Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - by Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: My boyfriend and I got en­gaged a few months ago. It should be the hap­pi­est time of my life, but my fu­ture mother-in-law is giv­ing me doubts.

She has talked down to me as if I’m a child, even though I own my own home and am suc­ceed­ing in my ca­reer. She has told us that we can­not af­ford a wed­ding, has be­lit­tled our re­la­tion­ship and has been un­sup­port­ive.

Rude com­ments such as, “You only get mar­ried once … well, hope­fully,” have left me in tears time and time again. I don’t dare be left alone with her any­more, as it usu­ally re­sults in her hurt­ing my feel­ings se­verely.

My fi­ance has seen me sob over her hurt­ful re­marks and has got­ten into ver­bal fights with her over wed­ding-re­lated is­sues.

She says she wants to be in­cluded, but her at­ti­tude is ter­ri­ble.

Prior to our en­gage­ment, I would have called us “friendly.” I un­der­stand that to her it feels like I am tak­ing her youngest son from her. But I feel that she is mak­ing this sit­u­a­tion even worse for her­self by be­ing con­trol­ling, over­bear­ing and out of line. Help! — Stressed-out Bride

Dear Stressed-out: The com­ment, “You only get mar­ried once … well, hope­fully” is TRUE. Maybe I’m miss­ing the con­text that made you cry, but that is ba­si­cally a true state­ment.

Your fu­ture mother-in-law sounds very cyn­i­cal about wed­dings. She should keep her cyn­i­cism to her­self, and be­ing hon­est about your own feel­ings beats blub­ber­ing in the cor­ner.

Toughen up like the tough cookie you are, and make a de­ter­mi­na­tion not to be ex­posed to this con­de­scen­sion. If you don’t want her in­volved in your wed­ding, then don’t in­volve her. At all. Dis­cuss only mat­ters that have to do di­rectly with her.

You also need to fig­ure out why your feel­ings are so ten­der that you don’t dare be left alone with her. When you learn to re­spond — firmly and re­spect­fully — she will ad­just her at­ti­tude, or at least learn that the way she talks to you has con­se­quences.

You are not “tak­ing her youngest son from her.” You are mar­ry­ing him. He is not a piece of prop­erty, to be traded or fought over. Dear Amy: My wife and I have been mar­ried for 23 years. Lately, she seems to be an­gry with me. I ask her what is wrong, and she says “noth­ing.” I feel like I am be­ing held hostage, won­der­ing what I did wrong.

I am al­most ready to pack up a few be­long­ings and leave and not tell her why, but I love her to pieces and would miss her.

Lately she has had a lot of health is­sues and she seems to be mis­er­able all the time. I have tried to take care of her as best I can, and she al­ways tells me how much she loves me, but I can’t re­mem­ber the last time we had an in­ti­mate mo­ment. We are both in our 60s.

I feel like I have lost my best friend and the love of my life. I just don’t know what to do. — Per­plexed

Dear Per­plexed: You and your wife need to learn how to talk to each other.

Your im­pulse to leave with­out ex­pla­na­tion only deep­ens the chasm be­tween you. If you’re go­ing to leave, you should tell her ex­actly how you feel be­fore you go.

In­stead of ask­ing your wife, “What’s wrong” and tak­ing “Noth­ing” as her an­swer, you should tell her how her be­hav­ior and at­ti­tude af­fects you.

Say, “You seem very unhappy, grouchy and an­gry lately. It makes me feel like I’ve done some­thing wrong. I don’t want to have such an an­gry mar­riage. Can we get back on track?” You should re­mind her that you are on her side.

She may tell you that when she doesn’t feel well, she would rather not in­ter­act at all, but it is her re­spon­si­bil­ity to use her words.

Once you two start talk­ing about your feel­ings, you should also talk about your sex­ual in­ti­macy.

Dear Amy: I ap­pre­ci­ate your thought­ful replies to peo­ple inquiring about be­ing god­par­ents.

How­ever, it is im­por­tant to stress that a god­par­ent, while an im­por­tant sym­bolic ti­tle, is very dif­fer­ent from be­ing named a guardian, which is a legal des­ig­na­tion.

— Fam­ily Lawyer

Dear Lawyer: These two terms are some­times used in­ter­change­ably, but yes, they are very dif­fer­ent.

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