Dear Abby: My daughter knew that I had been trying to finance a trip to South America for my husband so he could complete his “bucket list.” She gave me a cruise on one of the most expensive cruise lines and airfare as a gift for helping with their home purchase. After my husband reviewed the itinerary, he said that it wasn’t the trip he had in mind and wanted to know whether my daughter could change it. I was embarrassed to ask her after receiving such a gracious gift. He became indignant and said that if she really wanted to give him something he wanted, she wouldn’t mind changing it.
I told my daughter I couldn’t accept her gift because it was too much money. My husband is now angry with me because he feels I’m the person at fault for the loss of the trip. Is my husband right that we should request a gift exchange from the giver, or was I justified for not accepting it in light of the fact that it was so much money?
– Just Wants Peace
Dear Just Wants Peace: Your husband sounds like a handful. He was at fault. Your mistake was allowing him to put you in the middle. I’m sorry you fibbed to your daughter about why you refused her generosity, because the expense had nothing to do with it. Your husband’s ingratitude had everything to do with it. Because the cruise didn’t suit him, he should have spoken to her and asked whether the itinerary could be adjusted. That way, nothing could have been lost in translation, and he might have gotten his wish.
The last word on Dear John
Dear Abby: During World War II, while I was overseas in the Navy, I received a Dear John letter. It was devastating, especially because I was so far away and unable to immediately respond. Do you think it is appropriate for a person to send such a letter while the person is far away, especially while in the service, or should the person wait until the service member returns home and say it’s over face-to-face?
I’ve heard many pros and cons about this question. After hearing from you, I will finally be able to put this to rest.
– John in Vineland, N.J.
Dear John: A decade ago, I would have said – and did tell someone – to wait until the person came home. My thinking was the news might demoralize the recipient and distract the person enough to get her/him killed.
I changed my mind after hearing from service members stationed in the Middle East who told me I was wrong – that it’s better to get the word while there were buddies close by who could be emotionally supportive. They suggested that if the service member hears the news when he gets back – alone and possibly traumatized by what he or she has been through – that it could make the person more vulnerable to suicide.