Dear Margo: My younger sister, "Tammy," is getting married in August, and she's turning into a real bridezilla. I am one of the bridesmaids for the wedding. The drama started when my husband and I announced that we were expecting our first child. My sister accused us of getting pregnant "to ruin her wedding." She is now upset because people (supposedly) will be paying attention to me and not her at the wedding. (I'll be six months pregnant.)
Now she has crossed another line. I have been instructed that I am "not allowed" to have a farmer's tan on the day of the wedding. I ride horses and spend a lot of time in the sun. Even though I apply sunscreen with a high SPF, I still end up with a farmer's tan every summer. I told my mom Tammy is going to have to deal with it; it is unavoidable, and I'm not going to a tanning salon. Mom says I'm being terrible, and she doesn't want bitterness and arguing on the wedding day.
I'd just as soon not be in the wedding, but my sister thinks that would look even worse. Am I being stubborn, or has she crossed the line with her orders about how my body should or should not look on her "special day"? — Had About Enough
Dear Had: Your sister's conspiracy theory that you arranged your pregnancy to pull focus on her wedding day tells me that she is majorly insecure and perhaps does not have the fondest feelings for you. You do not say what the relationship was like before the nuptial plans, but my guess is not great.
Like pregnancy, a tan is an act of nature and certainly nothing you can undo. If you want to go the extra mile, I suppose you could put bronzer on the parts of your skin that remain untanned, but that is your call. I agree that the bride-to-be has delusions regarding what she has a say about, so I would tell her you cannot change the fact of your pregnancy or your exposure to the sun, but you'll gladly be a guest at the wedding to spare her talk of the pregnant bridesmaid with the tan lines. Invite her to make the call. More than this you cannot do. — Margo, normally
Dear Margo: I am a 30-something single mother of two. I've largely stayed away from the dating scene so I could spend much-needed time with my kids. But I recently met someone for whom I've fallen head over heels. Unfortunately, he's in the military, stationed 4,200 miles away.
He is just wonderful. We can spend three hours on the phone, and it seems like 20 minutes. We both feel the same way about each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together. The hitch is that when he is upset about something, he shuts me out and won't respond to me for two or three days. This really wears on me because I never know what's happened. My mother used to do this to me when I was younger — wouldn't talk to me for days on end — so this is a real hot button for me. I want this to work, but I don't know what to do. — Looking for a Workaround
Dear Look: How lucky can you get? A guy who pulls the same punitive stunt your mother did! Before you get in deeper, you need to tell your military man that unexplained silences about unnamed issues are not in your plans. Whether or not you tell him of your mother, he needs to know that when you've said something he finds upsetting, he must discuss it with you ... at the time. If he cannot correct this not inconsequential problem, I don't see a happy future together. — Margo, directly
Sex Ed for a Younger Sibling
Dear Margo: My sister is 10 years old and in the fifth grade. Recently, her health class was divided up by gender, and the boys and girls were separately taught a unit about the changes their bodies would undergo during puberty. My sister was telling me about this the last time I was home from college, and I asked whether she had learned about reproduction. She replied no, that she had only learned about getting her period. Then, quite nonchalantly I thought, she said, "I'll probably learn about it (reproduction) from my friends."
When I was her age, I learned about sex from a children's book. My school system — the same one where she is enrolled — did not teach any lessons about reproduction until high school biology, and our parents never gave me a "talk" of any sort except to tell me to abstain. I worry that waiting for her to learn about sex from her friends is not the best way to handle that situation.
My sister is rather precocious and mature for her age. Given this, I wonder whether it might be better for me to educate her about sex myself. (I am 19 and have been safely sexually active since I was 17.) I want to let her know she can come to me with any questions she might have. I feel my parents would not be supportive of my doing this, but I don't think they plan to talk to her about it themselves. What do you think is the best option here? — Pondering in Pittsford
Dear Pond: As the big sister, who sounds very thoughtful, I would affirm your doing a bare-bones explanation of reproduction now since you say her school system does not get into this until high school, which for your sister is three years away. I suspect her guess is correct that the other kids will "teach" that subject, so better that you do it. I would've said run this by your mother, but because you seem to know that she wouldn't encourage your approach, skip that. In fact, your parents' avoidance of the larger subject convinces me that you are right. And what could be more comfortable than an attentive big sister? — Margo, educationally
Good Hands, Big Mouth
Dear Margo: I get regular massages from a man who has the hands of a god. He is by far the best massage therapist I've ever had. My problem is that he talks too much. He likes to talk about his kids and his ongoing divorce battles. I don't mind chatting a bit, but it has gotten to the point that I am not enjoying what should be a very pleasurable time. To be fair, I think I promoted his chatting by asking about his family and commenting back. But I really want to stop it now. Can you help me come up with a kind and gentle way of saying, "Please, let me just relax"? — Want To Get It My Way
Dear Want: Because you made the mistake of making conversation in the first place, he followed your lead. Most masseurs do. Had you been silent from the get-go, I'm betting he would have taken your cue. Now it's up to you to change the routine. I think you can do that gracefully by saying, "Sam, your work is so superior to anyone else's that I've decided to get the full benefit by relaxing and meditating. I've decided this is the one place where I can be silent and just feel pampered." If he's really dense, repeat your wishes. — Margo, peacefully
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.