Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 15 2003 10:19 AM

Sea Sick

9_dearprudence_01

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Dear Prudence,

I am 31 years old, and it has taken me 30 years to find Mr. Right. We are planning a wedding aboard a cruise ship that we and his family are thrilled about. The problem is my family. They are so traditional that they are shooting everything down and flat-out refuse to come because it's not traditional. There are three children in my family: My sister is the favorite, then my brother, and I just exist. If this was my sister's thing, they would have been booked the day after the plans were announced. This has been very hard and draining on me, and my future spouse gets upset for my sake. We are being careful with our spending to make this work, and they don't understand this. Am I wrong to be angry with my family over this? What do you think?

—Anonymous

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Dear An,

You are surely the first person to have started looking for a husband at the age of 1, so it's lovely to hear that you've finally found him. Best wishes. As for the ceremony, you and your intended must have had a hunch that your family would not be gung-ho about a floating wedding with sea creatures as onlookers. Prudie thinks, however, that because it's what you two want, and given the uneasy relationship between you and your family, you should go ahead with the wedding at sea and look on the bright side. Without your family present, there will be no stress, and you will be with those who love you and see things the way you do.

—Prudie, rockingly

Dear Prudie,

I need your advice on a certain matter. I am 42 years old, and at the age of 19, I dated a beautiful young lady who looked just like Jane Seymour. We met in church and kept a very godly relationship. We liked each other tremendously. One sad day our pastor did not show up for the Sunday morning service, and neither did my girlfriend. I did not put two and two together simply because I trusted him. Well, he ran off with my girlfriend, divorced his wife, and left the church. I was hurt much more by the way he left his wife, children, and faithful church members. Now I get a phone call from my old girlfriend, and all of a sudden she wants to see me. I have been divorced for seven years now and have not dated for five. I am totally focusing on my children and my business. The ex-pastor is now nearly 70 years old, and she is in her mid-40s. She called me to let me know that their divorce was final, and now she calls me constantly. He is out of money and can no longer "sheer the sheep" like in days of old. What gets me is that my ex-girlfriend has stayed with him for over 20 years, spending the money from the elderly folks he took advantage of. What I am asking is this: Is it possible for a person to change after 20 years? I kind of want to see her because we really hit it off when we were dating, but a part of me says STOP!

—What Do I Do?

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Dear What,

The time between 19 and 42 can be life-altering, and people can change ... but there is also the possibility that your Jane Seymour doppelgänger is looking to re-establish things because the money is gone and maybe the passion is, as well. The age difference between mid-40s and almost 70 must seem substantial to the new divorcee. Then, too, you sound as though you have solid values, so this woman's history might make it impossible for you to trust or respect her. What you decide to do will depend on how curious you are. This is entirely a judgment call—and the judgment will have to be yours.

—Prudie, ponderingly

Dear Prudie,

My parents are much more rigid in their discipline than anyone else's; my brothers and I have to go to church every Sunday, and I am an atheist. My parents completely disregard my beliefs, and they say if I do not go to church, they will send me to an all-girls Catholic high school. Their punishments are very extreme. We have had our computer and TV privileges taken away from us for a month, simply for moving in our seats at a symphony concert we had not wanted to go to in the first place. They will not let my dye my hair, period, and I have to wear only solid T-shirts or long-sleeved shirts. I have run out of ways to deal with this, and I need to know if this is the way most parents behave or if we are the unlucky one in a million.

—Miserable (and Sneaking Computer Time)

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Dear Mis,

In spirit, you and your sibs may be the lucky ones in a million because your parents believe some things are important and are willing to take a stand. They do, however, sound as though they're overdoing it in the discipline department. You do not say how old you are, but there can't be too many more years before you can skip the symphony, stop going to church, dye your hair, and spend unlimited time in front of the tube or the computer. While Prudie agrees that a minor who thinks he or she is an atheist should not be made to attend church, your parents may feel you don't yet have enough information to make that decision. Try to see their side of things, and perhaps keep a calendar so you can mark off the months until you are 18. Also bear in mind that, in the scheme of things, a too strict parent is often preferable to one who has no restrictions or demands at all.

—Prudie, moderately

Dear Prudence,

Cutting right to the chase, my mother-in-law sent me an e-mail. In it she stated that she was tired of hearing a running joke that I have with my husband. He travels a lot with a new promotion, and sometimes when he brings up his schedule, I laugh and make a comment about "needing to get a boyfriend." I adore my husband, so this is VERY MUCH a joke between us, and anyone who knows us would realize this. Well, in her e-mail, in so many words, she accused me of insulting my husband, as well as saying other rude things. When I read it, instead of jumping up and down (like I wanted to do), I simply asked my husband if it bothered him. He said no, and he meant it. OK, I just won't say anything like that in front of her, no big deal.  So now my problem is, do I call her on it, or do I say nothing? 

—Wimpy Wife

Dear Wimp,

Say nothing. The old girl clearly doesn't have your sense of humor—or perhaps any sense of humor. And a humorless mother-in-law can be, uh, trying. Prudie knows this because ... well, never mind.

—Prudie, humorously