DEAR ABBY: My older sister visits me every week to play cards and chat. While I love her dearly and enjoy her visits, sometimes I do not appreciate one topic she brings up.
We are on different ends of the political spectrum. Although I never initiate a conversation about the candidate she voted for in the last election, she never misses an opportunity to debase my choice for the same office. It's distressing, and I nearly cried the last time she made a derogatory remark about him. When she doesn't bring up politics, we have a wonderful time. Why does she do this? Is she clueless about how much this bothers me? I am a quiet person who doesn't like confrontation or making others feel bad, so I generally just nod my head or listen without saying anything. I sometimes dread seeing her because I never know if she is going to bring up politics. Do you have a polite, nonconfrontational way of making her stop? -- OPPOSITE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR OPPOSITE: Yes, I do: Quit nodding your head and establish some ground rules with Sissy. Tell her that you love her company but that the pejorative political comments must stop. Make clear that you want politics off the table when she visits because the subject is so upsetting, and that if she cannot comply, you will be seeing her less often. Period! Standing up for yourself is not being confrontational. You are long overdue for that brief chat. If you cannot do this, then stop blaming her, and be prepared for more -- much more -- of the same.
DEAR ABBY: How do I keep my frugal friend from meddling? I enjoy her friendship, but our lives are not the same. I married a well-to-do man, and I haven't had to work, although I'm still careful about what I spend, and I try to find bargains on food, clothing, kids' items and travel. My friend is single and she's always finding ways to cut corners. What she doesn't realize is that her advice becomes unwanted after a while.
An example: We went grocery shopping and, when I tried to buy a turkey, she went on and on about how much money I could save by catching the sale at the next store. If I mention that my husband and I are going out to dinner, she insists on telling me how much money I could save if I cooked more often at home. It is endless. I have told her in so many words I don't need advice about money and, while I admire her thriftiness, I do just fine by myself. I try to steer the conversations away from these subjects, but it's hard to give her the details of what I do without getting some retort that her way is better. I rarely ask for her advice; she just gives it. What can I say that won't end our friendship yet will get the point across? -- TIRED OF CLIPPING COUPONS IN OHIO
DEAR TIRED: The answer to your question may have more to do with what you don't say than what you do. If you have already told your friend that you are managing well and living within your means, from now on stop telling her all the details of your life that have to do with shopping, travel and entertainment outside of what you do together. If that doesn't work, then you may have to use the direct approach and explain that what she's doing, although it's well-intentioned, bothers you and it has to stop.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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