DEAR ABBY: My daughter got married in a friend's backyard three months ago. Her husband built an arch for the ceremony. He spent $285 on some very nice walnut, and they planned to keep it forever.
With my daughter's consent, my wife loaned it to a niece of hers. The arch was broken and thrown out. We found this out only after weeks of requesting that we get it back. They have offered to pay the $285, but without even a "sorry."
My daughter is extremely angry at my wife and the niece and her husband. I need words to console my wife and daughter. This has caused a deep emotional schism in our family. -- WEDDING MESS IN ARIZONA
DEAR MESS: It is time to talk to your daughter about priorities. Because of her deep emotional attachment to the arch her now-husband created for their wedding, her anger and hurt are justifiable.
That the niece and her husband not only damaged it but threw it away like a piece of garbage was terrible. That they not only didn't apologize, but also failed to recognize the sentimental value of the arch is shocking. (At least they offered to reimburse the cost of the wood.) However, for your daughter to blame your wife for the niece's carelessness is wrong.
It takes strength of character to forgive. This does not mean your daughter must forget what happened and how poorly it was handled. In the uncertain times we are experiencing, relationships and family unity are primary. I hope that, with time, your daughter and her husband will realize this and repair the rift while recognizing the niece's shortcomings in the future. ("Neither a borrower nor a lender be ...")