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The Wedding Gift, and
We Don't Hit People
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been dating a woman with 4 children for a little over a year. We have been invited to her sister's wedding. I thought we would go in together on a gift.
However, she informed me that she and two of her kids already bought
a gift. She says I have to get her sister a present by myself which at
least equals the cost of my meal at the wedding reception. I feel
excluded and wish she had consulted me first. What should I do?
Since you assumed something and no one yet has been able to read your mind, Iíd say you are on your own. Wedding gifts are not required, but it is the custom to bring one. Your beloved has made her expectations clear. Guy, is this the hill you want to die on? Buy the gift.
Dear Mrs Web
My wife has left me after nine years together and 5 years of marriage. We have two children under 5. She says she left because of our arguing. We argued and physically fought, at times. I never wanted to hurt her. I have been feeling jealous about her behavior. She has also been walking all over me and went out and bought a new car we canít afford, after I explained to her we couldnít afford it.
I am a full time student. I love my wife and family very much and I want her to come home. What should I do?
We donít hit our spouses, ever. I donít care what the reason. It is out of control behavior. My guess is that you have anger management issues and communication problems. I am sure your wife has her host of problems too. Neither one of you have to behave like preschoolers. You both have mouths need to learn how to communicate and work together as a married couple.
Can you get her back? I donít know. Many men I know who have seriously messed up their marriages have had have had success following the advice of the book If He Only Knew. Find it on my Bookshelf in the Marriage section. I recommend you buy and read it immediately.
Since you are in school, go down to the counseling office and get yourself first, and then your wife, into counseling. Anger management, communication issues, and marriage counseling are all in order.
Saying you are sorry and presenting your wife with a plan and commitment to change will begin the healing of this broken relationship. There is no sense trying to worm her back without commitment and action to change. Physical and emotional abuse hurts you, your wife, and your children. Think about how terrible it is for your little ones with both their parents out of control. It is time to act like grown-ups.
I Love My Best Friend
Dear Mrs. Web,
My mother died last spring. We took on Snickers, her parrot. He is a nasty, unpleasant thing, but my mother adored him. We have never liked the bird. We basically feed, water and keep it warm. My husband is wants me to find Snickers a new home. I feel so guilty.
Just because Snickers has a sentimental value doesn't mean you canít find it a nice home with someone who would appreciate his finer qualities. I am sure there is someone who will enjoy Snickers. Perhaps a shut-in who could spend time with him. And no, Dear Mrs. Web does not want a parrot.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I've known this woman for 10 years. We are best of friends. I've always been there through all her relationships to help with her problems. I have grown to love her.
We went on an extended vacation together and we became intimate. After the vacation, it was back to our regular friendship at her insistence.
Recently she became involved in a relationship with a roughneck. She is totally in love with this guy. I tried to end our friendship when she told me about him. She started crying and said she couldn't live without me being there for her and she needs me as a friend. So, I've tried to be strong and be there for her because I love her.
She tells me the intimate details of their lives. This kills me, but I put up with it, because I donít want to lose her. We talk every day, we have great conversations, and she visits me at least once a week. I am confused.
Your friend is doing an interesting piece of work here. She is emotionally involved with you. You are her "best friend," which prevents her from having a deep and lasting relationship with others. In addition, of course her involvement with others keeps you just where she wants you, meeting her needs but not getting ultimately close.
The "I love you as a friend" is an old adolescent romance game. Grownups make choices, commit to relationships, and marry. They open their bodies and emotions to ultimate intimacy with the one they love.
There is something very disturbing about the fact she violates the intimacy and privacy of her relationship with the man she is purportedly in love to give you an inside view. I find this lack of boundaries unusual and inappropriate.
The only way to change this sad situation is for you to take matters in hand and realize this is an either/or situation. In your shoes, I would sit her down and tell her what you want from her. It sounds like you want commitment, and forever. If she begins her, "you are my friend speech", tell her you will be her lover, fiancť, husband, and forever person, but you will bow out of being her "friend." She will either come running or disappear. If she does not commit, you will not have ultimately lost anything, for there wasnít much there. You were being used.
Moreover, you will end the years of emotional drain and find someone you can really love. There are many wonderful women out there looking for a man who will be friend, lover, and life-mate. Make sure you donít make a habit of choosing unavailable women.
Eliminating Television, and
She Isn't the Same Since the Baby
Dear Mrs. Web,
I would like to cut back or eliminate television from our family life. Any guidelines?
Our family eliminated broadcast and cable twelve years ago Ė best thing we ever did. We have our lives back. We have a video night once a week, two videos, one short, and one full feature.
I also add in educational tapes on occasion, you know: Identifying Schooners of the Maine Coast, Our Friend, Bacteria, or my personal favorite, The Fascinating World of Milk Processing.
Parents should present a united front. Have options available. They are not going to entertain themselves immediately. Bring out all the games you never play, or things family members have wanted to build or make. Read aloud or borrow book tapes from the library. Stack up on craft supplies, and good music the family can enjoy such as musicals. Music lessons work well here. Eliminating television means everyone goes to bed earlier and can add more time to the other end of their day.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I work both day and night shift, and when I get home, my girlfriend is sleeping. To me it seems that the closer she gets to the baby the further she gets from me. She complains that she is tired all the time and is always giving me the baby when he is unhappy and crying. How can we better our relationship, without taking away from the baby or my work schedule?
