Annie's Mailbox: Husband’s daughter refuses to acknowledge marriage

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for nine years. It’s a second marriage for both of us. The problem is my husband’s 30-year-old daughter.

“Courtney” and her sister live in another state, and we visit them and their children three times a year. It is very stressful for me to be around Courtney, as she has not spoken to me since my marriage to her father. She refuses to acknowledge that we are together, and this hurts a lot. My husband’s other daughter is nice, though a bit on the cool side.

Courtney is a single mother. When she had financial problems, I gave her a $200 check, hoping it would help our relationship. She didn’t even thank me.

I think my husband should speak to her, but he won’t. Should I confront Courtney myself? Do I let my husband visit her on his own?

— Distressed in Michigan

Dear Distressed: In an effort to avoid conflict with his daughter, your husband is doing all of you a grave disservice. He needs to insist that Courtney treat you with respect. She doesn’t have to like you, but she will never develop a tolerance for the relationship if she isn’t pushed in that direction. At the very least, she should speak to you and graciously acknowledge any gift you give her. If your husband refuses to support you in this, you don’t need to keep visiting Courtney and putting up with her ill-mannered attitude. Let him see her on his own.

Dear Annie: When my mot­her married many years ago, she had a seamstress create her wedding dress. Mom still has the picture from the newspaper that she gave the seamstress to use as a guide.

I wore that same dress at my first wedding. I have two sons from that marriage, but I doubt either of them (or my nephew) would want their brides to wear the dress, since that marriage ended in divorce.

My question is: What do I do with the wedding dress? It’s satin and beautiful, but I simply don’t think anyone else would want to wear it.

— Kentucky

Dear Kentucky: It is not a good idea to make assumptions about your sons’ future brides. A custom-made vintage wedding dress could be quite alluring and altered enough to make it lose any negative association. If no one in the family wants the dress, however, you should have no problem finding a good home for it. Dozens of resale shops specialize in “pre-owned” bridal gowns. You also can offer it for sale on eBay or donate it to one of many places that loan wedding dresses.

Dear Annie: My wife passed away three years ago after a long battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). I visited her every day.

My plea to visitors of these patients is a simple one: Please, please, whenever possible, make physical contact with the patient. Hold their hands, stroke their face, comb their hair, massage them, and most of all, talk and sing to them, regardless of whether or not you think they can hear you.

Often visitors will stand off to the side of the bed, saying little or nothing. The patient already feels isolated and alone. Touching and conversing give some modicum of comfort and normalcy. And on some days, you may be the only contact the patient has, making your voice and your touch that much more important.

Hopefully, this letter will be of some help to the readers out there.

— East Haven, Conn.

Dear East Haven: Thank you for your kind and compassionate suggestions. We hope our readers will remember them when they next visit someone who is in need of a loving and healing touch.

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