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June 11, 2001

 

Men, Men, Everywhere...,

They Won't Grandparent My Daughter!

 

Dear Mrs Web,

I have a problem. There are two nice guys at work who want to date me. I like them both and want to date them. If I say yes to one, I might lose the other. What should I do?

There are times in life you must make a choice. You need to choose one of the men if you want to become involved. You could, of course, casually date them both.  Better yet, you could spend more time getting to know both of them before choosing one as the better fit for your life, which, of course, would be a principle of courtship.

I have found that men often do not view casual dating as women do, and you may find yourself able to date them both. Men are competitive though, and your honor may end up being the goal, so be careful.

 


 

Dear Mrs Web,

Am I nuts? I met and began seeing my husband when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child. We eventually married and now have a child together. He has been a wonderful and accepting father to both the girls.

My husbandís family has never accepted my first child into their family. They refuse to permit her to call them grandma and grandpa. When introducing the children they make sure everyone knows which child is their grand child and introduce my oldest daughter as their son's wife's child. My husband continues to insist both children call his mother Grandma.

I don't think they like me. . They are never rude, just cool. I just want my daughters to have a warm relationship with them.

My oldest daughter's biological father's family has become involved in her life. They are wonderful people who treat both girls the same. They even take the baby with them when they take the older one on outings.

My husband thinks I am overreacting to their slights and won't confront his parents about this  Am I crazy?   What can I do?

You are not nuts. However, you are expecting too much. You have married into a family of distant, un-giving, cool people. You are expecting them to behave otherwise.  The other side of this issue is that many people disapprove of sex and childbirth before marriage and consider it evidence of poor or undisciplined moral character.

Your first daughter is not their grandchild and they have made it abundantly clear that they do not have the wherewithal to open their hearts to her. Therefore, you and your husband need to stop insisting that she call them "Grandma." Instead, ask them what they would like your daughter to call them. Donít be surprised if it is more formal than you would expect. I have a relative who was told to call his stepfatherís mother Mrs. --------. They lived in the same house together for eighteen years.

Your oldest daughterís biological grandparents realize that your youngest daughter is their little grandchildís half-sister and honor the connection. Many people donít bother. 

You think your in-laws donít like you, you are probably right. Therefore, you need to be just as polite as you can and learn not to expect much from them. You will drive yourself insane thinking that they should sign cards more warmly, or remember your birthday. Get away from the "should haves." They are useless at best.

Your husband is not going to change a thing because, to him, there really isnít a problem. His parents are acting as usual.

Take a deep breath and realize that you have a loving husband, two beautiful children, a mother and bio grandmother, both who dote on your children. You also have polite in-laws. This is more than most people have in their lives.

 

June 8, 2001

 

I Can't Trust Him, 

Waiting for Him, 

and 

They REALLY Don't Like Me!!

 

 

Dear Mrs. Web,

I have been involved with a man for 6 years. We have been through a lot together and I love him dearly. During the first year of our relationship, he fathered a child from a previous relationship. We worked through this issue together.

Two years later, the same young woman became pregnant again, however the child was stillborn. Recently this woman gave birth to a third child, fathered by the man I love. He claims to love me and wants to make plans to get married. I love him, but somehow I just can't trust him anymore. My family wants me to end my relationship with him. I canít seem to let him go. What should I do?

Dear Mrs. Web wants to make sure she understands you. You are saying you have been involved with a man for six years who has fathered three children with another woman? Moreover, you are finding yourself unable to trust him? Meanwhile he is encouraging you to commit fully and marry him?

Exactly how many more children does he have to father outside your relationship before you understand that this man is involved elsewhere with a woman and his two small children? In addition, you must comprehend that he has commitments and responsibilities there which actually supersede his relationship with you?

I wouldnít trust him as far as I could throw him. Walk away from this, he isnít going to change.  Face it, if he isnít fully committed to you now, when he is on his best behavior and trying to convince you of a future together, what makes you think he will be able to keep it zipped in the daily humdrum of marriage?

