Dear Amy: In my mailbox today was a credit card bill addressed to my husband with a sticky note attached.
Our next-door neighbor (she has a mailbox next to ours at the end of our driveway) explained that the piece of mail had been misdirected and she sliced open this bill, not knowing it belonged to my husband.
The last time a piece of mail was misdirected it happened to be my husband’s paystub. This was also sliced open with a sticky note attached, apologizing.
What is so dismaying is that we have received our neighbor’s mail but we do not open it — we are quite careful about scanning the front of the envelope before opening.
This neighbor now knows my husband’s salary and also how much he owes.
How should we handle this?
— Frustrated in Colorado
Dear Frustrated: My first suggestion is that you and your husband should go “paperless” and switch all of your financial records, banking, and bill paying to online.
You should both get fresh credit reports and monitor these regularly.
Also — tell your neighbor that you understand that mistakes happen, but that you do not want her to open your mail — ever.
It is not illegal to mistakenly open someone else’s mail — as long as the mail makes its way to the appropriate recipient.
According to 18 U.S. Code 1702, it is a potentially serious offense to deliberately open someone else’s mail.
Notify this neighbor, “This has happened twice now. We look at all the mail that lands in our box very carefully and make sure it is ours before opening it. We expect you to be as careful with our mail as we are with yours. This is a serious violation of our privacy, and we hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Dear Amy: My husband and I are both now 70. We have four adult children.
Our daughter lives in a different country and before COVID we would visit one another at least once a year.
It has been sad for us that our grandchildren are so far away, even though technology has enabled us to have a good relationship.
We were finally able to visit them in person last summer after almost four years.
While talking to her father recently she told him that ever since his birthday she’d been thinking she’d like to go on a trip just with him, and that she thinks she can easily get away for two weeks to make it happen.
She did not make this offer to me.
I don’t think that I need to be included in a special father-daughter trip, but the fact that she doesn’t have the desire to have a similar special time with me has hurt me deeply.
How do I get over this?
— Second Place Mom
Dear Second Place Mom: You and your husband have both turned 70.
Your daughter seems to have seen this landmark birthday as a good reason to spend special time with her father (and it is).
You don’t offer any details, so I’ll speculate as to her reasons:
— When she saw the two of you recently, her perception was that her father had aged a lot during the past year. She is worried about him.
— They’ve always had a close connection, and she misses him.
— They’ve never had a close connection, and she wants to forge one.
— You and she have always been close, and she takes your relationship for granted.
— You and she have never been close, and her exclusion is deliberate.
— Or … she is planning a special mother-daughter trip for next year.
You should tell her, “I love the idea of your father-daughter trip. Dad’s really looking forward to it. But I have to be honest that my feelings have been hurt that you didn’t think to do this with me. Is everything OK between us?”
The way to get over this is to deliberately alter your attitude toward it.
Take the magnanimous high road, respond generously, and you’ll feel much better about yourself — and them.
Dear Amy: “Basically a Single Mom” described her husband’s neglectful behavior toward their two children.
This man needs to get off his butt (and off his phone) and help with his own kids!
A therapist may help this couple explore why he doesn’t expect to have to do anything. Maybe his father did zero and he expects to follow suit.
But if he doesn’t man up, he may lose his wife and kids.
Dear Chris: Great response. Thank you!
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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