Aunt won­ders how to coun­sel niece on mar­riage

The Observer (Sarnia) - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON

Dear Amy:

I am close with my niece, who re­cently got en­gaged. Her now-fi­ance was up front, by say­ing he didn’t re­ally be­lieve in mar­riage. She was up front, too, say­ing that if he ever wanted to buy a house, her name would not go on a mort­gage if they weren’t mar­ried. Not that she would break up with him — she would stay, but she would want a lease agree­ment rather than put her name on the mort­gage.

Re­cently, he got se­ri­ous about buy­ing a house and my niece stuck to her guns — ei­ther get mar­ried or sign a lease. He pro­posed.

Now he says his grand­par­ents have to be at the wed­ding. But they are al­most 5,000 miles away and too old to fly, so he is in­sist­ing they get mar­ried where the grand­par­ents live.

Amy, my niece’s fa­ther has ad­vanced Parkin­son’s dis­ease and can’t pos­si­bly travel that far, ei­ther. In ad­di­tion, 98 per­cent of both of their im­me­di­ate fam­i­lies are be­ing ex­cluded from the wed­ding held in this re­mote lo­ca­tion, be­cause they can’t af­ford to get there.

I think he is be­ing pas­sive-ag­gres­sive be­cause of my niece’s re­fusal to put her name on a mort­gage with­out be­ing mar­ried. This busi­ness of ex­clud­ing her fa­ther and dis­en­fran­chis­ing her en­tire fam­ily from the wed­ding is un­con­scionable.

I think he is pur­posely cre­at­ing ob­sta­cles be­cause he doesn’t re­ally want to get mar­ried.

My niece has asked me for ad­vice. She re­ally loves him and wants to marry him, but she sees it as a stale­mate on the lo­ca­tion — I see a re­luc­tant groom. What should I tell her? — WOR­RIED AUNT

Dear Aunt:

My per­spec­tive about this cou­ple is that they use ne­go­ti­a­tion, rather than con­sen­sus, to ad­vance their re­la­tion­ship. I don’t think this is hugely un­com­mon. How­ever, if this is the way they op­er­ate and com­mu­ni­cate, your niece needs to be pre­pared for fu­ture stale­mates, es­pe­cially sur­round­ing large life events that are al­ready stress­ful. Have they talked about hav­ing chil­dren, how to share their ex­penses or fu­ture care is­sues hav­ing to do with their par­ents?

Her fi­ance’s choice doesn’t seem to honor her or her fam­ily re­la­tion­ships. In fact, un­less he can sug­gest or agree to a com­pro­mise, his choice seems hos­tile.

For­tu­nately for you, this doesn’t con­cern you di­rectly. When your niece asks you for ad­vice, you could be both hon­est and cir­cum­spect, and say, “You two seem to see this as a stale­mate on the lo­ca­tion for your wed­ding, but I see it as be­ing big­ger than that. Have you had your pre­mar­i­tal coun­sel­ing yet?”

Dear Amy:

I re­cently re­ceived a post­card from the sher­iff ’s depart­ment stat­ing that a neigh­bor is a “reg­is­tered sex of­fender.”

The no­ti­fi­ca­tion said his crime was com­mit­ted 30 years ago and that he failed to reg­is­ter prop­erly when he moved here. It does not state where the orig­i­nal of­fense oc­curred.

I’ve been on a neigh­borly first­name ba­sis with him for sev­eral years in our com­mu­nity and he has al­ways seemed like a nice enough guy, though I don’t know him well. I don’t feel threat­ened by him.

We waved and ex­changed a “Hi” yes­ter­day for the first time since I re­ceived the no­tice. I as­sume he knows all of his neigh­bors have re­ceived it.

I hate to dis­play my ig­no­rance, but what, if any­thing, has changed with re­ceipt of that post­card? — WON­DER­ING NEIGH­BOR Dear Neigh­bor:

What has changed is your knowl­edge that your neigh­bor com­mit­ted a crime against an­other per­son 30 years ago.

You can learn as much as is legally al­low­able by us­ing the sex of­fender data­base to search your neigh­bor’s record. My own re­search re­veals that there are dif­fer­ent des­ig­na­tions and

“risk level de­ter­mi­na­tions” as­signed to sex of­fend­ers.

In my state, a per­son at the low­est risk level will get their name re­moved from the data­base after 20 years. Your neigh­bor might have com­mit­ted a more se­ri­ous of­fense to still be listed. The data­base might re­veal spe­cific de­tails of his crime.

The post­card no­ti­fi­ca­tion is specif­i­cally de­signed to in­form peo­ple, so that you may then make your own de­ter­mi­na­tion re­gard­ing a re­la­tion­ship with this per­son in your com­mu­nity. So, after you do some re­search, the rest is up to you.

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