Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 8 2003 11:13 AM

Mother's Daze

9_dearprudence_01

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Prudie,

I'm in this great relationship. I couldn't ask for anything better. I have a guy with a great personality, great physical appearance, and a great job (and future). Even his parents love me! We have been getting very serious lately and plan to get married in at least two years. The only problem in this near-perfect relationship is MY mother. My boyfriend is of a different race, and it's not that my mother's racist—she just wants me marrying within my own. I told her every detail about him when we started dating, including his skin color, but I guess she never thought we were going to get serious. When I asked, "So you'd be mad if I married a guy outside of my race?" she looked at me like it was very obvious and replied, "Yeah!" I am going to marry this man because he has treated me so much better than all my other ex-boyfriends. However, I don't know how to approach my mother about it. I want her to walk me down the aisle since my father hasn't been in my life, but if she disapproves, she might not want to come. Then I'd have no one to walk me down the aisle. How do I explain to her that I don't care about his skin color, just his heart?

—Stumped

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Dear Stump,

You explain it just as you just have here and by talking about your feelings and your experiences. Prudie hopes she will respect your resolve. And if she does not, you will have to be strong. As for your mother walking you down the aisle, while this is now common practice, so is it to have both parents. And it's also in fashion for the bride to walk alone down the aisle, to give herself away, as it were. With luck, your mother will thaw out before the wedding is planned.

—Prudie, hopefully 

Dear Prudie,

I am a single woman who retired three years ago and bought a home in a different state. I have made new friends and created a niche for myself in my new location, but I still occasionally visit by phone with old friends. My problem is a friend with whom I have only a few things in common. We exchanged some favors, and I enjoyed her company and her husband's from time to time when I lived near them. Lately she has been calling me more frequently.
She's developed chronic health problems and asks my advice as a former health professional. She experiences conflicts in her marriage and calls to tell me about it. She calls daily, even several times daily, and describes at length the personal problems of friends of hers I've never met. Several months ago she decided to visit me for a couple of weeks. She "enjoyed" her visit so much that she now is looking for a good airfare so she can come and stay longer ... maybe "a month or so." She can barely afford the airfare, so I pay for everything else.Prudie, I have never invited this friend to visit. I don't want her here again so soon, and not for a month. I'm beginning to avoid her phone calls. I'm a good listener, but she's become so self-absorbed I'm getting very tired of listening to her. And I'm busy with my new life. How can I tactfully tell her that I don't want to be "best friends," and certainly not at a distance of hundreds and hundreds of miles?

—Too Good a Listener

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Dear Too,

It is clear you wish to behave in a kind fashion, but you will have to be more direct about how you really feel if you are not to be held hostage to this woman's neediness. This will entail more than hiding from her phone calls. You have to say, in writing or in a call, that you wish her all the best, but you are not able, for many reasons, to maintain the friendship at the level that she wishes. You can plead time constraints, finances, other obligations, etc. If you do not stick up for yourself, you will be saddled with this overbearing woman. People cannot keep you on the phone or come for visits unless you permit it. Good luck.

—Prudie, appropriately

Dear Prudie,

My husband and I have been married for four years. We started off very well and are still doing fine, except for one thing. About a month ago, he and I ran into his ex-girlfriend. He dated her for a year and a half prior to meeting me. Ever since he ran into her and we all got introduced to each other, he has been talking about her nonstop. At least three or four times a day, he'll talk about her. I've asked him why he talks about her all the time, and he says "just because." But I also know that he has been calling her and she has been calling him, and they have talked a lot. I guess I don't know what to do about it. Please help so my marriage does not end over this silly thing.

—Very Annoyed

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Dear Ver,

"Just because" is no answer, unless one is a first-grader. Since asking him doesn't seem to be getting the job done, tell him to knock it off with the old girlfriend unless he'd like to be free to openly pursue her. Tell him it hurts your feelings; plus, it's not good form. And if necessary, tell him that marital betrayal need not involve meeting at lunchtime in a Holiday Inn.

—Prudie, vociferously

Dear Prudence,

My daughter is engaged to a 27-year-old abusive idiot. He chokes her, calls her unbelievable names, and does anything else he can come up with. I have been trying to get her out of this relationship for well over a year. He's been married before and has two children by two different women. He doesn't work three-fourths of the time, and he is taking my daughter for what little bit she has. My daughter has a 2-year-old son, and now I'm worried about what he might be doing to him as well. I am seriously thinking about filing for full custody of my grandson. I know this will end my relationship with my daughter if I do this, but what else can I do? She won't listen to me or any of the other people who have told her to get away from him. Please help!

—Frantic Grandma

Dear Fran,

If you think the child is endangered, by all means go for it. Your daughter sounds so far gone now that no relationship with her might be a blessing. The man you describe will certainly not add anything positive to the little boy's upbringing and might, in fact, cause harm of one kind or another. This is a fight worth getting into. Good luck.

—Prudie, correctively