I'm thinking of sending this very LONG email to my partner's sister

The names have been changed to protect identities. I would appreciate your feedback.

I received your greeting card Friday, and quite frankly, it was depressing. Nathan told you he was gay years ago. You are aware that Nathan and I have been partners for nearly 13 years. Yet, you chose—you choose—to send Nathan and I each a card.

In such a gesture, what are you saying? It seems friendly enough. But the nefarious connotations aren’t lost on either of us. You have said, “I do not recognize the legitimacy of your relationship” more clearly in your actions than you could have said with words.

I do not wish ill for you. You would be correct if you assume that Nathan cares about you and wants you to be safe. You would be incorrect if you think that Nathan would choose his relationship with you—yes, all of you, his blood-kin over me. It is sad that you all would pose a choice to him-----no, not literally. You have not literally said it’s us or him, choose. Effectively, though, that’s the choice you are constantly putting before him. You being Crystal, his mom, and his Dad.

You may be hurt, offended, and/or confused over why Nathan chose to avoid meeting up with the Smiths over Thanksgiving. Did you consider inviting his partner? Have you ever thought how it might feel to him that you choose to minimalize the importance of his partner in his life?

To be clear, in as much as it effects me, I am not offended by the Smith’s denial of our relationship. I’m mostly neutral in my feelings toward you. I hope your life is going well. I hope you are satisfied with your choices. I hope that you and Tom are happy. But if I never saw you again my feelings are pretty much, “meh”. I don’t say that to offend you. I am merely acknowledging that I don’t know enough about you to care one way or the other.

However, I am offended by the Smith’s denial of our (MY) relationship in as much as it effects my partner. Nathan has considered distancing himself from his blood-kin. Why? Because as Don Henley says, “Sometimes love just ain’t enough”. Nathan loves you all. Exactly how much is that love worth is a question you guys are constantly flaunting before him. I suspect he is weighing the value of love against the weight of the drama.

Let me be clear, you, yes you personally, have offended Nathan and by doing so, indirectly offended me. The offense isn’t some egregious action. It is the willful dismissal of the value of Nathan and his feelings. It is hurtful that you would plan a vacation to Port Saint Joe and invite him to come if he stays in a hotel 60 miles away. It is hurtful for you to plan numerous family vacations without even inviting Nathan and his partner, yet you invite your other siblings, their children, and your parents and pay for everyone’s accommodations. It is hurtful that Nathan and his partner come to visit you and that you do not invite them to stay in your home. Nathan assumes and I concur with his assumption that your disdain probably derives from his being gay.

I would hope that were not the case. You are welcome to disabuse us of our assessments should you deem them incorrect.

Frankly, I am tired of fighting for you—you being the Smiths. Nathan has said to me on several occasions, “Maybe, I should just let it go.” And I have always pointed out that he loves his family and that they love him. But at some point, it is too heavy.

Let me relate one of the more recent interactions Nathan has had with his parents. When Nathan recently got a job in Dallas, he asked to stay with his parents while he searched for an apartment. Nathan’s parents told him that he could stay in their house. Nathan told his mom that he would be getting Netflix. When the movies arrived, Nathan’s mom took the movies to his dad. Nathan’s dad opened Nathan’s mail although the movies were clearly marked Nathan D Smith, that’s a CAPITAL D in there you know. Nathan’s mom and dad maintain that Nathan’s dad mistakenly opened TWO LETTERS. Nathan thinks it was intentional—as do I. We are all aware that Nathan and his dad have shared the same first and last name for forty years. The only difference is the middle name. I believe that Nathan’s parents are quite skilled in distinguishing between “D” and “H”.

But WAIT, THERE’s MORE! After opening Nathan’s mail, his dad confronted Nathan and said, “You haven’t changed!” His dad also reminded Nathan that “You’re going to hell.” Apparently Nathan’s dad thought Nathan was receiving porn from Netflix because one of the episode of SouthPark was entitled, “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”. So Nathan rented a room at an extended stay and left.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S STILL MORE! So after not talking to his parent’s for the week, he received a woeful message from his mom about how, “We’ve had such a bad week. We’ve been worried about you. We just feel so bad----” At that point, I was incredulous. Really, what kind of apology is that? ----we feel bad—It’s all about them. How positively passive-aggressive. An apology recognizes one’s culpability in an action. “I’m sorry I opened your mail and then thought the worse of you” is an apology. “We feel bad” is not.

