Carolyn Hax: Picky-eater sister-in-law is ‘maddening to be there’

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Dear Caroline: To say my sister-in-law is a picky eater would be a huge understatement. She hates more foods than she likes and feels the need to loudly proclaim her distaste for various foods at every opportunity. More than half the time when she’s dining out, she calls the waiter to complain about what’s on her plate and asks that it be taken out or recooked. When friends are discussing food or cooking and someone mentions a food she hates, she’ll go “Ewwww!” Yuck!” If she’s eating at someone else’s house, she’ll skim over the preparations in the kitchen, making sure every piece is prepared to her exact specifications.

She’s not allergic to food, she just doesn’t like it. It’s infuriating to be around her every time food is involved, but I can’t think of a way to discuss it with her that doesn’t offend her. Can you help ?

Fed up with Fresno: Discuss it with her for what purpose?

We’re talking about an adult saying “Ewwww! Yuck!” without irony in polite company whenever someone says “mushroom” or “clam”. So I’m not too hopeful that she gives in to the force of your logic.

However, there are some things you can do internally to make it less boring. First, don’t get so caught up in tasteless behavior that you miss the subtleties of taste in food. People often group all food refusals that don’t involve allergies under one heading: “optional.” And therefore childish, political or spoiled. There’s no doubt that some are — we’re talking about people, after all — but so many intolerances are physiological or principled that the onlookers who get angry at other people’s food blockages are the ones who start to look childish.

Has a specific food ever triggered your gag reflex? If not, you’re in luck, but if so, it won’t be a stretch to imagine what it would be like if 30 foods had this effect on you instead of just one. Now imagine how you would feel in a restaurant when a restaurant appears on your plate.

Think neurological, not jerkological, just in general, and you’ll like people so much better – your sister-in-law no doubt included.

This could also apply to his comments. Maybe she’s struggling with social cues. Maybe she’s getting anxious and that anxiety is spilling her filters. Perhaps she was criticized so much for parsley or cucumbers that she now reacts to the slightest provocation.

Maybe feel lucky, not judged.

Perhaps these are exaggerations – I suspect so myself – but they are not intended to serve as justifications. I offer each of you as a potential access point to your forgiveness reflex. Every time she starts, you can train yourself to think, “She’s not good at this for some reason,” instead of, “She’s so infuriating and I need to get her to stop.”

This technique may be too squishy for universal use, since you don’t want to force yourself to rationalize, for example, getting married or teaming up with or even befriending someone who annoys you in such a way predictable. But a brother-in-law tends not to be an optional part of our lives, like a co-worker or housemate or assigned neighbor – and for those obligatory people, I recommend any mental exercise that brings their “quirks” down to bearable size. .

Dear Caroline: My husband and I have been together for five years. He’s been my rock through all kinds of pretty unusual and terrible things.

Two weeks ago I found out that he was using dating sites almost daily. He lied saying it was an ad and his profile was inactive. A week later, I caught him using the site again, but didn’t confront him.

A friend who still uses the website sent me several screenshots of his profile with the words “online now!” indicator.

Since I’ve talked about this before, and he was being dishonest, what’s the best way forward? If he looks at the menu and doesn’t order, I feel like we can make it happen, but again, I don’t trust him to be honest about it.

— All feelings at once in Albuquerque

All feelings at once in Albuquerque: To adapt a phrase, the only way forward is to pass.

Let’s just ignore the low percentage possibilities (an advertisement, a hack, a Photoshop, an evil twin) and agree for the sake of the argument that you have it dead within its rights.

This is what you have to say to him, calmly:

“I killed you right. For me, lying to myself about it is worse than doing it. So please. Talk to me.”

Obviously, it’s not good news for your marriage when your spouse is actively dating in secret. But the most important news will come out of this conversation. Will he lie to you straight to a lawyer’s office, or will he let you two address you, no matter what the problem? If the truth is stuck somewhere in him, will he at least agree to advise you?

Because problems themselves don’t end marriages. Hitting a wall when trying to solve them does.

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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