Dear Amy: My husband is an identical twin. He is very close to his twin brother, “Chet.”
Chet is married and has three children. His wife is a spoiled millennial with a short fuse and unpredictable moods. My husband and I have tried for children for a decade now, with no luck.
I take issue with something I feel I can’t talk to my husband about without him getting defensive and upset.
We are very good to his brother’s family, attending the kids’ games, events, and birthday parties.
I even gave up going on vacation this year so his brother and kids could go with my husband instead of me.
We give gifts to the kids, and for Chet and his wife’s birthdays. (I’m lucky to get a text message on my birthday.)
For Christmas, we dropped more than $200 on gifts for all of them (three kids and two adults).
My husband and I received nothing from them.
I gave up my vacation for them. I give so much throughout the year! Do we just continue to be neglected because we don’t have kids?
I felt like I was kicked in the gut leaving the Christmas ‘gift exchange’ with nothing.
Am I being too sensitive, or are my feelings warranted? What is the best way to communicate this to my husband without him feeling like I’m attacking his brother/family? — Flying Solo
Dear Flying Solo: It’s tough to face this sort of very obvious imbalance. Of course you notice, and of course you feel bad about it!
My question is — given the imbalance that already seems to exist here, why do you sign up for more? You need to take better care of yourself. You should not surrender your own vacation for this other family. Your husband is a twin, but he is married to you.
You should continue to give to the children. Dive in and love these children abundantly.
If the adults don’t participate in a gift exchange (many adults don’t), then you shouldn’t, either. That way, you can enjoy your generosity toward the children without feeling sorry for yourself.
Dear Amy: I am a 30-year-old artist. I have been painting for 15 years. To avoid falling into the ‘starving artist’ category, I work full time in nursing to cover rent and afford art supplies.
Two years ago, I was picked up by a gallery and also got accepted into shows, festivals, etc., which was great, but got more expensive (shipping, booth fees, gallery taking a percentage of earnings, etc.). I picked up a steady stream of clients requesting commissions and was fortunate to land sales each month.
Family and in-laws started asking me how my business was doing. After telling them about artwork I sold, suddenly several family members wanted me to make free paintings for them.
Every time we get in touch, they will ask (or tease) me about the status of their paintings. I am conflicted because I feel obligated to make free art for them since they are family, but sometimes I still struggle to afford supplies, not to mention my rent.
They don’t know how busy I am with other commissions, which are really time intensive. Do I tell my family to hold off indefinitely for paintings until I can take care of clients and rent first? Is there a polite way to do this? — L, in Colorado
Dear L: If you want to create art to give to family members as gifts, then definitely do that, but that should be up to you.
If family members approach you to basically commission paintings, you could offer them a “friends and family” discount, but you must be paid for your work. If you don’t put a value on it, no one else will.
It is not necessary to be polite — you must only be clear: “I’m thrilled that you like my work. Here’s a link for some paintings I currently have for sale. If you like one, let me know. I’d be happy to offer you a discount.”
Dear Amy: In your response to the question from “Worried,” you noted your alarm that she was involved in a controlling and abusive marriage.
Amen to you! I was especially impressed that you suggested that Worried should not have children. Children will trap her in the relationship. I know, because my own abusive marriage became a nightmare. I was fortunate to be able to escape, and to save my kids. — Escaped
Dear Escaped: That called for some real bravery on your part. Good for you.