Babies are not cats with diapers Ė they take a lot of work. Your girlfriend is exhausted, normal for a new mother. She has a full time job at home with the baby, right now.
Your girlfriend is busy bonding with the baby. There is no bigger gift you can give to your child at this time, than a secure relationship with its mother. You will be more in the picture in a few months, but this is "momma time." Your role is to support your girlfriend, both financially and emotionally. Back rubs, bath salts, taking over for an evening so she can have a breakÖyou name it. Bringing home takeout (Dear Mrs Web and her family live on the menu of the local takeout pizza shop when we bring a new baby home), getting someone in to help her clean up all are things you can to help right now. Recognizing and admiring the big job she is doing is important too.
You are probably wondering when your romantic life will resume. Most likely when the baby is sleeping more, and the issues addressed above are resolved. Being particularly wonderful during this time helps. The more help she has the faster she will recover her desire. In the meantime, be cuddly, reassuring, and loving without pressure.
I know you didnít ask, but I am going to say it anyway, because I am Dear Mrs. Web. The most precious gift you can give your child is to be fully and forever committed to his or her mother. Marry her. Life and family are series of wonderful times, interspersed with trying times and difficulties. A firm commitment helps keep the unit intact. Sometimes you both will not like each other very much. All you will have to hang onto is the promise, and it is enough.
Left Out Neighbors, and
Disagreeing With Dear Mrs. Web, Oh My!!
Dear Ms. Web,
Our neighbors moved in 3 years ago. When they were building, we and a couple of the other neighborhood families let them use our homes as bases. We provided bathrooms, meals at times and advice.
We all liked the couple and we all socialized together in the neighborhood. They even were invited to all our childrenís birthday parties, although they didnít have children. Last year, they had their first child. She will be a year old this month and they are having a "family and family friend only" party.
None of the neighbors are invited. In fact, none of us have ever been invited to their house. Since they live right next door, we have felt funny about not inviting them to our get-togethers. Without making enemies, when do we stop inviting them and should we address it with them up front?
There is a saying, least said, soonest mind-set. In this case, I think it applies. I wouldnít say a thing to them. There is only one thing worse than bad manners, and that is correcting someoneís bad manners.
In your shoes, I would not put these neighbors on the mandatory guest list. I would leave them off the lists for most parties but invite them to an occasional "everybody over" celebration. In my book, it is worth a couple of extra burgers on the grill to keep relationships cordial, if not warm, between neighbors.
Many people, sadly enough, are not aware of the duty to reciprocate invitations. Or they feel their lives are too busy. I would chalk it up to clueless-ness or poor upbringing.
That said, I would add that some people are "users." The best way to handle a "user" is to realize what they are doing and to not take it personally. That wastes your emotional energy. After a while, their behavior will seem funny. Trust me.
Dear Mrs. Web,
This is in response to the advice you gave to the young man in college who wrote in about his pregnant girlfriend. I really disagree with you and think you are making the coupleís decisions for them.
If they want to continue the pregnancy, which they donít have to, they still donít have to keep the baby. I cannot believe you suggested marriage. You do realize that people have sex without marriage these days, donít you? Marriage "just for the sake of an unborn child" is not the smartest thing you could suggest
Marriage it hard enough even under the most ideal circumstances when both people are ready and prepared to commit their lives to one another let alone throwing a baby into the mix. These two people may not be ready to take on the responsibility of matrimony AND are compromising their own career goals. I beg you to THINK about what you are saying before doling out your advice!!
I certainly appreciate your spirited letter. I like people with opinion and backbone. I assure you I do think about what I am saying before I write my advice.
I am afraid I do disagree with a number of points you raise. I am not making decisions for this couple. This is an advice column where people ask for and receive my opinion on a variety of subjects. I provide a different perspective, in this case, than what is commonly received wisdom. Whether they follow my opinion is, quite frankly, up to them.
My opinion on this subject is that a baby is worth two people changing the direction of their lives. I assure you I do realize that people have sex without the benefit of marriage. I have mopped up the problems from many of those situations. I understand, and at one time subscribed to your viewpoint. Now, frankly, I find it a tiresome 70ís throwback, which has been the conventional wisdom of the early 90ís. I do not choose to support it any more.
People are usually flexible and able to meet the changing circumstances of their lives. It is a sign of mental health, in my opinion. Marriage is not a fragile entity, but instead is an elastic and durable state, able to help a couple meet life's challenges as well as joys. The circumstances may not be your ideal, but it is certainly may be their choice. True tolerance is an ability to accept diversity in opinions, values, and choices, not just that which is spoon-fed to television viewers.
I Love Her! Carefree Sailor, and
I Don't Trust Her
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am dating a woman I love and wish to marry her. She is mean to others and me. Everyone I know says I should leave her and find another. I love her and believe she will become kinder (as she can be at times) in the future. I think my love will help her. What do you think?
