Dear Amy: My husband has gone skiing with seven of his male peers for 17 years.
One of these friends, “Patrick,” is an alcoholic whose out-of-control behavior during previous ski trips has been difficult for them to tolerate.
Last year, Patrick was so offensive and unruly during a ski trip that it was the last straw, so the guys will not be inviting him to join them again.
My husband has blocked him on his phone.
Although all agreed that this shunning was justified, the loss of this friend caused my husband great emotional pain.
I am from a family who has suffered from generations of alcoholism. I have a low tolerance for the pain caused by that sad addiction. As a result, the shunning is not a problem for me.
However, I am friends with Patrick’s wife, who knows he has been banned from the ski group for his frightening behaviors.
She is choosing to continue to support him and his painful, risky lifestyle, trusting that he will recover.
Although none of us share her trust in him, she is asking for “understanding” from the ski group and is asking for me to maintain his friendship.
Both my husband and I enjoy her but want nothing to do with Patrick. We are inclined to gently conclude our relationship with her, but we feel bad for all concerned.
Thanks for any insight or advice.
– Former Friend
Dear Former Friend: Banning an “unruly” person from an already potentially dangerous sporting weekend spent hurtling down a snowy mountain is a logical choice – safest for the group, and for others on the slope.
Avoiding someone whose alcoholism is out of control is also a logical choice.
But “shunning”? Shunning is a group choice to permanently cut off contact. It is used as a consequence for unacceptable behavior.
Your husband and his friends believe that they are acting in the best interests of the group.
“Gently concluding” your relationship with the wife of this addict, simply because she is both staying with her husband and attempting to continue a friendship with you amounts to shunning her. (What’s her crime?)
This makes her yet another victim of her husband’s disease.
You should instead urge her to get professional help – for herself. (As always, a “friends and family” support group such as Al-anon might be helpful for her.)
If you enjoy her friendship, you should continue to enjoy it.
You can tell her, “We won’t spend time with Patrick until he is sober and in recovery, but we’d like to keep up with you, if at all possible.”
Dear Amy: I went through a terrible divorce 30 years ago.
We didn’t have children, and my ex-husband and I have not communicated at all since the divorce. I did not stay in touch with anyone in his family.
Recently, I found our wedding album in a box while clearing out a room. There are very good photos of his parents and other close relatives who are now deceased. These are the only copies.
I don’t want to keep these photos, but I also don’t want to throw them away.
I found another relative on Facebook. I would like to send the photos to her, but I don’t want to re-establish a relationship of any kind.
Is there any polite way to accomplish this?
– Holding History
Dear Holding History: I appreciate your awareness that these personal photos could be of great interest to family members.
I take it as a given that, for whatever reason, you want to minimize any contact with the one family member you’ve found who might receive them.
I suggest sending a private message on Facebook, introducing yourself and telling the relative what you have. Say you’re downsizing and would like to send these family photos to her. If she wants the photos, ask for her address, and ship the photos with no return address on the package.
Track the shipment to make sure they were delivered, give the recipient a week or two to thank you via private message, and then remove your contact with her on Facebook.
Dear Amy: “Sad Mom” reflected on her daughter’s choice not to invite her brother to their wedding.
My husband and I (going on 37 years) each had a number of alcoholics in our families, including our fathers.
We decided on sparkling cider as the main beverage and did not serve alcohol.
This worked out well for our wedding day.
Dear Julie: This is a logical and healthy choice.
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