ASK AMY: Couple masters the art of asking

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Dear Amy: My son and his girlfriend just announced their plans to get married this year. It’s the first marriage for both of them and we couldn’t be happier.

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However, we were very surprised when they asked us what contribution we would make to the wedding.

I had always understood that the wedding expenses were the responsibility of the bride’s family, and said so, but they said it was an “outdated” custom.

We were caught off guard and don’t know how to react.

Her family generously gives them a healthy amount to use for wedding, honeymoon, etc. This should be more than enough to cover the wedding costs.

We will be hosting the rehearsal dinner (a traditional groom’s family responsibility) and plan to give them a nice check for a wedding gift (but not as much as the bride’s contribution).

A few years ago we gave our son the bulk of the down payment for the house they now live in together and we feel like we’ve already done our part. That gift was about double the money the bride’s family gives.

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Are we hopelessly outdated?

How do we deal with their expectations without causing bad feelings?

– Dated parents

Dear parents: The bridal couple should be responsible for financing their wedding. One way to do this is to ask both parents to contribute and then plan the wedding they can afford.

Your son and his fiancé may seem particularly sassy when it comes to “asking,” but that’s all they do – they ask.

All they need from you is an answer: “In addition to the amount we gave you for your deposit, we’ll pay for the rehearsal dinner. We also planned to give you a check for (state the amount) as a wedding gift, and if you want it now rather than later, just let us know.”

This couple is responsible for managing their own expectations. This is “growing up” of the first order.

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Dear Amy: This has happened several times since my husband died:

I live alone and people bring me food.

This is happening without my knowledge, so I can’t tell them in advance that there’s a lot of food I can’t eat.

I’m very grateful that they think of me, but I just don’t understand the concept very well.

I am not a locked up person, I am not sick and I could definitely lose some extra weight.

Today a colleague knew I was coming home from a weekend away and delivered a very spicy stew. She texted me to say she left it at my house.

I opened the container and knew immediately that if I ate it I would be sick for days.

How can I politely thank her but get the message that I can’t eat it?

For the people who feel the need to feed others, talk to them first to find out what they are eating and if they have space to store the food!

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– Overfed

Best Overfed: I can’t imagine how the concept of bringing food to a bereaved person has escaped your notice. Every region and culture I can think of contains some version of this practice, and while you make a strong case for the burden of receiving food if you didn’t ask for it, and a very good point regarding the challenge of food you cannot consume, I hope you understand that there is a real spirit of generosity behind this effort.

You can thank your coworker with a version of this: “Thank you so much for dropping off the container of stew! I’m so touched that you thought of me. Unfortunately for me, I can’t eat anything spicy, but oh, it smells so good. If I can find space in my freezer I’ll save it for a hungry guest Let me know if you want me to send the container back I’m fine now, and I’m so grateful for your thoughtfulness, but happy for me I am all set for dinner.”

Dear Amy: Your reaction to Grandpa bringing cookies for his grandchildren when he looked at them was ridiculous.

You attacked his character completely, saying he is lazy and suggesting that he could exert his “power” in other ways.

That was exaggerated and a bit dramatic.

Don’t be so lazy with swearing.

– disgusted

Best Disgusted: This grandfather’s choice was to ignore the express wishes of the children’s parents. So yes, he seemed like a lazy and disrespectful caregiver.

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