After all these years, no one in my husband’s family has ever sent him a get well card or asked how he is. Then, all of a sudden this past Christmas he receives a Christmas card from one of his sister’s daughters who is 29 years old. She has never met my husband. They live far away in another state. The card is addressed to “Uncle John” with a picture of her 3-year-old little girl. Now, I know her mother most likely told her to send the card only addressed to my husband, and I felt hurt and angry. So, I sent a card back from ‘Uncle John and Aunt Becky’ and wrote a note about how pretty her child is, etc.
Now my question is: If next year she again sends a card only addressed to “Uncle John,” should I respond the same again? I write all the cards. My husband doesn’t do the correspondence. My instinct tells me his sister is bored and is stirring the pot a little to “get to me.” I’ve experienced MANY pot-stirrings in the past and, after my MIL died, I thought I could finally relax. I’m angry at myself at my age to let this bother me, but I don’t want to start playing games again. My husband is ill again and enough is enough. This niece is very active and has a very good life and she is by no means trying to establish a relationship with her uncle. I look forward to your advice. — Aunt Becky, for the Record
You know, your sister-in-law doesn’t sound like the only one in this scenario who is bored and trying to “stir the pot.” You are freaking out over a Christmas card, for God’s sake. Christmas was three months ago and this card is still on your mind? You’re already concerned about whom a potential card may be addressed to this next holiday season which is NINE months away? And THIS is what you consider pot-stirring?! As you said, you are too old for this silliness (and, for the record, I’d consider anything over about 14 to be too old for this silliness).
If you get another card addressed to just your husband, ignore it. Christmas cards aren’t meant to be replied to anyway! This niece has never met your husband, has never sent a get well card or any other correspondence it sounds like, or in anyway shown any interest in your husband or in having a relationship with him, so why feel like you need to reply to her on your husband’s behalf? Obviously, your reply wasn’t about your husband. It was about YOU and wanting to assert yourself because you feel that, after 55 years of marriage, you deserve to be acknowledged as your husband’s wife. But, seriously, who gives a shit what some 29-year-old extended family member neither of you has ever met and who lives far away thinks or doesn’t think of you? You have an ill husband, three grown kids, and a daughter who’s mentally ill that you care for. Isn’t that enough to worry about? And, if it’s not — if you feel bored or unfulfilled, get a hobby! Join a card club, let this go, and continue enjoying the freedom you’ve had from your oppressive in-laws since your MIL’s death.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at email@example.com.