Dear Prudence

I Helped My Sister Burn Her Wedding Dress. Now My Other Sister Won’t Speak to Me.

I don’t want this feud to spread, but I feel stuck.

Collage of two women fighting over a wedding dress.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Bogdan Kurylo/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Prostock-Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Prudence,

My two sisters and I are all close in age. “Chloe” got engaged first but has put the wedding off due to grad school. “Zoe” got engaged a few months afterward and was looking at a whirlwind wedding. She bought the dress and then caught her fiancé cheating on her. I was with Zoe at the time, and she was devastated. We got drunk and emotional, and Zoe decided to burn the dress along with some of her ex’s things. I was just happy to see Zoe stop crying. We held a “ceremony” where she cleansed herself of everything that came from him and posted a picture to a private social media account. Chloe texted me in a rage: Why had I let Zoe ruin “her” dress? Chloe thought Zoe should have given her the dress since they are similar in size and said she was owed it since her wedding budget was already stretched thin.

I told her that was the most selfish thing I have ever heard and that she needed to get some perspective. She told me Zoe and I “don’t get” how hard her life is. I blocked her number. Chloe has neither apologized nor mentioned anything to anyone. She’s been very cold to me ever since, and everyone else in our family has noticed. She stirs the pot by saying “She knows what she did” about me, and I get asked why we are fighting. I haven’t revealed the truth, since it will hurt Zoe. She is still angry in general and might actually throw something at our sister’s head. At the least, she would probably refuse to attend Chloe’s wedding. What do I do here, other than remind my sister I have the texts?

—Burned

I can appreciate your motives for wanting to contain the fight, not least because you worry Zoe will blow up and cause everyone more problems. But I just don’t think this is sustainable in the long run, especially since Chloe’s already hinting that this is your fault and has demonstrated she’s comfortable behaving unreasonably. My worry is that if you try to keep things quiet, she’ll get her version of the story out first—and it’s likely to be a lie. Even if you don’t want to let Chloe’s possible future actions dictate what you do, there are other reasons to consider talking to at least Zoe. For example, are you prepared to attend Chloe’s wedding (assuming you’re still invited) under present conditions?

But before you consider whether to answer your relatives’ questions, I think it’s worth pushing Chloe to have one more conversation with you, even though she’s demonstrated pretty awful judgment thus far. “I love you, and I don’t want this to be what drives a wedge between us. It was important for Zoe to be able to get rid of something that represented her cheating ex. It wasn’t a statement about how hard your life has been, and I don’t think she owed it to you. If you’re willing to apologize and let this go, I am too. I really hope you want to, because I don’t want to fight about this anymore.” If she fails to course-correct, it may be necessary for you to talk to Zoe about it so she’s not put in the middle of you two. But break the news to her as gently as possible, without elaborating, and don’t show her the text messages unless you absolutely have to. Just because you have to tell her something difficult doesn’t mean you have to go for the most painful option.

* * *

Help! I Can’t Stop Snooping On My Former Job.

Danny M. Lavery is joined by attorney Jason Carini on this week’s episode of the Dear Prudence podcast.

Dear Prudence,

I’m a woman in my 30s who’s always struggled with sleep—it often takes me an hour or more to fall asleep. My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and he’s my first long-term relationship. When he first starting staying the night, I noticed I couldn’t sleep until he came to bed. We’ve been living together for a year now, and it’s still the case! I’ve tried going to bed earlier, going to bed later, taking melatonin, even taking CBD oil (it’s legal here), but nothing works. I think it’s awful to ask him to go sleep earlier just because I need the rest, but sometimes he’s up until 12:45 a.m. when I have an early meeting the next morning, and I’m a zombie on no sleep! Is it unreasonable to ask him to come to bed a little earlier (we’re talking midnight, not 10) on nights when I have important work to do the next day? Is there a third option I haven’t thought of?

—Counting Sheep

If you always woke up when your boyfriend came to bed or that the noise of hearing him move around in the kitchen or living room kept you up, I’d have a different answer for you, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. But asking him to come to bed 45 minutes sooner than he might otherwise the night before a big meeting is a reasonable request, provided you’re able to give him a heads-up a day or so in advance. Your sleep matters a great deal, and you have every right to prioritize it and find other strategies that help you get the hours you need. How did you fall asleep before you met your boyfriend? Melatonin and CBD oil may be fine, but they’re also slapdash over-the-counter remedies. It might be time to talk to your doctor and ask for a recommendation for a sleep specialist. It may take a bit more time and attention to figure out what other elements you need to fall and stay asleep—different medication, a body pillow, eye mask, earplugs, white noise machine, sleeping in separate rooms, all of the above, none of the above—but you’ll need more than just your boyfriend’s cooperation to really address this. After all, if you two broke up tomorrow, you’d still want to get a solid night’s sleep.

Dear Prudence,

I am a divorced mother of two kids, ages 7 and 5. I have been in a wonderful relationship with a widower for about four years now, living together for two. He has a lovely 11-year-old daughter. We have managed to blend our family pretty seamlessly. I am in a place where I am ready to get married again, but he still wants to wait. That’s a discussion for another day, though.

Here is my dilemma: I have been considering getting a small tattoo to honor my two kids (like a number 7 since both of their birthdays are 7’s, not initials or their names or anything). I’m curious if my boyfriend’s daughter will feel hurt or left out if the tattoo has nothing to do with her. How do I proceed here? Do I just not get the tattoo? Do I do what feels right to me, even if my boyfriend and his daughter might feel slighted?

—To Tat or Not

If you’re just talking about getting the number 7 tattooed on your body, I don’t think you should worry too much about your boyfriend’s daughter feeling slighted. It’d be one thing if you were proposing getting both of their names or full birth dates but not hers, but a single, small 7 (which is already pretty commonly associated with luck) doesn’t strike me as especially exclusionary or divisive. Go for it! Plus, with tattoos, most people can’t stop at one, so maybe at some point you’ll want to get something that represents your entire blended family. (Or maybe you’ll decide to hold off until you and your boyfriend have a more serious conversation about what long-term commitment looks like for you.) Tattoos are fun! Go for it.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

More Advice From Care and Feeding

My 8-year-old son is a very messy eater. Naturally, I blame myself for using baby-led weaning instead of spoon-feeding him baby food, because he still wants to eat everything with his hands. Yogurt, cereal, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese—he starts out with the utensil but eventually starts eating with his fingers. After every meal, I have to sweep under the table and wipe down the table and chair, which he had been touching with his disgusting hands. I thought this would all be over by now! He’s in third grade, and his other friends are not like this. I’m so tired of nagging him to sit over the plate or to stop eating with his hands or to use a napkin. I know he’s trying, but his mind is just elsewhere, not on the mundanity of eating thoughtfully. It also ruins my appetite. Any advice?