Ask Amy: In-law is riled over handicap parking permit

Dear Amy: I have been happily married for 39 years. The few “disagreements” we’ve had always seem to center around my husband’s family.

The latest has to do with my brother-in-law.

He has always had a very entitled attitude.

When my mother-in-law passed away in 2020, the car she recently bought was taken over by him. I was fine with that.

However, she also had a handicap parking permit that was issued to her by the state of New York due to her deteriorating health issues.

My husband’s brother has chosen to use that permit illegally for the past two years.

I have always suspected the fraud but didn’t want to accuse him and cause problems in the event that he had gotten his own permit.

This past week he left the area to visit another relative and his car was left in our driveway while he was away.

After checking the tag through the window, I confirmed that he has been illegally using my mother-in-law’s handicap permit tag. This left me furious.

Not knowing where the keys to the vehicle were, I asked my husband to please remove the permit from his brother’s vehicle since he shouldn’t be using it.

My husband refused, saying he didn’t feel he had the right to remove something from someone’s vehicle without their permission.

I felt my husband is enabling him to continue this abuse.

I am disappointed and have lost a lot of respect for my husband, who I love dearly, over this.

I’d appreciate your opinion as to whether I am overreacting in this matter.

— Annoyed!

Dear Annoyed!: I can understand why you are so annoyed by your brother-in-law’s choice to use his late-mother’s handicap permit, but I agree with your husband that it is not his place to remove it.

I do believe you are overreacting to this, but I assume that this episode is a placeholder for other in-law annoyances you’ve experienced over the years.

Furthermore, you are blaming the wrong person for this! Your husband is refusing to do something you have told him to do. He is standing up to you, and yes — you don’t like it, but he has the right to discern and make choices based on his own values; and in this case I happen to agree with him.

Now that your brother-in-law has left his car in your driveway for an extended period, you have a legitimate reason to tell him that you’re aware of this and that it bothers you.

In my opinion, he should be deeply embarrassed to be scamming off of a dead woman’s infirmities in this way, when doing so also denies others with legitimate needs the ability to use a parking spot reserved for them.

This is from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website: “The plates and permits may be used to park in reserved parking spaces only when the person with the disability rides in or drives the vehicle.”

Dear Amy: Several years ago, my husband joined an all-male book club. This has been a good experience for him, and I believe all the guys enjoy it.

Recently, my husband hosted the group in our home. I was in and out of the house during the meeting, not wanting to intrude.

Unfortunately, I overheard at least some of their discussion, and I was appalled!

These guys were being really sexist as they discussed the book (and other things).

I’m not sure how to respond to this, and now I’m really wondering how and why my husband continues to participate.

Your thoughts?

— Appalled Wife

Dear Appalled: Have you ever belonged to an all-woman book group — or been a guest at one?

I ask because, if you want to witness some rampaging wine-fueled sexism, pop into a group of women speaking without restraint.

My point is that this is a familiar dynamic in gendered groups.

You might ask your husband how he feels about the tone and tenor of his book club, but unless there is a specific aspect of his behavior that you find offensive — I suggest that you turn the page.

Dear Amy: On the topic of downsizing and returning decades-old letters to the person who originally wrote them [“Cleaning in Culver City”], I have a very simple solution: Ask first!

— Problem Solved

Dear Solved: This question has garnered a huge response. And, yes, when tempted to return old letters or photos to the subject, the solution is simple: Ask first!

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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