Ask Amy

Sunday, August 16, 2009 at 11:44pm

DEAR AMY: My fiance moved out of our apartment to his brothers' house. He made it clear that we were not breaking up and said that this separation would just be for a little while.

This is the third time in our seven years together that he has left.

The first time, he signed the lease but never managed to move in. He never broke up with me, but had his brothers tell me that he and I should act like we are just friends.

The second time he left we were living together and he broke up with me.

He went to live with his brothers and said he still wanted to be friends.

Now we are engaged (the wedding has been postponed), and even though he moved in with his brothers again, he has made it clear that we are not breaking up.

Is this just another way of him "wanting to be friends" but not wanting to have to officially break up?

Isn't moving out and sneaking around a sign that we have broken up?

If we are broken up, do I have to give back the ring?

—Wondering Fiancee

When someone dumps you three times and still manages to spread enough confusion that you're wondering whether you're still together, either he is especially deceptive or you are in denial.

It's safe to say that you and your guy are now exes.

Over time, he seems way more interested in living with his brothers than with you, so now that he's left, make sure he stays gone.

Because he left you, you get to keep the ring.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married almost three years. We are both 25 years old. We have talked about having kids, but we want to wait.

Since the day we got married, my mother-in-law has been asking when we are having kids. We politely say, "Some day" or "In a few more years," but that's never good enough.

When my nephew was born and my husband was holding him, she said, "Well, he would love to have kids, but this one (pointing at me) doesn't want them."

She told my sister-in-law: "They're probably trying, but maybe she's having trouble getting pregnant."

What can I do to make her stop blaming this on me?

Whenever she says things, it's usually to other people, but always within my earshot.

I want to have a good relationship with her, but this is becoming an issue for me.

What should I do?

—This One

DEAR THIS ONE: When your mother-in-law rudely remarks on your intimate business, your husband should step in and shut her down. He should do this because he is her son and, therefore, has the most authority with her—if he dares to use it.

Your mother-in-law counts on others to be nervously polite, giving her the freedom to offend at will.

You could try to wrest back some of the power by being good-humored, unfazed and oblique. For instance, if you're within earshot and your mother-in-law refers to you as "This One," say, "'This One'? Why so formal? Please—feel free to call me 'This.'"

You could also tell your mother-in-law the truth, though taking her into your confidence wouldn't encourage her to behave differently.

For several years, I've hosted a ladies summer get-together.

Invitees are asked to R.S.V.P. via e-mail or phone by a certain date.

The goal is to reconnect with those we don't see often.

About 85 percent respond, the rest either don't respond at all, show up unannounced, respond after the date requested or respond in the affirmative only to have something else come up last minute.

I am not offended by a negative response, but get frustrated and annoyed by those who don't respond.

Should I not invite those ladies next year?


DEAR ANNOYED: An 85 percent response rate is actually quite good. Well done.

If someone doesn't respond at all for two years in a row, you should remove her from the list.

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