Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

Dear Amy: I am close with my niece, who recently got engaged. Her now-fiance was up front, by saying he didn’t really believe in marriage. She was up front, too, saying that if he ever wanted to buy a house, her name would not go on a mortgage if they weren’t married. Not that she would break up with him, she would stay, but she would want a lease agreement rather than put her name on the mortgage.

Recently, he got serious about buying a house and my niece stuck to her guns, either get married or sign a lease. He proposed.

Now he says his grandparents have to be at the wedding. But they are almost 5,000 miles away and too old to fly, so he is insisting they get married where the grandparents live.

Amy, my niece’s father has advanced Parkinson’s disease and can’t possibly travel that far, either. In addition, 98 percent of both of their immediate families are being excluded from the wedding held in this remote location, because they can’t afford to get there.

I think he is being passive-aggressive because of my niece’s refusal to put her name on a mortgage without being married. This business of excluding her father and disenfranchising her entire family from the wedding is unconscionable.

I think he is purposely creating obstacles because he doesn’t really want to get married.

My niece has asked me for advice. She really loves him and wants to marry him, but she sees it as a stalemate on the location, I see a reluctant groom.

What should I tell her?

— Worried Aunt

Dear Aunt: My perspective about this couple is that they use negotiation, rather than consensus, to advance their relationship. I don’t think this is hugely uncommon. However, if this is the way they operate and communicate, your niece needs to be prepared for future stalemates, especially surrounding large life events that are already stressful. Have they talked about having children, how to share their expenses or future care issues having to do with their parents?

Her fiance’s choice doesn’t seem to honor her or her family relationships. In fact, unless he can suggest or agree to a compromise, his choice seems hostile.

Fortunately for you, this doesn’t concern you directly. When your niece asks you for advice, you could be both honest and circumspect, and say, “You two seem to see this as a stalemate on the location for your wedding, but I see it as being bigger than that. Have you had your premarital counseling yet?”

Dear Amy: I recently received a postcard from the sheriff’s department stating that a neighbor is a “registered sex offender.”

The notification said his crime was committed 30 years ago and that he failed to register properly when he moved here. It does not state where the original offense occurred.

I’ve been on a neighborly first-name basis with him for several years in our community and he has always seemed like a nice enough guy, though I don’t know him well. I don’t feel threatened by him.

We waved and exchanged a “Hi” yesterday for the first time since I received the notice. I assume he knows all of his neighbors have received it.

I hate to display my ignorance, but what, if anything, has changed with receipt of that postcard?

— Wondering Neighbor

Dear Neighbor: What has changed is your knowledge that your neighbor committed a crime against another person 30 years ago.

You can learn as much as is legally allowable by using the sex offender database to search your neighbor’s record. My own research reveals that there are different designations and “risk level determinations” assigned to sex offenders.

In my state, a person at the lowest risk level will get their name removed from the database after 20 years. Your neighbor might have committed a more serious offense to still be listed. The database might reveal specific details of his crime.

The postcard notification is specifically designed to inform people, so that you may then make your own determination regarding a relationship with this person in your community. So, after you do some research, the rest is up to you.

Dear Amy: As the survivor of two suicides in my family, I want to thank you for your nuanced response to “Anxious,” the mother who wanted to tell her young daughter about the grandfather’s suicide. I agree that the daughter must (eventually) be told, but this couple absolutely must face this together.

— Grateful

Dear Grateful: Thank you.

Contact Amy Dickinson at: askamy@amydickinson.com.