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Saying No, Family Problems, Not Changing Her Name
Dear Mrs. Web,
What do I say to a nice man who keeps calling to ask me out? I donít want to go out with him. I keep making excuses.
Try "I am really flattered that you asked me, but I am afraid I wonít be going out with you. It doesnít work for me. Goodbye."
Dear Mrs. Web,
My future daughter-in-law has just informed our family that she will
not change her last name after the vows are exchanged. This is news to
all of us and I am quite troubled by all this. My son is the last male
to carry on the name. My other two children are females.
There are few things less your business than what name your daughter-in-law carries after the wedding. This is a personal decision. You will alienate her, and possibly your son, by announcing your opinion or trying to change their minds. In family life, there are times to bite your tongue Ė this is one.
This woman is becoming your daughter-by-marriage, and possibly mother to future grandchildren. Donít get off to a poor start. It will influence how you relate to your son and his family for many years. Be respectful. Choices have been made.
Your future grandchildren do not have to carry her name only. Many couples who keep their own premarital names use the motherís name as a middle name and the husbandís name as the childís last name. In addition, your daughters can, if they like, use their maiden names as their childrenís last names. Naming children is much more flexible than people realize.
Dear Mrs Web,
I had a miscarriage a few months back. My boyfriendís mother has never expressed any sympathy to me. When she found out I was pregnant she said some nasty things to my boyfriend. I'm a good person and I have never done anything to her. She wonít even talk about us to others. Someday we will be married and I have no idea how to deal with her.
As sad as the loss of your child is, many people feel that unmarried, pregnant sons and daughters are a humiliation for their family. Childbearing and rearing is reserved for the commitment of marriage. Unwed parenthood mostly indicates an inability to control oneís impulses and/or a poor upbringing, despite what the media tells you.
You say your boyfriendís mother is not sorry. Quite the contrary, I am sure she is very sorry. Sorry she raised such a thoughtless, irresponsible son, and sorry that her grandchild would have been raised, at risk, in unwed mother poverty. No one wants this for any member of the family.
You have nothing with this young man, no commitment, no engagement, no marriage, nothing. You both grievously hurt this woman by your thoughtless behaviors. She said some terrible things about you, and you did some terrible things to her. If you want to begin again, with a better relationship, realize and take responsibility for the pain you have caused, and ask forgiveness.
Son Needs Help, I Hate My Life, and Where Are the Nice Men?
Dear Mrs. Web,
We have just come back from a family counseling session. Our youngest boy has been having problems getting beat up and harassed in school. Today the counselor suggested that we move to another school district or send him to private school and give him a fresh start. He is our only child at home. We cannot afford any private school. We really donít want to move. What do you think?
Families need to pull together when one is floundering. Your son is being tortured in his present school. He needs to break out of there and have a new beginning somewhere else. There are times parents have to go the extra mile Ė this is one. Your son will always remember you helped save and redirect him during this difficult time.
Moving or renting in another district is an option. Home schooling is another. Good luck.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have a stressful job that I hate. I have a chronic illness Disability is out of the question because I don't qualify. Although I am working, we still cannot pay the bills. My husband drinks beer, smokes, and gambles. Not a lot but more than we can afford. We are in debt. All credit cards are maxed out. I am going into a depression. I get a sick feeling the pit of my stomach, everyday that I have to go to work.
Please donít tell me to see a counselor, I know them all in town through my work. We even socialize together. It would not work
You need to find a less stressful job, even at less pay. Get out of your field if needed but change your work environment. It is a good market out there and a good time to make a change.
You and your husband need to get on a budget. You both will need to go on allowances and clear up your debts. You are going to have to sort some of these things out with a professional. I recommend a marriage and family counselor. So you know the therapists in your area. It happens all the time in small, isolated, communities and in professional communities. It is a major reason there are confidentiality rules in counseling and therapy.
When your options are limited - go with the best choice within the limitations. Otherwise you spend emotional energy wishing things were different.
Dear Mrs Web,
I am now 26 and am single. I am an attractive, heavy woman. I have a great personality and would be a great catch for any man but all I date are real losers. I have only dated two guys steadily. Both were terrible. All my friends are married and I don't have anyone single to go out with. I just can't understand why no man seems to be interested in me.
I sometimes think it is only my weight that keeps them away. What am I doing wrong?
It sounds like you want to meet and have a future with a nice man. Your weight may be a factor in initially meeting someone (in our culture thin people are seen as more visually attractive) but personality and character are more important in the end. Your two past relationships tell me that you donít have a problem attracting men.
