Dear Amy: My husband and I have a very dear friend, "Mike." About a year ago, Mike started dating "Ardele," who seems lovely. They go on lots of fun trips together and seem to be getting serious. They recently visited Ardele's hometown and Mike met her whole family.
However, even though we see Mike a few times a month, we have only met Ardele three times. Nearly every time we have a plan to meet up with them, she drops out at the last second without explanation. Mike simply says, "Ardele isn't going to be able to make it."
We've never asked any questions. Maybe having more separate social lives works for them. I've also considered that she might have social anxiety, migraines, or some other medical condition that flares up suddenly. I've just done what my Mom always taught me — assume the best intentions and mind your own business.
Then yesterday, Mike ran our city's marathon. He has been training for almost a year. When we saw him at the finish line, I expected to see Ardele, but she wasn't there. She also skipped the celebration later that night.
I'm getting kind of upset now. At what point am I allowed to worry about Mike? He shows up for his friends. It just makes me so sad to think that his partner does not make him a priority. Is there a way to gently ask him if he's getting what he needs out of this relationship? — Wondering Friend
Dear Wondering: You do not need anyone's permission to worry about your friend. However, you don't report that he seems unhappy — only that he is circumspect about his relationship. If he is having the kind of relationship he wants to have, regardless of whether it meets your standards, then there is nothing to worry about.
Your mother was right (they so often are). Assuming the best and minding your own business is definitely the path of least resistance. But friends also get to be honest with each other, even if that honesty creates a difficult or awkward moment.
Stop walking on eggshells. If you are curious about something, then ask a question (friends get to do that): "What's going on with 'Ardele'? We don't see her very often. We'd love to get to know her better." "Mike" might choose to be evasive. You should respect his — and her — privacy.
I give Mike credit for carrying on with his own plans and choosing to go solo even when his girlfriend stays away. This might present a good balance for him.
Dear Amy: My two grown sons do not talk to one another because of a stupid fight. They are both very hot-headed.
I've tried talking to them separately but get nowhere. Their wives don't want to get involved — they both say that even bringing it up causes problems. As a result, there are no birthdays, no holidays, and nothing is celebrated! These men are both in their 50s, and I am in my 80s and not getting any younger. I'm already thinking about the coming holidays and how sad it makes me. I just don't know how to solve this ongoing problem. Can you please give me some advice? — Brokenhearted Mother
Dear Brokenhearted: For now, you should plan to see each of your sons separately. This way you won't be completely deprived of company on these days you want to celebrate.
If there are events festering and leftover from childhood that you could acknowledge and encourage them to talk to you about, it might help, but if this dynamic has existed for a long time, you might not be able to have much of an impact.
I also hope you can get to a place where you accept that these two men are both adults and responsible for their own behavior. Repairing this rift will ultimately reside with them.
Dear Amy: "I'm Not Your Mom" complained because co-workers routinely left all of their food in the work refrigerator, and refused to clean it.
At my work, the cleaning service empties everything in the fridge at close of business on Friday. Period. A big sign on the fridge door said so.
If you left stuff in your own Tupperware — voila, on Monday it was gone. People learned quickly to be responsible. — No Leftover
Dear Leftover: When I was a kid and it was my sister's turn to clean the living room, any personal possessions you left there would get thrown onto the lawn.