Watch what you come to treasure in relationships
BY AMY DICKINSON
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
1/08/13 at 8:20 AM
Dear Amy: I have been married for 25 years and have enjoyed an ever-evolving relationship with my father-in-law that has progressed steadily over the years. The relationship was grounded in respect, and we were careful concerning our political differences. Next we began moving into friendly toleration and finally to a solid friendship based on genuine, mutual admiration.
My father-in-law turned 80 this year, and he is in relatively good health. He has a very nice wristwatch. It is not extremely valuable, and I own a comparable one myself. He may outlive me, but if not, I would treasure receiving this watch, which I would honor in memory of him. He has one other son-in-law, no living sons and five grandsons who are in their teens.
What is a good way, if any, to let him know of my desire to be the holder of his watch for the rest of my life? - Son-in-law
Dear Son-In-Law: There is no "good" way to overtly ask for an inheritance. You obviously treasure your father-in-law - and his watch - but I suggest treasuring the former more and the latter far less.
Imagine the position you put this older man in by making your material interests known. First of all, any bequest is predicated on his death. Depending on his personality, he may not care to contemplate this to satisfy you. He has another son-in-law and many grandsons (not to mention daughters), all of whom might be eager and worthy recipients of this watch.
If your father-in-law is reviewing his possessions with you and/or your wife, you or she can indicate that you would value, keep and wear this watch if he cared to pass it along to you. Otherwise, remember that where your heart is, there your (true) treasure will be.
Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I recently attended a Christmas party where a 5-year-old was asking adults if they believed in Santa. Everyone around us responded "yes," but my boyfriend responded "no," which made the boy visibly sad.
I believe that it was not our place to tell someone else's child our true opinions about Santa, but my boyfriend maintains that he did not want to lie to the boy because he was angry at his parents when he found out they had lied to him about Santa.
What is the proper etiquette in this situation? - Confused Elf
Dear Confused: It's always a good idea to try to leave a 5-year-old pretty much as you found him.
The socially smooth way to handle such a straightforward question of belief or faith is to understand at the outset that the question itself contains a trap. And so one says, "Hmmm. Good question. What do you think?"
Send questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.