Monday, July 25, 2011

My Boss Didn't RSVP

Dear Jocelyn,
Is it rude for me to ask my boss if she received my daughter's wedding invitation?  My daughter seems so excited and can't wait to hear about it.  I am afraid it may have gotten lost in the mail, but don't want my boss to feel obligated to give me an excuse if she just can't come.  The wedding is in 5 days.
-Mother of the Bride

Dear Mother of the Bride,
Of course it is not rude to check on guests who have not responded to an invitation!  In fact, you are being gracious by conjecturing that the invite might have been lost in the mail, rather than assuming that your boss is being rude and just didn't respond. I recommend treating the whole manner lightly; go to your boss and ask casually, "Mrs. Smith, I was finalizing the wedding plans and noticed we had not heard back from you about whether you could attend my daughter's wedding. Will you be able to make it?"

You said you don't want her to feel obligated to give an excuse if she cannot make it—don't worry about that!  A simple question about attendance is not putting undue pressure on her.  If she is unable to attend, she can give you the reason.  If she simply does not want to attend, she can make up some excuse, or (what I would recommend in her situation)say, "I'm afraid I won't be able to make it," and leave it at that.  Invitees are under no obligation to give a reason for not attending. 

I hope this helps, and congratulations to your family!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Leaving My Wife For Another Woman

Dear Jocelyn,
I'm leaving my wife of 8 years and moving abroad to be with the woman I love.  Unfortunately, I don't feel this woman loves me as much as I love her.  She says she will open up to me once I'm there with her.  In the meantime, I've left my wife, quit my job, and put my house on the market, but I can't stop thinking this could be a recipe for disaster.  I love this woman like crazy and she says she loves me too, but I'm extremely insecure and fear that my insecurities may cost me the life I’ve always wanted with her.  Please help.

Dear Insecure,
You might not appreciate the advice I am going to give you, but here it is:  End things with this other woman, go back to your wife, and beg her forgiveness for doing the unthinkable. 

You said you can't stop thinking that this could be a recipe for disaster. I agree—it is a disaster. I believe you will wake up in a few years and realize that you abandoned a wife who loved you for over eight years for another woman, who despite perhaps appearing to be sexier or more exciting, was just as flawed as the woman you left. I can guarantee that any problems you and this other woman currently have will not be fixed by you moving abroad together, and will most likely be compounded. 

Perhaps your extreme insecurities led to never fully giving yourself, heart and soul, to your wife. Or perhaps they led to you being hurt by things your wife said.  No matter the reason, it is time for you to take a risk and commit fully to your wife. 

Please don't think I am giving advice purely on moral grounds. While I could, I also must include my advice as a therapist, which is that whatever is wrong with your first marriage will be wrong with your second marriage. The reason?  They both have you in it. I say this not as an insult to you, but because one thing most marriage and family therapists can agree on is that when a person gets divorced and doesn't receive counseling to fix whatever problem caused the divorce, he is much more likely to divorce the second spouse. 

So, my advice—both as a Christian and as a therapist: go back to your wife, beg for her forgiveness, and beg her to receive counseling with you. I have a link on the side of my blog to look up counselors in your area; please take advantage of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boyfriend and Mother are Ruining Life

Dear Jocelyn,
I usually do not do this, but I definitely need advice. I've been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years, and I have never been with anyone else.  However, he has cheated on me with two other females.  We just had a beautiful baby boy.  We have been butting heads—every weekend he thinks I always have something to complain about; however, I think my concerns are reasonable to bring up and discuss.  At this point in time, he has stated that he is fed up and wants to go separate ways, but this is the last thing I want since I grew up without a father figure around the house (and of course because I am truly in love with him).  On the other hand, my mom does not like him; she always has comments about everything and anything and is always complaining—nothing is ever good enough for her.  She is miserable and she thinks I am obligated to give her things I have and take her everywhere I go. I definitely think she is the reason that I am the way I am.  My mom's ways are ruining my life.  I don't want to be miserable, single, and raising my son without both parents together and happy.  Please help!
-Life Is Falling Apart

Dear Falling Apart,
I see two problems in your letter—your relationship with your boyfriend, and your relationship with your mother. I'll address them one at a time. 

When reading your letter, I was fully set on advising you to leave your boyfriend behind and never see him again without a second thought until I read that you two have a son together; then my heart sank as I realized such advice would no longer be practical. Since you have a child, you two are forever joined by this new life you have created. I think you are right in wishing to give your son a father, and that means staying in close proximity to this fellow so that your son can see him often. 

However, all of this does not mean you must marry him, or even continue to date him—if you do, your future relationship will most likely be one of heartache and pain. Your boyfriend has made it clear to you that he does not love you. He might enjoy your company, and say that he loves you, but his past infidelities mean he has not made the wholehearted commitment that love requires to survive. He has also stated to you that he is "fed up" and wants to leave. This, again, is a clear sign that he does not love you. 

I want you to change your mindset for a moment. Right now you are lovesick for him, pining after this man that has cheated on you twice and has expressed a desire to leave. Consider this: as the woman in this relationship, you are the one he should be pursuing. While being the woman does mean working hard in the relationship and sometimes fighting for your man, all I see here is a disinterested man getting away with whatever he wants because he has a woman who loves him no matter what he does to her.

Go to your boyfriend and state that you are leaving (or at least agree to separate). Work out visitation for your son so that he gets to be with his father frequently. Move on from this man, and develop your own interests.  Visit a counselor and work through your feelings of low self-worth; she can also help you sort out your relationship with your mother. 

Speaking of your mother, you say she is ruining your life, and she is miserable.  You are an adult with a child—it is time you learn how to have an adult relationship with your mother.  First, consider the advice she has given you—is it actually wrong, or do you just disregard it because it’s coming from her?  Second, when she begins complaining and acting miserable, end the conversation. If you are on the phone, say you must be going and you will talk later. If you are visiting, change the topic. If she insists on continuing, stand up and leave. Your obligation to your mother is to be respectful and to care for her if she needs it, not to sit and listen to continual complaining. 

With both of these relationships, think of the example you want to set for your son. Do you want him to see his mother in a relationship where she lets herself be cheated on? Or in a relationship where she is a doormat?  Of course not; you want him to see you as someone who is strong and knows that she is worthy of respect.