Dear Amy: Two years ago, our neighbor was going to remodel his house in a way that would negatively impact us, so we asked him over for a chat.
My husband began an argument with him and was inappropriate. During the conversation, I was apologizing (a lot) and trying to get him to stop. He eventually did and apologized to the owner, who left our house very angry.
This neighbor went on to tell anyone who would listen that we threatened him and his family and that we were dangerous. We did not threaten him, and we are definitely not dangerous.
I reached out to a mediator in hopes of mending fences, but they wouldn't attend.
In the two years since that episode, I've been subjected to sneers, head-shaking, dirty looks (by his friends) and nasty comments. This treatment is unwarranted.
I have sent the neighbor a few texts during this period regarding general neighborhood issues and he is civil, but only via text; when we run into each other on walks, the whole family won't look at us.
I stand by my husband (he did apologize), but I am not him — I did not "DO" anything to this family. I have always been kind to them.
Should I gently confront him about this — or move?
Amy says: A quick apology in the moment may halt the immediate episode, but this event isn't over just because your husband says it's over.
He should have done everything in his power to apologize appropriately, including in the moment, and also afterward when he'd had a chance to reflect on his behavior.
If he has sincerely done his best to acknowledge and apologize, and if his behavior has been totally benign, then yes, the neighbors should make an effort to recover and move on.
They should not punish you for your husband's behavior, but you say the neighbor responds well to your texts. When you are out walking (presumably with your husband), you should assume that their body language is directed toward him.
They aren't the only ones who need to move on. For YOU to be entirely over it would be for you to demonstrate that you behave the same way toward everyone, and that you are basically unaffected by people who don't respond in an optimal way toward you.
Can't mute neighbors
Dear Amy: Due to the pandemic, I am working from home full time. My neighbor's son and granddaughter have moved in with her. They spend a lot of time in their yard, which is directly adjacent to my kitchen table (the only place in my apartment I can work).
Their play seems mostly to involve chasing games and screaming. Hours of my day are filled with a background of a grown man and a little girl screaming. This would be difficult enough, but I have frequent conference calls when I have to speak and cannot be on mute.
People have said they cannot hear me over the screaming (this is with my doors and windows shut).
How can I ask them to keep the noise down during work hours, or perhaps encourage the child not to scream? I don't want to offend anyone, but I have to work!
Amy says: Contact your neighbors. Mention how adorable the 3-year-old is. Say, "I have to work from home right now, and so I'm wondering if you could try extra-hard to keep things quieter during work hours. I'll tape a red piece of paper in the window during my conference calls, so at least you'll know the times I'm on the phone." A visual cue might prompt both parent and child to turn their volume down.
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