Q. I have been married to my husband for 12 years. I have three grown children from a previous marriage, and he has none. He has always been somewhat jealous of my kids and cannot understand why I talk to my daughter almost every day. She lives six hours away, and we have a very close relationship. My boys live nearby, and when I want to have them over for dinner, my husband acts angry and makes comments about them.
My latest dilemma is that my daughter and her husband are coming home for Thanksgiving and bringing their dog. The dog is very friendly and house-trained. My husband told me absolutely no dog. We have two dogs and a good-size home and yard. I feel he is being extremely difficult and putting me in a bad spot with my daughter.
This is another situation of feeling I have to choose between his wants and my kids’ wants. Some days I feel my life would be nicer if I were not married and could have my kids around without tension. What are your thoughts?
A. If your husband had more of a stake in these relationships, he wouldn’t feel so threatened by them. It sounds as if you’ve been the go-between for 12 years. You need to back off — just far enough so that your loved ones take more responsibility for their feelings and opinions. And he needs to stop being such a baby.
Try this: Your daughter wants to bring her dog to your house. Your husband doesn’t want that. The next time you are talking to her on the phone, you can say, “Chrissy, Bob has expressed concerns about you bringing the dog. Here — let me put him on so he can explain it.” If your husband maintains his “no dog” stance with your daughter, then he’s not putting you in a bad spot with her — he’s putting himself there (and frankly, you should consider backing him up on this). You shouldn’t have to choose “between his wants and the kids’ wants.” And he should definitely step up, try harder, and be more respectful.
Q. Is it appropriate to give my son’s fiancee a (relatively) expensive ring? I’m thinking of giving her a ring I had made for myself more than 40 years ago. It has great sentimental value, but I don’t wear it anymore. My intention was to present it as a gift welcoming her into the family.
My son’s fiancee is not from this country, and both of her parents died a little over a year ago. She is a delightful, upbeat, loving, and unselfish person.
My son is 41, and his girlfriend is 40; neither one has ever been married before. We are delighted for both of them. If you think it is OK, could you please suggest some appropriate wording?
A. This is a lovely gesture, and the “right” way to make it is directly from the heart. You say, “We are overjoyed for both of you and look forward to having you in our family. This is a ring I’ve had for a very long time, and I would love for you to have it.” The only caveat is that you must not expect her to wear this ring. It will be hers to enjoy as she wishes.
Q. About the letter from “The Teach” on how to handle her hot flashes at school, my teacher carried a small battery-operated fan, which could also be placed on her desk. Sometimes she’d say, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” And the class would reply, “It’s just you!”
A. I have received a surprisingly high volume of mail about this. Students have been paying attention.