Do you really need other examples? I could provide a book. But what would that do? My intent is to communicate, not to make you feel badly. I do not want or need another how’s-the-weather relationship. You have been an important and significant part of my partner’s life. It is possible that we can grow together and be an integral part of each other’s lives for a long time. However, lives change. It is also possible that maybe the time has come to recognize that we have incompatible philosophies, wish each other the best, and move on.

While it feels good to write the e-mail sending it will not help the situation. All you can do is be supportive of your partner and let him deal with his family as he sees fit.

Without even reading the letter, don’t send it.

After having read it, I’m sure you shouldn’t send it.

Have you told Nathan that you were thinking about sending this email? While you don’t need Nathan’s permission to communicate with his family, I think it would be courteous to discuss the email with him before sending it. I don’t know the situation, but if this email would reveal Nathan’s feelings, especially ones that he has not yet shared with his family, that’s complicated terrain.

Do you and Nathan live together? (It’s unclear whether she sent 2 cards to the same address or different addresses. Even if you don’t live together, I understand why her choice to send 2 cards would be offensive given the other circumstances.)

Was there anything offensive about the cards, other than the fact that there were two of them? Would this relative have even have sent you a card at all, if she didn’t recognize your relationship? It looks to me like you might be reading too much into this.

Both my partner and I agree that the letter is unlikely to help the situation. But he is >< this close to cutting them out. His family does not believe in direct communication. His mom will say, “You look tired. I think you need a break.” But she means, “I’m tired and want to go home.” I know that is not a great example, but the lack of clear communication is coupled with the dismissal of Nathan’s feelings. Nathan chose not to go to Thanksgiving with his family this year. Do they not deserve some explanation? Or is it that you feel the letter is too confrontational?

Are you saying that if he chooses to distance himself from his family it is better to do so passively and quietly?

It would be a terrible idea to send this message.

If “Nathan” has a problem with the way his family treats him, he should be the one to confront them about it. And there’s no reason to drag his sister into conflicts he’s had with his parents. It’s not her fault they opened his Netflix DVDs.

While Nathan would, if he chose to make them, have some valid complaints about his family, the fact that his sister sent separate Christmas cards is not one of them. Making a big deal about that seems really petty.

Nathan has read the letter and likes it. We are both unsure whether to send the letter. We have lived together for 13 years and been a couple for over 14.

Nathan is non-confrontational and has difficulty expressing his opinions to his family, but is open, communicative, effective, loyal, and loving to those who provide genuine support.

The cards are very skillfully written. There is no text that indicates the underlying manipulative motivations. We infer the motivations from prior actions.

Rat’s Rule for Letters:

If you have to ask whether you should send it, the answer is, “No.”

That he refuses to do this himself in some form or fashion does not mean you take this as your duty. They are HIS family not YOUR family. Your pointed, but somewhat self indulgent letter will be bandied about as evidence of how Nathan’s partner is a controlling, malevolent queen who is determined to destroy Nathan’s connection to his family. If you think otherwise you’re being delusional.

This is not your battle. Step off. If Nathan going to be supine in dealing with his family re your relationship and his lifestyle that’s a decision he will make. Your going to war with his family for him is a huge, huge mistake. He needs to be the one telling his family what’s what, not you.

The general consensus of opinion is “don’t send it”. OK. What alternatives are there? Does “don’t send this email” mean “don’t send any email”? Obviously the letter escalates the situation. How else can we obtain resolution?

Don’t send it. I get it. But do what? How would you handle this unpleasantness? Should Nathan gradually, quietly distance himself from his family?

Maybe Nathan should be the one making this determination, not you. (or a group of random strangers on the internet)

Yes, you should not send any email.

*This is not a “we” situation. As I already said, if Nathan has a problem with his family, it is up to him to deal with it. YOU should do nothing other than be supportive of your partner. You absolutely should not in any way even give the appearance of putting yourself between him and his family.

*It’s up to him to decide what he wants to do.

Is your beef REALLY the two cards or the reason WHY you think they sent to cards ?

If its the reason, then at the very least don’t even bring up the two card thing.

Hate to say this, but “two cards ?! you hate gay people” can only come off drama queeny.

Hell, they might have even actually thought sending two cards was being more nice than sending one.

