Dear Abby: Couple’s constant complaining ruins our group gatherings

Their friend needs a polite way to tell them to knock it off with the negativity.

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DEAR ABBY: We have a group of friends who get together most Friday nights. We go out to eat, meet for drinks or gather at one of the group member’s homes for dinner and drinks. One person in particular constantly complains about everything every single week.

They don’t like the restaurant that was chosen, or the food the host prepared or the place the pizza was ordered from. Once, they kept repeatedly telling the host they wanted to punch the host’s son in the face because he was rude to the host on his way out for the evening. This guest’s spouse also nitpicks relentlessly. It makes everybody uncomfortable.

It has reached the point that the group doesn’t want to get together anymore because of the damper this couple puts on the evening. My spouse and I haven’t seen the group for several weeks now, but we miss them. Is there a polite way to tell this couple their negativity is a drag on the rest of the group, and maybe they should seek professional help or learn to keep their mouths shut? — DOWN WITH THE DOWNER

DEAR DOWN: No, there isn’t. But you could stop inviting this particular couple. If you are asked about it, all you have to say is that you grew tired of their constant criticism, which put a damper on the events.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter is married with two children and, so far, she’s happy with a wonderful husband and a beautiful home. My concern — or curiosity — is that they have hung professionally done photos of themselves, their kids, their friends and candid images from their wedding in many of the rooms on the first floor, but there are none of my husband and me or the other grandparents. Every Christmas we receive another framed family photo of them. What would you think if we gifted them a lovely portrait of us? — UNSEEN IN MINNESOTA

DEAR UNSEEN: I think it’s worth a try, but don’t be offended if they don’t display it. They appear to be so centered on their nuclear family that there isn’t room for anyone else in their picture-perfect house.

DEAR ABBY: Recently, my wife told me her brothers have been mad at her for more than a decade and don’t talk to her because of something I said at a family get-together 12 years ago. I asked what they were mad about and what the discussion was about that upset them, but they didn’t say — they just quit contacting her. To me, it’s childish and rude to treat their sister that way. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? — DID NOT KNOW IN THE SOUTH

DEAR DID NOT: Yes, I do. The term for what your wife’s brothers have been doing is “passive aggression.” Because your wife’s brothers aren’t willing to address the issue, nothing can be done to resolve it. This is why I suggest the two of you — and whatever other relatives you do get along with — go on with your lives and waste no more time looking back.

DEAR READERS: Time flies! Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour at bedtime tonight. And while you’re at it, be sure to put fresh batteries in your fire alarms and smoke detectors. — LOVE, ABBY

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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