Dear Amy: My spouse and I have been in a committed partnership for over 30 years.
It was only after many years together that marriage became legally available to us.
As the reality of confirming our long-standing commitment was now a possibility, it still took some time to consider how we see ourselves, our lifetimes of shared experiences, and our intertwined families.
Marriage is not only a celebration and beginning; it is a personal acknowledgment of our long lives together.
When someone sees a ring on my finger, they will sometimes question how long we have been married. That’s when our definition of our lives together comes up against what some people allow to be true.
I would prefer to answer, truthfully, that we have been married for 30 years. When an incredulous look inevitably follows, I could add: “…and we formalized it last year.”
But then some people could respond: “But you have only been married for 1 year…” as if to place a huge asterisk on our marriage.
Besides insulting our proud and deeply personal milestone, their conditional definition diminishes the true story of our lives together.
So – what should our answer be to the question of how long have we been married?
– Happily Married
Dear Married: Congratulations on your long and successful relationship. Clunky encounters with others might be causing you to anticipate more – with a somewhat defensive stance.
You can describe your relationship any way you wish, including to say you’ve been married for 30 years. If someone doesn’t like that answer or challenges it, then – that’s on them.
It would also be quite simple for you to say, “We’ve been married in our hearts for 30 years and legally married for one – so I guess that makes us the longest-married newlyweds on the planet.”
Dear Amy: I have a group of three friends (we’re all male) with whom I enjoy one overnight each month at a cabin in the woods.
We take turns cooking.
Recently two of the guys made a spaghetti dinner for us.
The next morning they told us that they had included mushrooms in the sauce that they had found behind the woodpile.
I was horrified. I have a degree in biology and taught environmental science for over 30 years – neither of these guys has experience with mycology or taxonomy of fungi – nor could they even name the species of mushrooms that were used. When I expressed my dismay, they were defensive (“My wife said they were OK!”) and eventually turned to taunting.
At the next night I asked what ingredients were included in the meal. Realizing the ridiculousness of this endeavor to be safe and wishing to avoid further ridicule, I began to bring my own food under the declaration that I prefer to eat later in the evening than they do.
Amy, they are still making jokes about it and have never shown any contrition, much less offered an apology.
Two questions: Was my reaction unfounded (I can’t imagine it was), and do you have a suggestion for resolving this through communication?
– Avoiding Amanita
Dear Avoiding: Your reaction was not unfounded, but your overreaction is.
Your friends made a potentially dangerous choice; as it turned out, everyone got lucky and no one got sick. You conveyed your educated and legitimate concern, and you know your friends heard you because they resorted to taunting you for taking your position.
I hope that what you describe as “taunting” was a milder teasing.
You certainly have the right to bring your own food to these gatherings, but you aren’t being honest about your reason (and “eating later” doesn’t necessarily make sense). And – every time you do this you revive the original issue, which is that you don’t trust your friends to offer a safely prepared meal.
In my opinion, you should make a choice to trust your friends’ food prep, but this would require you to relax about an issue you obviously take extremely seriously.
You might flip this issue on its side if you more or less dove into the heart of it. Have some T-shirts made for the group: “Fun Guys Forage Fungi.”
Dear Amy: “Hurt Feelings” was a man who’d received a sports injury but was upset when his close friend “Bart” didn’t acknowledge it.
Dude needs to man up! Many guys grew up getting injured on the sports field and their coaches didn’t kiss their boo boos.
– Former Athlete
Dear Athlete: Compassion doesn’t hurt a bit. You might try it.
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(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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