I wonder about the only kinds of men who want to date you being losers. Why? Why long-term relationships with losers? What is it about you that these men liked? What is it about them you liked? Take a good look at your past relationships and what you would want to change about them. They may hold the key to your dates with duds.
Think this through a bit. Make up a list of the kinds of qualities you find important in a man and what you want to do about him once he is in your life. These are important questions.
October 25, 2000
My Husband...the Rat! Where are the Women? and They Treat Me Meanly
Dear Ms. Web,
I feel he has no morals and can be easily bought out. It seems dishonest. I feel like he has no integrity and feel terrible about this. It is eating into our relationship.
He is breaking a boundary about something you feel deeply about. This happens. Do you have more integrity than he does? On this issue, yes.
Although one should care about the opinions of others, it doesnít have to be the overriding factor in many situations. Your husband has been marching to his own drum for a number of years in your town. I am sure the community is used to him. You seem to want to control his behavior. He is separate from you and is making his own choices.
No one plays a perfect game all the time; in fact, perfect games are boring. Your husband has some faults, we all do. Part of being a loving spouse is to smile and shrug at these times. It is the way we extend them grace.
Dear Mrs. Web,
There are no women available to date in my work setting. My career is demanding. How am I going to meet women?
The way to meet people is to make room in your life for interests and organizations that are meaningful to you. Find things to do that reflect your values and beliefs. My sense is that you have some high standards. Examine them and make sure they arenít unobtainably high.
If you have a faith, go to church, temple, or mosque. Shop around and become involved in a volunteer organization in your community that reflects your values and has a lot of community participation. Sports, hobbies, classes, and politics, are just a few areas with lots of women. Let people know you are looking. Donít get lost in solitary pursuits.
Look at the way you present yourself to the world. What do your clothes, grooming and manners say to others. What is your attitude towards others, are you surly? Snide? Sarcastic? Unpleasant? Edgy? Painfully shy? Uncommunicative? Warm? Compassionate? Friendly? Interested? Fun?
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am 24, and work at with my mother-in-law, our supervisor, and the supervisorís daughter. These people treat me without respect. I have a young appearance and I tend to be giving. They take advantage of it.
I am treated like an idiot or a servant. I am not even included in the conversations. My mother-in-law is usually kind but will, at times, be sucked into belittling me with them. They even call me "little girl". How do I stand up for myself?
Look at what you do, how you behave and dress, and hold yourself. What are you doing to give people the message that you are a lightweight? Do you act like a giggly little girl? Also, there is a difference between a generous nature and a doormat. Example: a generous person opens her wallet to give someone a specific amount of money she chooses. A doormat has her wallet taken away, emptied, and thrown back at her.
Stop being a doormat and set the boundaries. You define how people treat you. You will need to speak to each of these people privately. Take responsibility for your part. Have examples of your behavior and their responses in case they ask. Enlist your mother in law, she is a natural ally, to help you grow more mature and dignified.
They will not immediately stop. You will have to continually, kindly, and clearly point out breeches of your boundaries and correct them. Donít let things slide or you will be back where you started. With time, and as you acquire more adult characteristics, you will find yourself being accepted as grown up. Growing backbone requires courage and grace. You get it one link at a time as you determine your life.
My Son's Room, Should I Play Without Him? and ...Cake and Eat It, Too
Dear Mrs. Web,
My thirteen-year-old son has his own room. He has a number of graphic nude women posters in his room including one of his girlfriend. I donít like having them in the house but I donít know whether I should say anything. It is his room. What should I do?
Actually, it isnít his room. You are paying the mortgage, heat, lights, electricity, water, taxes, and insurance bills. Legally you have to provide him with three hots and a cot, adequate clothing and access to medical care. Everything else is a privilege.
If your thirteen-year-old son has something in his room you find morally compromising, it goes. You are his parent, and you are to provide him with moral guidance. One very important aspect of this guidance is a firm stand on what you will and wonít accept. No compromising, no negotiating, and no screaming, but instead, kind but firm rules. Now, write me a letter about that naked girlfriend?!!
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have asked my boyfriend to take me out golfing this summer and we have yet to get out. I am aware that he has golfed a couple of times with his friends this summer. Now that it is the end of summer, how appropriate would it be take ask one of my girlfriends if she would like to play golf? If ok, would it be appropriate to say I'm golfing with so and so on Saturday morning?
Yes, you should go golfing with a friend if you like. Even spouses pursue interests separately. I cannot think of one reason to keep this information from your boyfriend. He probably doesnít even remember your request to golf together.
Dear Mrs Web
I want to tell my boyfriend that I want to date other people but I don't want to end the relationship completely. I am afraid things won't work and I will have no one. I don't know what to do.