Take a good long read through my Relationship and Dating Archives (the link is found on my Archives page) for some ideas on how to help yourself through this.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web,

I have known a wonderful, sincere man now for two years. We met through mutual friends.  The first year, we lived in different states and communicated via e-mail and through the phone. After meeting, we communicated 3-4 times a week, with daily e-mails. Eventually, we started to visit with each other. After the year had passed, I moved to his hometown. I also have friends and a job here.

Neither one of us has had any sort of long-term relationship. I have been here and we have been dating a year now. We are both in our early thirties; both want a family soon and attend church every Sunday together. We are both 32 years old and hope to have a family by age 35. He just hasnít found the ability to tell me he loves me and commit to marriage.

He has said that he sees us together in the future, and so do I. I have been completely honest with my feelings and have put my emotions and my future on the line with him. So, do I continue to wait?

You have slowly and wisely positioned yourself for marriage with this man. I admire your how you slowly moved towards him.  However, it is time to get on with it.  After a year of courtship, it is time for betrothal and a wedding date.

I think you will have to be very clear with him that if the relationship has a future, the future is now. Tell him you love him but you need a future. If he is unable to come through, move on. Some men will string along two, five, ten, fifteen years in a relationship without commitment. It is easier for them not to change things.

Check my Topics To Discuss Before Marriage to help you deepen your relationship.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web,

My future in-laws hate me.  My fiancť and I are getting married in 3 weeks and parts of the family refuse to attend the wedding.

Yesterday, I received a message from my belovedís mother. She said that she is telling everyone that I am taking him away from his family and when I walk down the aisle, everyone will know it.

She does not speak my name but only uses crude terms when addressing or discussing me. This is a nightmare. I am a basket case. All I want is to have a peaceful wedding and be treated with respect.

You say you want to be treated with respect; do you actually and honestly think this will happen with people who dislike you this much? You both are walking into a family nightmare. In your shoes I would postpone things and discuss this deeply with my beloved. Being "in love" lasts a while, but eventually life intervenes. These family members will be part of your life forever, for better or for worse, and boy, does it sound like worse.

 

 

June 7, 2001

 

Revenge, and 

She Wants a Divorce

 

 

Dear Mrs. Web,

My little brother got into trouble at school last week. He is in the 8th grade. He left the premises  with two friends at lunchtime and brought a pizza back to the school cafeteria. He and one of the other kids finished the pizza and left the other guy sitting there with it in the box.   The teacher on duty found the boy and the empty box.  He ratted on my brother and his other friend. They all got into trouble.

My brother thinks this guy should not have ratted, but instead, taken it on the chin. He wants me to think of a non-violent but nasty way to pay the kid back. I am reluctant to help him since I am almost 17 and the kid here is only 14. This is small change. At the same time, I can see my brotherís point. What should I do?

Your brother was caught and had to do the time. He is blaming the other kid who didnít have the ability or courage to take the hit himself. Not many people do, especially at 14. We all screw up at times. That is why we have grace.

So, why put all this obsessive animosity on some incompetent kid. Truly cool people would now know what this kid is able (and not able) to do and avoid him.

You are correct sir, this is a kid game, and you are too old for it.  Tell him to have his pizza delivered next time.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web,

My wife has told me that she wants a divorce. We have 3 children. I made a serious mistake in our marriage and have asked for forgiveness, but she is unwilling to work with me. Instead, she told me that she needs her space.

At first, we were going to separate for just 6 months, but now she wants a divorce. I have told her I am committed to her and want to continue the relationship. She told me she is lonely and that the spark has left our relationship. She is now working with many divorced women and says she discovered there is a life out there besides our marriage. She refuses to go to a marriage counselor. 

Dear Mrs. Web she is the best thing that has happened to me and I would do anything to keep our marriage together. Please help me.


Your wife is really angry with you and is getting the support of the women around her to dump you. I donít know what you did to hurt her, but she is certainly exacting her pound of flesh from you.

Unfortunately, she is also hurting the children badly. A marriage with three children isnít something that is thrown over because Mom and Dad have been silly and have hurt each other. It is time for substantial negotiation, to get your wife into marital counseling, or family counseling. The kind of negotiations that would require 10 months to a year of intensive family counseling for the sake of the children.

