Published On: Sat, Nov 4th, 2023

Ask Amy: My mother-in-law’s clothes are ‘too tight or too short’

Ask Amy: My mother-in-law’s clothes are ‘too tight or too short’
Ask Amy: My mother-in-law’s clothes are ‘too tight or too short’


Dear Amy: I’ll get straight to the point. My mother-in-law dresses in clothes that are too tight or too short. The clothes aren’t revealing, necessarily, but they don’t flatter her figure at all. They make her look like she has absolutely no sense of style. I feel bad for her.

I know that she thinks she looks good in these clothes, but I also know that she would want to know if something looked bad on her. The problem is, I have absolutely no idea how to broach the subject. She’s an extremely sensitive person, and I have trouble talking to her about anything even remotely serious.

I have made her cry on occasion just for bringing something up that other people wouldn’t think twice about. Should I tell her how I feel, or do I keep it to myself? If so, what would I say?

Doubting: Your mother-in-law does not dress for you. She dresses for herself. She no doubt chooses her clothing with some care, and she probably believes she looks good in what she has chosen to wear. So you should respect her taste and her choices, and if she likes the way she looks — you should understand and choose to tolerate it.

In short, stand down. If she asks you about her clothing, you should comment positively about a particular look you believe does flatter her; otherwise — celebrate and appreciate the fact that she is your spouse’s mother … and love her for that.

Dear Amy: My husband and I have become close friends with our next-door neighbors. We have enjoyed meals and outside events with them.

During covid we began having weekly dinners with them, forming a sort of “pod.” After restrictions eased, these weekly dinners became assumed.

One spouse in this couple is quite aggressive, vociferous and rude. At times I have been close to tears.

I’m in a quandary as to how to approach this person to say that these nights have become unpleasant, and we’d like to extricate ourselves from “standing dinner dates.” Obviously, this could be very awkward living in such close proximity. I’d appreciate your advice on how to handle this.

— Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Breaking Up: You need to back away from the intensity of these weekly dinners, and try to transition to a relationship that is less loaded, and more neighborly.

If you want to address this with a degree of honesty, you could say, “These dinners were a lifeline during the pandemic, but we’ve decided it’s time to resume our pre-pandemic habits and not do these weekly dinners. It’s just become too much.”

Yes, this is only a degree of honesty. Paddle around in this polite vagueness. Because you are next-door neighbors and this spouse is particularly aggressive, it might be best not to directly confront them with your specific reasons.

For the next few weeks, you and your husband should make other plans for the nights you normally have dinner with these next-door neighbors. Actually make plans and leave the house. This should interrupt the weekly habit, which has been going on now for several years.

Getting together less often might be better for all of you. The aggressive and rude spouse is quite obviously not enjoying these evenings (is this behavior the result of drinking too much?). Stopping these weekly gatherings might prove a relief to everyone. I hope you can resume a more neighborly relationship.

Dear Amy: It’s nearly the time of year when my mother and sisters start pressuring me to provide a list of things I’d like for Christmas. I know it’s not the worst problem to have, but I dread everything about this tradition of obligatory gift-giving.

I’m almost 40, I live halfway across the country, and I haven’t joined them for the holiday in nearly a decade. My husband and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, and there’s always something sort of depressing about opening these boxes mailed to me. I feel guilty that their gifts bring me no happiness.

All I want for Christmas is no presents to open! How can I get out of this without being a jerk?

Dreading: This year, when you are asked for your list, respond with a description of your very favorite local charity or nonprofit. Tell your mother and sisters, “I don’t want any material gifts at all, but it would truly make me happy if you decided to support this worthy cause instead.”

© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


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