I do not think that dating demands an exclusive relationship. Only betrothal, engagement, and marriage require fidelity and exclusiveness.
You seem to want to continue with the safety of an exclusive relationship but without the constraintsÖoften known as "trying to have oneís cake and eat it, too".
If there has been an understanding of fidelity in your current relationship, although it lacks commitment, your current boyfriend certainly may end the relationship if you stray. On the other hand, without commitment for the future, what good is being exclusive?
What concerns me more is why are you flitting from one to another? You donít seem to have a plan for your future in mind. Without a plan you just will get involved willy-nilly and bring nothing to your future. An enormous amount of time and energy goes into new relationships. Make sure it counts.
He Left Her, She Left Us Again, and She Won't Let Me Leave!
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have been a friend to a lady who had been rejected by her husband, an abusive alcoholic. They separated 4 years ago. They have three children.
Her husband has made little to no attempt
to reconcile the relationship and is not divorcing her because of the
court costs. I have heard stories of spouses re-establishing broken
marriages. After all this time, I wonder whether it will occur.
I feel trapped because I have warm feelings for her and would like to be part of her life. I also feel sorry for her because she seems to be in denial. Should I let her go or hope she changes her mind in the future?
It sounds like the lady is still committed to her husband and family. I think it is time for you to move on. In addition, relationships that have pity as a component usually do not work well. Marry your equal.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My wife and I have been married for almost 8 years and we have a 7 year old daughter. My wife has left me again and moved in with her parents who live over 1500 miles away. She wants a divorce and will not discuss anything with me. She says she doesnít love me anymore. This is the fourth time she has done this during our marriage. She usually stays with them 2 or 3 months then comes back to me.
Your wife is walking out on average approximately every two years for a few months and comes back ready to try again. Several things come to mind when I read this: first, your wife may need the drama of the great split and reconciliation in order to feel loved. Second, you and your wife do not know how to dissipate the tension in your marriage. She is the canary and needs to leave, get rid of her tension in a safe environment and return. Third, there is a fear emotional intimacy in your marriage.
You have not mentioned marriage counseling. A good licensed family therapist can teach you both the ways to achieve what you want in your marriage and for your daughter. Negotiate with your wife to get into therapy together.
When I see people in this come-go-come pattern, I think they want the marriage but are unable to cope with a part that they might not even be able to identify. There are two great books by Gary Smalley; one is called If He Only Knew and the other is Love is a Decision. They are both on my website bookshelf Start with If He Only Knew.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My wife and I have been married two years and are at the point in our marriage where we have tried everything and it still is not working. I want out of the relationship. I feel it is the only way I will be happy again.
I have tried to leave on two different occasions, and in both instances, my wife said she would rather be dead than be without me. What scares me is she has tried to commit suicide before. I don't know how to handle this. I feel I have no choice. What should I do?
Your wife obviously has emotional problems. With a history of suicide attempts, I would take her statements seriously, though they are part of her controlling behavior.
Your are her husband (ending the marriage is a separate issue) and you have a moral obligation to make sure she is cared for in therapy. She is emotionally ill, something that you were aware of when you married her, since she has past suicide attempts in her history. You need to sit down with a therapist, explain the situation, and get her into therapy.
I understand you are unhappy and dissatisfied. Anyone would be. The extent of your unhappiness does not nullify your obligations to your wife. I am not saying you have to continue the marriage, Instead, you have to meet a husbandís obligation toward his wife with respect to her safety.
A Question About Love
It is rare that I dedicate my column to just one letter or topic. The issues that this letter addresses, I think are important to my readers. Issues of marriage, choices, clear thinking, and relationship. Although this letter is written by a woman, the issues apply to both sexes.
Today I launch a new series of web pages on this site. Addressing the issues couples should be thinking about, talking about and evaluating before marriage I have placed chapters, adapted and excerpted from the Jeff and Danielle Myers book, Of Knights and Fair Maidens.
Dear Mrs Web,
He has never kissed me, or held me in his arms. He has never been romantic at all. His idea of a happy, non-stressful relationship is to not be obsessive and demanding. He thinks that we do not need physical love to be together. He often says that love is a weakness, and you should not rely upon physical love to make you happy in a relationship. He claims his parents are the same way.
I recently received my engagement ring from him. He did not kiss me or hug me when he gave it to me. I was crushed. To top it all off with, is that he won't tell his parents we are getting married right now, because he doesnít want to be criticized for any bad financial decision on his part.
You are engaged to a young man who does not enjoy or want physical contact or physical affection. He considers all except the most hands-off of relationships to be obsessive and demanding. He considers love a weakness and rejects physical affection.