If you think their opinions of gay couples in general is causing trouble, then by all means you as a couple should think and talk this out. But if you use any one thing as evidence, it could be wrong, it doesnt really matter, it might look stupid, and it will just put them on the defensive about something thats just irrelevant to the big issue at hand.

Nathan has been reading your responses and has been saying, “I don’t care. I think you should send it.”

I am reluctant to send it now. Before I wrote the letter, I told Nathan that I was going to write it because writing forces you to collect your thoughts. I told him that I probably wouldn’t send it because I don’t think it would accomplish anything.

After writing the letter, we even discussed the futility of the letter.

So what now? There is no way to discuss these issues without being a “drama queen”. Nathan’s family deserves no heads up? I don’t really understand what you guys are suggesting.

Again, if you missed it, Nathan wants me to send the letter inspite of your responses. If you think that he should be the one that sends a letter, what should he do? He can’t co-opt my text. It doesn’t sound like him.

Perhaps he could sit down and write one of his own. He could decide what the most important point or points are and write in his own words.

I’m a non-confrontational person as well, so I know how hard it is. Often I hash things over in my head for a few days before I put pen to paper (or talk to the person face-to-face).

Can Nathan have a face-to-face meeting with his sister? Just the two of them?

Sounds like Nathan needs to grow a spine, then. He shouldn’t be asking you to stand up to his family for him. Not only is it cowardly, it would do nothing to improve the situation. It would just make you look like whiny little meddler who was making a big deal out of nothing because you wanted to drive a wedge between Nathan and his family.

*We’re suggesting that you back off and leave Nathan to make his own decisions about how to deal with his family. If he wants to give them a “heads up” then he should. If he doesn’t, he shouldn’t. But whatever is done about this situation needs to be done by him, not you.

*Nathan does know how to write, doesn’t he? If he wants a letter to be sent, he should write his own. If he doesn’t want to write his own, there should be no letter. He shouldn’t be using you as a proxy in his dealings with his own family.

Are the cards the last in a long line of of this kind of stuff or is it a one time issue?

It seems to me that Crystal may be between a rock and a hard place as well. It could be that she wants to invite you but doesn’t feel she can because her Mom and Dad would freak. Or maybe she just sucks, I don’t know.

The big issues are two fold: First, separate Crystals actions from those of his parents. Second, I would have him ask, not assume, if the relationship bothers her (and her alone). It may be that she really doesn’t mind the relationship but wants to keep peace between Nathan and the parents. Maybe she doesn’t understand the protocol that you two are a couple and should be treated as such. (Then again, she just may suck) This should be in form of a question, not an accusation.

You seem to be working on the idea that her motive behind sending the two cards is that she doesn’t accept that your relationship with your partner is valid. That is a huge assumption to make unless she has said or done something that clearly shows the relationship bothers her. Without knowing more I can’t say but, once again, she may be trying to keep the peace between your partner and his parents or she may be clueless.


I agree that you sending the email just gives his family ammunition.

If you both are at the end of your ropes, then I suggest a short and to-the-point email sent to all of Nathan’s immediate family members to the effect that their lack of acceptance of Nathan’s homosexuality and you has led him to the unfortunate decision to cut himself off from them. He’s sorry it has come to this, but he is no longer willing to be treated like a second class citizen and is no longer willing to accept the lack of recognition of his partner of fourteen years. I would sign it “love always” and then move on with your lives.

Best of luck with all of this.

You make some good points. I was trying to use the two cards as an example, but it fails.

My family invited us to Thanksgiving. We spent the entire holiday period with my family. I don’t have much interaction with his folks. Whenever I’ve seen or visited with them, they have always been cordial. But behind my back they are always saying insidious things. His dad will corner him and say, “Nothing would make me happier than for you to break up with fervour.” But his dad only says non-confrontational things to me. I have never expressed anything meaningful to his family —just an “it’s good to see you” or “how have you been” or “how’s your knee”.

Although I wasn’t invited to the Smith’s Thanksgiving, I encouraged Nathan to go and visit for at least one meal during the holidays. He said he didn’t want to. I said it was up to him. He said he wanted his absence to make a statement. I’m of the opinion that talking is a better way to make a statement.

Nathan is non-confrontational, but he REALLY wants his family to know why their actions are offensive. Although I would like to help, I’m of the opinion that he should accept that his folks can not know how he feels due to his non-confrontational nature. He should drop the notion of a meaningful relationship and continue to either distance himself or feign family ties.