Dear Ann Cannon • My boyfriend and I have talked about getting married. We made the mistake of telling his parents. They are relentlessly hounding us now, asking about our plans, etc. Also, they’ve encouraged his very large and loud family to join in. It’s enough to make me want to run far, far away. What can I do to stop this?
— Feeling Pressured
Dear Pressured • What can you do to stop this? Well, you can follow your own advice and run far, far away. Or you can stick around and see if one of the following strategies works for you:
1. Put the word out through his family grapevine that you want people to knock it off.
2. Better yet, tell your boyfriend to put the word out through his family grapevine that you want people to knock it off.
3. Since neither one of these strategies is likely to work in real life, just go ahead and get married already.
OK. I apologize for being flippant. You’re in an awkward, uncomfortable position, to be sure. On the one hand, it’s awesome that your boyfriend’s family clearly likes and approves of you. Not every girlfriend has that experience. Still, it’s tough to deal with the kind of pressure you’ve described — especially if you’re not sure you want to take such a serious step right now. Or ever. I actually know people who’ve married because of familial pressure, and no, I don’t recommend it. So don’t commit until YOU are ready to commit, is what I’m saying.
How do you deal with his family members in the meantime? Smile. Be a good sport. Put up with their enthusiasm. I’m guessing they’ll calm down. Eventually.
Hang in there!
Dear Ann Cannon • I have my nieces and nephew over for dinner or take them out to eat routinely. I used to think that they were all very lovely, thoughtful people. But as they’ve gotten older, their devices (phones, etc.) occupy their attention, even at dinner. Short of texting them while we’re eating together, what should I do?
— Annoyed Aunt
Dear Annoyed Aunt • Be direct. Tell them politely and firmly to put away their phones while you’re all sitting together at the dinner table. At some level they probably know they’re being rude, so help them be their better selves.
Dear Tribune Readers • I’ve used the phrase “committed suicide” in several recent columns. This past week a reader sent me a thoughtful email, encouraging me to reconsider the language I use. Here’s what she said:
“The currently preferred terminology in the mental health community is to use the phrase ‘died by suicide’ rather than ‘committed suicide.’ It is a small and subtle but important change in helping the general public to understand that suicide is a mental health matter. I recently attended a Youth Mental Health First Aid course (similar to learning CPR but for mental health) and one of the trainers at the course noted the preferred terminology. It will help shift the blame that we too often place on a person who dies in such a difficult way and help us all to approach the topic in a more informed way.”
I’m grateful to the reader who sent this email. Anything that helps us talk about suicide in a more compassionate, knowledgeable way is definitely worth noting.