Q: My mother and older sister are trying to spoil my happiness about my upcoming wedding. I have known my ex-stepmother, “Gina,” for 20 years and have been best friends with her for the last 15. We remained close even after she divorced my biological father, who is not in the picture.
I had an appointment to go dress shopping and invited my friends, my mom and Gina (who lives out of state). When I told Mom that Gina was coming, her response was she would come “some other time.” Abby, Mom has been remarried for more than 30 years and has spent time with Gina prior to this. It’s not like they are enemies.
My older sister doesn’t get along with Gina. She told me if Gina is part of the bridal party, she won’t come to my wedding. I’m having a bachelorette party in the state where Gina lives. The invitations won’t be sent for another few months. When my older sister found out, she accused me of not telling her. I explained that I’m not planning the party, my friend will be sending out the invitations, and I wasn’t keeping anything from her. She hung up on me!
These two ladies are spoiling what should be a happy time for me. Have I done something that, from an outside perspective, you consider wrong? — Desperately Seeking Advice
A: Your mother’s refusal to participate in the selection of your wedding gown was an example of passive aggression. Your mother and sister aren’t trying to spoil your happiness about your wedding. They are trying to manipulate and blackmail you into excluding your former stepmother. From this outsider’s perspective, you have done nothing wrong, but they have.
Q: I recently started volunteering at a wonderful organization and was asked to assist the board with a special project. At the initial meeting with two of the board members, everything was going well until the first board member excused himself and the other one immediately began to badmouth the person who had left the room.
I’m new to volunteering here. Neither board member knows me at all. It made me very uncomfortable, and I didn’t know how to respond. These two individuals have known each other for many years.
I don’t want to get involved in this petty business, but I’ll have to work closely with both of them in the coming months. Most of my interactions will be with the person who was spoken about poorly. At least three board members have recently quit because of this person. How should I proceed? — New Volunteer in Illinois
A: Proceed by not allowing yourself to get dragged into board politics. If one board member starts badmouthing another, excuse yourself.
If three people have quit, there are obviously problems with the governance of this organization. If you can do your job without getting involved in the dysfunction, stick with it. If you can’t, then for your own sanity, find another place to donate your time and talents.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.