In my experience, peopleís personalities are well established by adulthood. I want you to understand something. How she is behaving with you now is the best behavior you can expect from her. People donít become nicer after they are married. They often get worse.
Love does not fix personality problems. Love is a two-way commitment between a man a woman. You are trying to use it as a bandage on her personality which belongs to her and you cannot fix. Now, if you want to live a miserable life with a difficult, selfish woman, well, I canít talk you out of it. I recommend, however, you marry for happiness, kindness, joy, peace, and reciprocated love.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My daughter is in the Navy and had a child out of wedlock. Her mother and I end up caring for our grandchild at least two weeks each month when she is out to sea
Next year, we'll have to provide care for at least 6 months while she's on deployment. Our problem she is supposed to provide half the daycare cost (we both work). She hasn't given us any money for three months, but she has money for everything else, including her live-in boyfriend. We feel stuck. We love our grandchild, but we don't know how to get our daughter to live up to her agreement. What should we do?
I think you need to sit down with her and work out a financial plan, either through payroll deductions or monthly bank drafts from her account to cover costs. If your daughter does not cooperate or ignores her commitments, you both will have a decision to make. Will you be footing the bill for your grandchild? Or will you toss the responsibility back into your daughterís lap?
If your daughter becomes angry with you for holding her accountable, you may end up losing access to your grandchild. You will have to evaluate the relationship; I cannot do it from here. It sounds like your daughter has other priorities besides her child or parents. How sad.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My wife and I have had some serious problems. She took over her family's business about 10 years ago. She has been running the business into the ground, forcing me to bail her out, four times so far. The infuriating thing is that she wonít tell me when there are problems. I find out in dramatic ways such as foreclosure notices, IRS visits, or employees calling.
So I blow up, rake her over the coals and step in a fix the problem. I have managed it back into being a moneymaking proposition. I have developed great difficulty in believing anything she tells me, and this is destructive in our marriage. I micromanage the financial aspects of her business, oversee the personnel aspects, and I think probably the most injurious, constantly nag her with questions
I love my wife and kids, and I don't want our marriage to be what it now is. She appears to be holding up her end of things. I keep mistrusting her, making foolish accusations about small issues, and generally not making things any easier for her. At a certain level, I've become a person I don't really care to be around. How can I get out of the hole I find myself in? .
My gut reaction is to get rid of the business. It is forcing your wife to do something she is not able to do well. No business is worth your marriage. This is time to find a business broker and move it out of your lives.
I would begin marriage counseling, with or without her. It would be marriage saving for the both of you to hash out this very sad prison you have both locked into. Your wife behavior makes me think she is very sad and angry. I would find a counselor who is committed to put marriages back together. You need to detach, in some ways, from your wife and reattach in other, more positive ways.
My husband found a book extremely helpful called If He Only Knew. It helps men find ways to reattach to and re-love their wives. It is at my bookshelf, read my mini-review and click through to Amazon for a more thorough reviewing. Many men I know have benefited from it.
Pregnant, Crude Music, and
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am home on Christmas break. I am a junior at a large, well-known eastern university. My girlfriend, who I have been seeing for the past two years also attends and is a sophomore. She just called me (Our families live several states apart.). She is pregnant. We donít know what to do. I was planning on law school, she has want to get her masterís in computer science. What do you think?
I think you are a father. Your girlfriend is now a mother. The best way to make that combination work is by becoming husband and wife. Since both families are footing your education, I suggest that you tell your parents the news and plan for both families to get together right after the holidays. A small wedding, right after the first of the year, would insure you both enough time to get back to campus and find married housing.
You wonít be the first man to go to law school with a wife and family. Your wife wonít be the first woman to put her career on hold until the children get older.
Undertaking this new responsibility with courage, gallantry, and grace, is the definition of good character. Best wishes and keep in touch.
A related book on this topic written by one of my favorite authors, Maggie Gallagher is The Case for Marriage on my Bookshelf.
Dear Mrs. Web,
Our babysitter is fourteen. She is seems bright enough and appears to enjoy the children. She is from a good family here in town. The children like her. Unfortunately, I have found out that when she baby-sits she brings her own music. She listens to a lot of rather nihilistic, crude music. Our children are picking up some undesirable things from it. Do think I am unreasonable to forbid her from bringing the music into the house. I hate to censor her.
Unreasonable Ė no. You would be shirking your responsibility as a parent if you didnít address this issue. You are making choices about what you will and wonít permit in your home. These are choices you make everyday as a consumer.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I really need some advice. I found a letter to my husband from a woman on my bedroom floor. It was filled with innuendo, and a crudely worded sexual proposition.
I asked my husband about it and he blew me off and said it was nothing. So I called the telephone number in the note and asked the woman what this was about. She said they were just friends and she shouldnít have given him that note. I donít believe either one of them. What should I do?
It sounds like you might have a problem in your marriage. However, trust is an issue here and it appears to have been breached.
If I were in your shoes, I would take the letter and your husband to a marriage counselor Ė just as soon as I could get an appointment. I think this needs to be talked about with a trained person.
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