DEAR ABBY: Every year for the last six years, I have hosted a family gathering at my home. Each and every year, my cousin's wife "Jodie" does everything possible to ensure that we all know she's upset about something. She'll sit on my couch as far removed from the family as possible, grumbling under her breath to her husband. Jodie never says more than four words to me (the hostess) the entire time -- none of which are "thank you" -- then she feigns food poisoning! (No one else gets sick.)
This has been going on longer than the six years I have hosted this event. My question is, would it be tactless of me to ask my cousin to leave his wife home next year? I am not the only family member who is disgusted with Jodie's behavior. I think we'd all have a better time if she wasn't there. Would that be wrong of me? -- SICK OF CODDLING HER IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SICK: For a person to repeatedly act the way you have described is not normal behavior. Your cousin's wife may suffer from some significant emotional problems. Is no one in your family close enough to your cousin to express concern about it?
While it would, indeed, be tactless to tell him to leave his wife home instead of bringing her to a family gathering, it might be less so to mention gently that you have noticed she doesn't enjoy herself when she visits -- and that her attendance isn't compulsory. Then listen to what he has to say because it may be enlightening.