Dear Ellie: My friend is 15 years younger than me; we used to work together. During the lockdown, she was a lifesaver. I left an abusive relationship at the pandemic’s start and lost a lot of friends, family and money. I had to file bankruptcy. I’m on a tight budget, despite working full-time.
I gave her a fantastic Christmas gift. She got me nothing. She’s never been in debt and her parents pay for everything. Maybe she doesn’t understand how important it is to me, with no family, to have my friends show love and appreciation.
Her birthday’s soon so I feel I have to spend $50, which I don’t have, for a gift, because I want to be that kind of friend. Her birthday will be a family thing outdoors with kids, but she wants me to “bring friends if I want.”
But if she doesn’t get me anything again this year, I’ll likely be so bitter and resentful that I’ll lose an important friend.
Good Friends in Short Supply
A “lifesaver friend” is too important to lose. Your $50 gift was well-intended, but focusing on whether she reciprocates weakens your relationship.
She’s generously welcomed you to bring your friends along to her party.
Your recent difficulties have been understandably harsh… but she’s remained caring and close.
Perhaps she’s messaging that you don’t have to gift her in future, after all you’ve been through.
Focusing on the gift exchange diminishes the real friendship, which already shows her love and appreciation for you.
Dear Ellie: My husband of 43 years doesn’t enjoy spending time with our grandchildren, ages eight and four. He’s always correcting their behaviour and gets very upset when they’re visiting.
I enjoy them and love my relationship with them. They spend a weekend at our house every few weeks. Living two hours away from us, day trips aren’t feasible.
It’s causing marital difficulties because we can’t agree. How can we resolve this?
Your relationship will become very strained and negatively affect the youngsters, if changes aren’t made.
Since there may be a health issue involved, including age-related impatience, pinpoint what upsets him. You may want to ask his doctor if there’s some understandable reason for his negativity and discomfort.
Meanwhile, his constantly “correcting” children makes them uneasy and confused.
Enjoy the children yourself. If necessary, periodically visit them at their parents’ home for a weekend away from your husband … for the kids’ sake and your own.
FEEDBACK regarding the woman whose husband repeatedly cheated on her, wondering if she can trust him again (May 6):
Reader — “I say no. During my first marriage I found papers with women’s names and phone numbers in his pockets. I called each one, telling them he was married and had a young son. They apologized.
“I was married to a jerk. He asked my permission to be with other women. I filed for separation and divorce.
“I’m disabled regarding mobility. I told my second husband to divorce me so he could find a healthy woman. He refused.
“After 20-plus years, at 71, I’m so much more in love that I tell him I adore him every day. I have such respect for him, he has strong morals, and helped me raise a genius son.
“If a woman lives in fear of her partner’s cheating, the love is over.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the guy feeling rushed to marry (April 7):
Reader — “Be very careful. Ellie/Lisi’s response is full of excellent advice to definitely be heeded. Because the two have met in person, it does not necessarily sound like a scam, but he still needs to be cautious.
“The other possibility is that her parents are pushing her to move things along. The pressure or scam or maybe even intimidation could be coming from them. So, he definitely needs to meet her family first.
“However, everything could also be legitimate and she is just eager, anxious, and/or insecure. I would strongly suggest that he plans a visit to see her in her home and meet her friends and family. I suspect the answer will be revealed then whether it’s worth the effort to pursue.
“Their age difference is the least of their worries. Financial, culture, religion, family values are greater issues that need to be fully investigated.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
True friendship is about caring when it matters, not about gift exchanges.
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