morning constitutional.

She’s your sister! Tell her, “Barb, I need silence at sunrise. Let’s catch up for the first couple of minutes of our walk and then – shut it down for some quiet time. We can visit at other times.”

Earbuds might be your best morning accessory.

Dear Amy: Last year, my husband and my best friend “Derry” were caught having a very intense emotional affair.

When it all came out, Derry was overheard saying that she didn’t care about breaking “girl code” and didn’t feel guilty about hurting anyone.

Her own marriage was in the toilet at the time, so she jeopardized mine.

I was obviously devastated and extremely angry.

Of course, the affair exposed fissures in my own marriage, and my husband and I had a year of intense marriage counseling and worked through it. We’re doing great now.

Derry never apologized in any meaningful way until last week, via email.

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A mutual friend also saw her last week and talked to her about it, so I was privy to some of her feelings for the first time.

I learned that, like us, she and her husband did a lot of therapy and have patched things up.

Our mutual friend told me that Derry is in an enormous amount of pain over hurting me and cried through their whole conversation.

In her email, Derry said it took her a year and a half to reach out to me because she wanted to have enough perspective to make a genuine apology.

I believe this is true and I know she deeply regrets the pain she caused.

My question is: Should I respond and have some closure, or maybe even give her absolution?

I have mostly healed, and I worry this will reopen the wound.

– Betrayed in CO

Dear Betrayed: Call it what you will, but in my view, “breaking girl code” trivializes this person’s behavior.

People often ask if couples can heal from betrayal and emotional or physical adultery, and I’m happy you’ve provided a positive example showing that sometimes it is possible to come back from the brink.

I’m not sure it is within your power to grant absolution to this friend who betrayed you so completely (that job might best be left to clergy), but you can certainly forgive her – and it sounds as if you have.

You can close the loop by replying to her email, acknowledging her apology, and stating that you forgive her. (If you haven’t forgiven her, you can say you’re working on it.)

I suggest that you keep it short: “I want you to know that I believe your apology is genuine, and that I’ve forgiven you. I hope that we can now all close this very challenging chapter of our lives.”

You don’t say whether you want to engage in a dialogue and perhaps attempt to revive your friendship, but this is a decision you can make later.

No matter what, you should always protect your own feelings and interests by being completely honest and speaking your truth.

Dear Amy: “Desperate Phone Hostage” needed a way to get off the phone with overly talkative people.

She should use the Wisconsin Goodbye. You just say, “I should stop taking up so much of your time. I’ll let you get going.”

Growing up in Wisconsin, everyone learns this.

– Hello and Goodbye from WI

Dear Hello: This is delightfully Wisconsin. Thank you.

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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