There are books on my website that might help you:

If Only He Knew

(click through to buy)

The best book I have found addressed to men, about the needs and emotions of women in marriage. The first chapter is "How to Drive Your Wife Away Without Even Trying" is worth the price of the book.

Love is a Decision

(click through to buy)

A terrific and well-thought out book about the foundations of love and commitment. A great resource for couples who come to the point where they are no longer "in love" and need to learn how to "love" for better and worse.

Love Must Be Tough

(click through to buy)

The finest book I have ever come across addressing the issues of recovering dignity and grace when wronged or divorced. Teaches the recovery and repositioning of boundaries in changed relationships.

I would certainly approach your wife about trying for the sake of the children. She is so angry with you that she doesnít really care about you, but I imagine she loves her children. There is a lot of new research on the terrible effects of divorce on children. Check my bookshelf for more information.

 

June 6, 2001

 

How Do I Live It Down?  

The (Much) Younger Woman, and Wedding Objections

 

 

Dear Mrs. Web,,

I was a chaperone to our local high school's prom. While there, I had a little too much to drink and I'm worried that I embarrassed myself and ruined my reputation.  How do I face the students and staff on Monday?

I didnít know people imbibed in alcoholic beverages at proms anymore. I really need to start getting out more! I thought the Project Graduation had cut that issue out. Between January and May I think I handled at least a half-dozen requests for donations.

If you work at the school, you may face some sort of sanctions. I would be contrite, embarrassed and admit my mistake if confronted. The kinds of sentences that come to mind are, "Yes, I had too much to drink, it was an embarrassing mistake. Iím sorry." Or " Well, I certainly showed you how NOT to handle alcohol."

Reputations ruin easily. With hard work and blameless living, you will live this mistake down. If you live in a small town, however, it will be forgiven but never forgotten.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web,

I'm a 33-year-old guy and I've developed a crush on a 19-year-old girl. Is this really stupid? Should I even think of moving this beyond a one-sided crush? I donít think I'm having a leering obsession, in fact, I sort of find it creepy.

Am I overly concerned or should I keep my distance with her and just remain friends? I am very concerned about the age difference.


Well, itís not as stupid as hitting yourself on the head repeatedly with a hammer.

I have known several marriages between young girls and adult men. Not one of the relationships survived more than a few years. The age difference was a big factor.

Think of how you were at 19. Are you different now? Goodness, I hope so!  My rule of thumb is to build lifetime relationships with someone no more than 5 years younger or older than you are. This rule has very flexible boundaries, but your love interest bursts right through them and goes straight to kindergarten. 

There are plenty of young women in their twenties and thirties who are interested in a relationship with a wonderful man. I know, they all write me.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web, 

My 23 year-old daughter recently became engaged to a wonderful young man and my husband and I are very happy for her and like him immensely.

My mother-in-law, a Holocaust survivor doesn't want her to marry him because he is of a different religion from us. Although we understand her objections, we feel it isnít really her decision to make. 

She has taken this engagement as a personal insult. She has become depressed because of what "we are doing her," and she also claims we are "killing her." She refuses to come to the engagement party, and is not sure whether she will come to the wedding.

I am losing my patience with her childishness. She has been making insulting and silly comments about my daughter and said I should have better control of my daughter. I feel my daughter is an adult and is capable of making her own decisions. How do I cope with this difficult woman?

Some religious people think that to marry outside their faith is an abomination to God and an insult to the family. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

In your shoes, I would respect her right to hold her opinion, but I would not permit her to abuse you with it. Tell her you know her opinion, and understand she is upset.

She can choose to participate or not in the marriageís various celebrations and services. It is her decision. Detach yourself; let her go through what she needs to do. Be pleasant (There is a special place in heaven for women with difficult mothers in-law!!). 

Tell her you are sorry she cannot attend, and change the subject. If she complains about the topic, tell her you know she is upset about it, the decisions have been made, it is out of her handÖand change the subject. Politely leave if she becomes difficultÖ"Oh, I need to go pick out butter dish patternsÖ"

By the way, congratulations, Mother of the Bride!

