DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Arthur," and I are planning a trip. One stop will be to see some friends of his, "Mac" and "Annie," from years back. I am dreading the visit.
Last year, Arthur had a heart attack. I called some of our closest friends to let them know he was in the hospital. One couple knew Mac and Annie, and told them about his illness.
Mac and Annie then called me and yelled at me for "allowing" my husband to get ill. I hung up, but they called back when I was at the hospital and left another hate-filled message on our answering machine. Not wanting Arthur to get upset, I erased it and never told him.
Abby, I don't want to see these people. I know I'll be suppressing the urge to slap them both, but I intend to try to be gracious. Should I tell my husband about my last encounter with them, or trust that they have enough sense not to bring up the matter? -- DREADING THE VISIT IN TEXAS
DEAR DREADING: What exactly is it that you should have done to prevent your husband from having the heart attack -- thrown your body over his fork so he couldn't eat the "wrong" foods, nagged him into quitting smoking, or "forced" him to exercise and adopt a different lifestyle? You're his wife, not his mother.
You should absolutely tell your husband about those outrageous phone calls. Do not assume that folks with such an absence of common sense that they would attack you during a family crisis wouldn't do something equally inappropriate during the visit.
Frankly, I don't blame you for wanting to avoid them. Your husband should clear the air before either of you see them -- if you decide to see them at all.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are on an extremely tight budget since I lost my job and he was forced to retire early because of health issues. We have a nice home (paid for) and older vehicles, and we have no complaints about our lifestyle other than being more penny-conscious to cover our basic expenses.
We receive numerous wedding invitations from our grown children's friends, whom we have known and loved since they were all in high school together. Our problem is what to do about a gift for them when we don't have the money for one. We love to attend the weddings and receptions, but I feel bad about not taking a gift.
What's the right thing to do? Do we go and not take anything, offer an explanation or decline the invitation? I always send a card and I don't want anyone to think we are cheap. My son was married last year, and people were very generous with their gifts, which I really appreciated.
We also received six graduation announcements last spring -- same issue. I'd really appreciate some advice. -- TIGHTENING OUR BELTS IN MISSOURI
DEAR TIGHTENING: When you receive a wedding invitation from one of your children's former high school friends, pick up the phone and explain your current circumstances and the fact that they, regrettably, prevent you from attending. That will leave the door open for them to invite you to come anyway. If the invitation is a sincere wish to share their special day with you and not a gift grab, they'll tell you your presence is all the "gift" they need. However, if they don't, send a card extending your good wishes.
As for the graduation announcements, they should be acknowledged with a nice card and a sweet note of congratulations. You are under no obligation to send a gift.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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