Dear Amy: My wife and I have been friends with “Sandy” and “Keith” for years. We truly consider them to be family.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I had a miscarriage, which deeply impacted my faith.
My wife was upset and confused by my reaction and wanted to talk with our closest friends about it.
Sandy and Keith said that we could come to their house to meet with them. When we were getting ready to leave, they called and said that Sandy wouldn’t be able to talk because she wasn’t feeling well. She had flu symptoms and was worried she might have COVID-19.
My wife really wanted Sandy’s guidance. We reiterated how important our issue was. We understood that Sandy was sick, but we were willing to get sick ourselves in order to talk with them both.
Sandy wouldn’t budge, and we ended up seeking help elsewhere.
Over the course of the following week my wife texted Sandy that we were offended that she was not willing to meet with us. Sandy insisted that she felt “burned out” by help she gave to others, in addition to being sick. We felt that the deep need we had should override her other concerns.
Sandy said that sometimes adults need to step away for their own mental health. She hasn’t apologized. Since they weren’t there for us when we needed them the most, we have been re-considering their place in our life.
Are we unreasonable to expect Sandy to meet with us during our personal emergency? Shouldn’t we expect family to be there when we are experiencing personal crisis? — Too Close?
Dear Too Close: Well, you (sort of) had me until you stated that you were “willing to get sick, yourselves” in order to share your burden with “Sandy” and “Keith” in person.
Your willingness to expose yourselves (and others) to a potentially deadly illness in order to receive exactly what you were looking for — and on your terms — is deeply selfish. Can you not receive comfort via phone, text, email, or video conferencing?
Miscarriage can be a truly shattering, tragic event (I have been through it). But in many ways, it is also a deeply personal event. Your friends might have experienced a miscarriage themselves, and they might not have been emotionally equipped to handle your personal demands, on your timetable, and according to your specifications. Or you two might be needy, emotional vampires — who take too much and don’t give back enough.
My larger point is that you simply never know what burdens others are quietly carrying. When people who love you say they can’t help you, you should respect their choice, even if you feel let down. You should understand that they may also be hurting, or flawed, and you should work harder to understand them.
And yes, you should reconsider their primary place in your lives. They deserve a break.
Dear Amy: Our daughter was employed by a family friend. We were very grateful to this friend for giving her a job. Unfortunately, our family friend turned out to be a miserable boss. This was borne out by several co-workers, and our daughter.
My daughter succeeded at her job despite this and was offered several promotions and raises over the years that she worked there.
I’m sorry to say that we never talked about any of this to the friend. It felt to us like the elephant in the room, but we could never figure out what to say. Not surprisingly, our personal relationship cooled a lot.
Our daughter has moved on to a new job and we frequently have social events that include our old friend.
This friend has been more solicitous of our friendship, and we are open to these efforts. Should we try to talk it out? If so, what do we say?
Does everything always have to be resolved, or are we allowed to just put some things behind us? — Puzzled Parents
Dear Puzzled: You are allowed to put this behind you. Your daughter seems to be thriving, your friend is reaching out, this isn’t actually your business to start with, and so — yes — move on.
Dear Amy: “Wondering Wife” highly suspected her husband had “Aspergers.” You encouraged her to help him to get a diagnosis.
While I appreciate your compassion and support, “Aspergers” is no longer considered correct. In the future, please refer to “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” — Autism Advocate
Dear Advocate: Several readers offered this correction. Thank you.