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ASK AMY: Family vacation could be hampered by new spouse

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Dear Amy: My husband, my children and I live in a different state than most of my family.

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We are planning a trip to my family’s state and would like to invite my parents and grandmothers to rent a cabin for a few nights.

I don’t often see my grandmothers because they are not well enough to travel too far.

I want to be able to enjoy a wonderful and relaxing trip with them because I worry about how much time I have left to spend with them.

I want to create happy memories with them, my parents and my children together. My grandmothers get along very well and often spend time together. They are both widowed, but one of them remarried about a year ago.

Amy, this man is rude and pretentious and makes everyone uncomfortable.

We all keep our feelings to ourselves and are respectful when we’ve been around him, but my parents and my other grandmother aren’t a fan of this man.

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I’m afraid spending an entire weekend with him is too much for everyone.

His presence would probably turn this time of relaxation with my family into a weekend of his lectures, his narcissistic antics and his dramas.

Is it selfish of me to only want to spend this precious time with those who bring happiness? Would I be wrong to invite only my grandmother and not her condescending new spouse?

How can I extend this exclusive invitation? Or is there a polite and discreet way to ask him not to make this trip unpleasant?

– Happy memories only

Dear Happy: Your grandmother chose to get married, and when she did, the man she married came into your family. For better and – it seems – for worse: he is there.

It’s not selfish of you to want “only happiness”, but no family can be guaranteed only happy experiences or happy memories. Each family must face the challenges presented by its reality.

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I suggest you extend this invitation to everyone, and then do your best to handle this disruptive new family member during your weekend together.

If you establish a basic will to stand up to him: (“Excuse me, ‘Steve’, but I’d like to hear what my grandma thinks…”), you might have a better time.

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Dear Amy: Our daughter’s wedding overseas was first planned two summers ago. Family on both sides (mostly) don’t live there, so with the borders closed the ceremony was postponed – twice.

Now the wedding is underway – for this July. We are now seeing that a number of guests who said they were coming the first two times are now saying they can’t come. We will miss seeing them.

So here’s the question: since we’ve already paid for the lovely venue for a specific number of guests, is it cheesy to invite those who “didn’t make the first guest list” originally to join us? now ?

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If it’s not sticky, how could we even formulate that?

– Wondering about marriage

Dear amazed: When it comes to “tacky,” I take a stance that’s probably more Dolly Parton than Emily Post.

I say, be genuine, be polite, and – if you get stuck – be honest!

Send out your invites. You could call this event: Third Time’s the Charm.

I don’t think it’s necessary to refer to past projects when inviting people.

If potential customers ask, “Hey, I thought you didn’t have room for me…!” say: “The pandemic has really ruined our plans and some close family members cannot travel overseas this summer, so if you are able to join us at relatively short notice, we would be delighted!

Dear Amy: “Concerned Sister” was trying to inspire her aging sister to make plans for her future.

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Thank you for emphasizing the need for families to discuss end-of-life issues with each other.

My mother sank into the ravages of dementia before we even discussed these things. During the years that I spent caring for her, I often wished to know her wishes. It would have made everything so much easier for me and the other family members who were trying to give her the best care.

We were very in the dark and I still regret this difficult period.

– With regret

Dear regrets: The situation you describe is one that journalist Ellen Goodman grappled with after the illness and death of her own mother, inspiring her to start The Conversation Project (, which provides helpful prompts to get people talking. families.

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