Q. My husband and I are in our mid-20s and have a wonderful marriage. There is one little problem, though: his family. While my family welcomed my husband into the fold with open arms, his mom repeatedly requests that I be excluded from family visits because she wants it to be “family only.’’ Despite the fact that she was present and claimed to be ecstatic at our wedding, I’m sometimes not even sure she understands that we’re married and suspect she may still think of me as a disposable, casual girlfriend. We have cut off almost all contact with his family, but unfortunately, he and his mother work for the same organization, and it is not feasible for my husband to change jobs to avoid her. This is his dream job.
How can he handle the situation with his unbearable and relentless mother? I love my marriage, and I love my husband, but I have been dealing with this for almost five years. Cataloging everything his mother (not to mention his literally certifiable sister) has done over the years could fill enough pages to be a full-length novel, and I’m at the end of my rope.
TEARING OUT MY HAIR IN CALIFORNIA
A. The good news is that you’re not in a battle with a husband who has taken the position: “My family, right or wrong.’’ He apparently agrees with you that the women he’s related to by blood have fallen off the balance beam. Your husband must not be chased from his dream job, and the workplace situation may be a strange kind of blessing. He needs to tell “unbearable and relentless’’ that you are family, and that her non-acceptance of you would require him to institute a formal estrangement. Her choice.
What he doesn’t need to tell her is that your marriage is on the line. He must go on record - maybe in a letter - that a continuing relationship with her, as it is now, is bad for his health and he chooses not to deal with her. And he has to mean it. If she gets really nutty at work, she will be let go.
Q. I met a man about six months ago on a dating website. I fell in love with him against my better judgment, and then he broke my heart. We are still friends (with benefits), and he still tells me all the time that he loves me, but is just not ready for a relationship. He is a past drug user with some mental issues. Do you think I should give him time or move on? Thanks.
A. Give him time for what, my dear? While he is enjoying the “benefits,’’ you are functioning as his own personal escort service, and the payment you are receiving is anguish. It has always seemed to me like bad business to dally with someone who has essentially told you he loves you but . . . he is not “ready’’ for a relationship. Taking the long view, this man is not only unable to give you what you want, but he sounds emotionally shaky. I suspect in the long run you will have dodged a bullet by believing him about not being ready for a relationship. I suggest you gently tell him that the benefits office is closed.
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