Q. “Ron’’ and I have been married for three and a half years, together for four and a half. (I’m 30, and he’s 31.) When we first started dating, I honestly didn’t care if he went to church with me, shared my beliefs, or got along with my parents. Now, four years down the road, I realize I do care if he goes to church with me, shares my beliefs, and gets along with my parents. He gives in and goes to church maybe once a month, complaining the whole time about the pastor and his “sheep.’’ He doesn’t know if he would let his children be raised in the church, and he doesn’t really get along with my parents. Divorce has come up several times - along with massive fights and screaming matches. He usually walks out, and I always beg him to come back because I love him.
Now I’m the one who wants to end our marriage - before we bring kids into the picture. Ron is now begging me to work it out and telling me he wants the marriage to work, saying he’ll go to church, change his beliefs, and try to get along with my parents. Do I try to salvage my marriage? Do we split up and go our separate ways before we end up hating each other? We’ve tried counseling, but didn’t get very far. We were basically told, “You know what your problems are. Now fix them.’’ I do love my husband, but I don’t know that I’m “in love’’ with him anymore.
WONDERING IN THE WEST
A. As you may know, I don’t think much of the complaint, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him.’’ To me, that’s an issue of maturity and expectations. In the situation you describe, however, the two of you are thrashing out basic issues that many couples try to come to terms with before they are married. Because of your history together, and your having laid down the gauntlet, I would give him (and the marriage) a trial period. If he can live up to his pledges, then you will have a better idea of whether it’s a go.
Q. I am Mom to three beautiful girls with autism, ages 11, 15, and 16. Their 49-year-old aunt is getting married for the first time in the late fall. She invited two nieces to be flower girls and two nephews to be ring bearers. She did not invite my girls to even attend her wedding and, to clear up the “chatter’’ in the family, sent an e-mail to her brother saying, “There will be no other children under the age of 18 at my wedding.’’ My mother-in-law thinks the exclusion of her granddaughters is acceptable behavior. What do you think? And would you attend this wedding?
A. I know of a man with Asperger’s who married an autistic woman, so it seems to me that if people with autism can marry, they certainly may attend weddings. Granted, this is anecdotal and not scientific data involving a large sample, but I detect in your situation a prejudice against persons with disability - and the fact that it’s family makes it all the more hurtful.
I would bring it up directly with the bride. Use this incident as a teaching moment. You might also mention the sting of exclusion to your out-to-lunch mother-in-law, who is clearly leading or being led by her daughter. But do attend the wedding. If you cannot get your sister-in-law to change her mind, you will at least have gone on record and made your point.
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