 

 

June 5, 2001

 

Does She Like Me?  and Pornography

 

 

Dear Mrs. Web,

I like this girl and I don't know if she likes me. Plus, I can't really ask her because I'm too embarrassed

Spend some time with her. If she pays attention to you, seems interested in you, and maybe even sneaks a few peeks at you, she probably likes you. The older you get the more complicated this issue becomes.

 


 

Dear Mrs. Web,

I have been married 5 years and we have a 6 month old baby and I just found out I am again pregnant. My problem is that my husband looks at porn on the net all the time. Sometimes he will be up until 3 or 4 in the morning. I have told him that I think there is something wrong with our marriage if he needs to do this. I am afraid he will have an affair.

His porn buddies send him pictures and videos of women and even teens. When I think of him looking at these pictures all the time, I don't want to be near him. I avoid him and it makes me sick at heart.

My husband has a 12-year-old son who spends time with my husbandís father. The grandfather sits at home and watches porn with the boy. My husband thinks this is normal. I want to continue my marriage, but I do not want my children exposed to this behavior. I think it is disrespectful to our marriage.  What should I do?

You are right; it is disrespectful and you need to protect your children from your husbandís behaviors.  In my opinion, people who are pornography users are less able to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate sex.  They are continuously titillated and not thinking clearly.

Internet porn "addictions" are pervasive these days.

The Internet is a fascinating medium and computers, games and chat rooms as well as on-line relationships are easy real-life substitutes for some people. Itís TV only better. There is a sexual tolerance now in our culture, that thumbs its nose at any sort of reticence or modesty. Children, adults, and families are not spared from sexual images and discussions that would have been locked behind closed doors ten years ago

There seems to be amnesia in our culture today. People snigger at decades and century-old laws against public lewdness, the past censorship in the media and the former general unavailability of pornography.  People are expected to ignore or enjoy the deluge of suggestive images that flood our lives; however; it is not expected to affect them.  I consider this one huge overestimation of human nature.

I see no one asking why these laws were created. Somehow, today, we seem to think our forefathers and mothers wereÖwellÖstupid, provincial, uneducated, and unable to think deeply.   That we today are somehow better, and more enlightened.  We believe censorship laws and blue laws were thoughtlessly and automatically enacted out of religious lockstep or to eliminate "fun."

But none of this is true. Laws eliminating lewdness from general availability were developed by people who saw what happened to individuals with unrestricted access to ways of satisfying their appetites.  They learned that the appetites grow larger and more difficult to satisfy, and that families suffer. Children are used as sexual toys.  Women become mere interchangeable urge gratification spittoons.  

There is an old wisdom recognizes that images, as well as extramarital liaisons, come between  a married couple. In the end these initially exciting visuals do not enhance the marital bed, but instead diminish it.  It makes us no longer the beloved, but instead, the used.

Teenagers can become obsessed with sexual satisfaction and lose other interests and plans.  The populationís appetites become the primary judges of what is good in the culture.  Oh, we cloak our interests with a sort of false snobbism.  The soft porn of Brittany Spears is ... well... let's face it, a laughing stock, but we all still laugh and look.

The only places I see families and children spared our cultural sexual appetites today is within some religious congregations and among the upper middle class. Both places judge and eliminate public sexuality and lewdness in their lives, one because it is against the core organizing beliefs of the group and the other because it gets in the way of being on the track to cultural success.  That's right, it gets in the way.  It takes too much energy, better spent in building businesses. becoming educated, or focusing on the community and world.

Most men who are involved in Internet pornography find it a more compelling attraction than a live, willing, loving woman does. They much rather have solitary sex with the images on their screen. These men are in a place where fantasy is real and they have little use for the messiness of real people and relationships. They are lost in cyberspace.

I would contact the Center for On-line Addictions.   I would also find a recommended addictions and pornography counselor. Ask around. A minister of your faith may have this information available. Counseling offices and minister waiting rooms are bulging these days with on-line "addicts" and Internet pornography users and the marriages that are ruined by them. Get some local help; visit the Internet addiction sites. Protect your little ones.  I wish you the best; I am sorry. It is a difficult situation.

 

 

 

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