I agree that one should not rely on physical love to make one happy in a relationship, but physical love is how a man and a woman bond, repair, and express their emotional oneness. It is the ultimate intimacy between them.
He has received these ideas from his parents so they are foundational building blocks of his personality Ė not a Stoic philosophical fad.
This twisted way of viewing relations between men and women is part of his basic make up. You must realize that how he treats you now is as good as it will get. Your relationship may deteriorate, but it wonít get any better than this. Can you live with this Ė forever?
He wonít tell his parents that he is engaged to his beloved because he refuses to submit to any questions, criticisms, or interference. This is typical decision from a controlling and closed personality.
Your fiancťe may be intellectually intelligent but he is emotionally broken. You have no way of getting him to pay more attention to you. He doesnít have the capacity to give a woman the affection, caring and consideration she requires and deserves as his life mate. He may be minimally affectionate on occasion, which will cause you to hope for change. Affection, for him, is a bargaining tool, at best, a method to control you. There is no fixing this.
Your fiancť is severely emotionally broken. You are considering marrying a man who is missing large parts of his emotional brain and his emotional body from navel down. You are settling for shreds.
There are women who delude themselves and think that with their overwhelming love, warmth, and understanding will change their men. Women who ignore all the warning signs and even the clear, outright words of their beloved. Women who are blind to everything except what they want and what they need.
Ten years later they sit in a counselorís office demoralized, depressed, empty, and upset. They say they are dead inside. They feel killed. All that is good, lighthearted and loving has been repeatedly rejected. They have been trying to get the affection they need from the stone they married.
Sometimes men and women fall in love with the wrong person. Falling in love is an opening of emotional boundaries to another. It occurs for many reasons, including pity and loneliness. I have known men and women to fall in love with severely mentally ill, as well as known violent people.
Even among the most feeling-driven of people, the head must evaluate what the heart wants. An intelligent, step by step evaluation of what the future would be like married to the beloved. How their weaknesses and strengths will appear and intensify ten, fifteen or twenty years down the road with twenty extra pounds, a jumbo mortgage, and three kids.
You are already asking for things your beloved cannot provide. You seriously need to reconsider this relationship. I hope you pay attention to what he says to you and break through the noise of your own needs.
Mixed Sex Bathing, Gotta Get A Life, Needs a New School, and "I Will Always Be Your Best Friend
Dear Mrs. Web,
I bathe my three-year-old girls and their two-year-old brother together. My mother in law is appalled. I used to take a bath with my brother. I will even take one of the kids into a shower with me if weíre in a hurry. Is this wrong?
I assume you stopped sharing your rubber ducky with your brother sometime before puberty. I donít have any problems with it. Five or six seems to be the cut-off for shared bathing in this culture. Some people have never been ÖahemÖexposed to the more relaxed attitudes of European bathing customs.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I sit at this little cubicle for weeks on end working on engineering problems. I work most weekends because I donít have anything else to do. I donít have anything else to do because I work. I am approaching thirty and I am burned out. I am sick of my company, my project, and my non-life. I canít change companies because of options. What can I do to have a life?
You donít need to change your company; you need to change your priorities beginning with making yourself a life. A life consists of your family, perhaps a spouse; perhaps children, friends, and several different interests that are donít replicate what you do at work.
I am going to let you in on a secret. Many people donít have much to do on the weekend. By not going into work or signing on to the computer, you will leave room to find something else to do, and perhaps someone to do it with. There are also some excellent interest surveys available to help you match up to the things that you would enjoy.
Dear Mrs. Web,
My eight-year-old daughter is not having a good year at school. She just hasnít been able to work well in her class. We had her tested over the summer and she is intelligent and normal. I just think she is bored and becoming disruptive. We canít afford any private schools. What should we do?
Some private schools will take parent work as a swap for at least partial tuition. Check the private religious schools in your area, and look at your skills.
Art teachers, computer lab managers, classroom teachers, tutors, cleaning help, carpentry work, homemaking skills, library skills, fundraising, and secretarial skills are just some of the gifts that can be bartered for tuition. Remember private schools do not need teaching degrees. In some states, college degrees are not needed either. Be creative.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I just broke up with woman I had been seeing for the past year. We were intimately involved. She told me that she still likes me very much and that I will always be her best friend but she doesnít love me. She also said that if I ever needed anything to count on her.
I have called her a few times since we ended our relationship and she seems cool on the telephone. Do you think I should continue to call?
Some people have a hard time saying goodbye. So they say "See you later", instead.
Former lovers donít make good best friends and interfere with subsequent relationships. It is time to break the connection.
Contact her today
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