Dear Abby: My stepdaughter is engaged to a wonderful young man she has been with for more than three years. We welcome him as part of our family and are excited to have him as a son-in-law. However, due to his overwhelming anxiety (as my stepdaughter explains it), he barely says a word whenever we see him.
In the several years they have been dating/engaged, he has joined us for only one family holiday meal, and conversation was painful, to say the least. We have invited him to many family gatherings (large and small), but he seems to have an excuse not to attend each one.
I very much want to get to know him better and make him feel welcome, comfortable and loved as part of our family, but his silence, lack of eye contact and his apparent desire to avoid us make it very difficult. Any advice?
Challenged Future Mother-in-law
Dear Future M.I.L: You are overdue for a serious talk with your stepdaughter. Have you asked her if she knows the reason for her fiance’s lack of social skills? Is he this way with everyone, or just you and your husband? Could he be on the autism spectrum or feel intimidated by your attempts to make him feel “comfortable and loved”? His extreme introversion may be a red flag because it may have negative repercussions for her if she marries him.
Dear Abby: How do I talk to my roommate about the thermostat without coming off as a “parent” or a control freak? I prefer the thermostat be set at 77 to 78 during warmer months, but every time I step out the door, they turn the A/C down to 72 or 73. It makes the house feel like you could hang meat in here. The kicker is, it’s 80 outside. I don’t think the unit even needs to be on. Not only am I concerned about the electric bill, I’m freezing in my own house with pants on. I know this will become a problem because we are expecting temperatures in the 90s for weeks at a time, and the cost of electricity rises with the heat. I’m tired of playing the game of adjusting the temperature and not saying anything. Advice?
Dear T.R.: Stop pussyfooting around and have an adult discussion with your roommate about this. If possible, a compromise should be worked out. Whose name is on the lease? Is it yours or both of yours? Is the cost of heating and cooling the unit shared equally? If a compromise can’t be agreed upon, it’s possible the two of you are incompatible and one of you needs to make other living arrangements.
Dear Abby: About a year ago, a friend I’ve known since high school came out as transgender female. I am glad to see her living her life as her authentic self, and I want to do what I can to support her. I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still has photo albums, and there are a fair amount of pictures of her, pre-transition. Obviously, the photos are labeled with her “dead” name. Should I go back through the albums and change the labels to replace her former name with her new one?
Good Friend in Illionois
Dear Friend: Trans people have strong feelings about deadnaming, and many are against the practice. This is a subject you should discuss with your friend, and abide by her preference.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.