Dear Prudence: Who gets to celebrate Mother’s Day in a lesbian marriage?

Help! My Lesbian Wife Thinks She’s the Only Mother on Mother’s Day.

Help! My Lesbian Wife Thinks She’s the Only Mother on Mother’s Day.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 13 2013 3:18 PM

This Holiday Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose Mother's Day thunder is constantly stolen—by her wife.

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A: A weight gain of 150 pounds in two years is extremely alarming and if your son's fiancée were drinking excessively or behaving in other obviously destructive ways you would say something to him. So say something. Explain your love Audrey, but she is endangering her health, and you are worried about their future together. Then even if she can't shut her mouth, you have to shut yours. If your son is old enough to marry, he's old enough to make his own decisions about whom to marry and what to eat, even if they are poor ones. As for family members, just shake your head and say that all of you should be sympathetic about how hard it is not to overindulge.

Q. Re: Gay marriage and polyamory: Why did you lump gay marriage and polyamory together in the same sentence? They are not, in any way, related. This inappropriate association is how folks get crazy ideas that gay marriage and beastiality or gay marriage and child sex abuse are linked. I am happy being married to my same-sex husband. I don't want a boyfriend (or two).

A: My point was that when you expand the definition of marriage beyond one man and one woman, society can expect other consenting adults in other configurations to say that their choices deserve recognition. Polygamy has an ancient history and is legal in many parts of the world. As I said, I find the rules of polygamy to be damaging and we've seen it's potentially dangerous to young girls and terrible for "excess" boys. But polyamory is supposed to be a more equal arrangement among agreeing adults. I'm certainly not suggesting legalization of polyamory. But it's also unfairly judgmental of you to compare such relationships to the criminal acts of bestiality or child sexual abuse.


Q. Gambling debt?: For Mother's Day, I decided to treat my mom to a weekend of gambling, as she has always enjoyed this, and she hadn't been to a casino in a long time. I checked it out with her ahead of time, made the reservations, drove us there, etc., and we spent two nights in Reno. While at the actual casino, we sometimes drifted apart and did our separate things. I was quite lucky, and won a slot machine payout of over $1,000. It was nice, as it basically paid me back for the weekend, and left me a bit of extra money. My mom lost several hundred dollars. The problem is that now she expects me to pay for her losses. In her words, "What's the big deal, you won anyway?" She feels that since I hosted for this trip, I somehow "owe" her for her losses because I won. I have no intention of paying her back for the money she lost, and she can certainly afford it. But now she is furious with me. Help! Did I do something wrong?

A: At least you can hope your mother is not going to kneecap you for not paying what she thinks is a gambling debt. It would be one thing if your mother had handed you a silver dollar and said, "Please play this for me." It's another if lady luck shone on you this Mother's Day and not on her. You comped her for her celebration, so she should be grateful that she had so much fun and that her losses were relatively minimal. Accept your entire windfall as payment for being such a thoughtful child.

Dear Prudence: Her Lying Eyes

Q. Re: LW with panic disorder: The LW clearly said s/he suffers from a panic disorder. Why is it a character flaw of the boyfriend's if he admits he may not be able to be in a long-term relationship with a person who suffers from a panic disorder?

A: Because she just saw her dead friend and any decent person would in the aftermath of that be kind and supportive. Yes, people with medical or psychological conditions should also tell their partner about such things. So this is a lesson for both of them to think through as they find new loves.

Q. Extended Family Always Wants Our Time: My husband and I moved away from our hometown almost 15 years ago. We left behind all our immediate family (both sides) and as a result have gone back to our hometown for "vacations" throughout the years. We now have two kids that are a bit older (3 and 8) and would like to start doing more of our own vacations. My husband is going to have a milestone birthday this winter and I'd like to take our family on a tropical vacation to celebrate. The problem? We won't be able to return to our hometown for our typical "summer” vacation as I'd like to save money. My own parents are OK with this, but my MIL is not happy. She was planning on us coming and is distraught we won't be able to make it. I invited her to come here instead (we live in a vacation-destination state) but she is unwilling to travel and seemed resentful when she mentioned us taking a "winter vacation" someplace warm. How do I fix this? For the record my parents visit annually but my husband's family will not travel here despite having more freedom of time and financial resources. Thoughts?

A: It's perfectly fair that not every vacation for the next decade plus consists of a return to your hometown. But you have to recognize that keeping children connected to their extended families also has a value that's equal to sun and surf. If your in-laws are physically and financially capable of visiting, then your husband should talk to his parents and try to convince them it would be a great change up if your children got to show his parents your hometown. It could be that your in-laws are uncomfortable with the idea of bunking in your house, so he should say that there are great accommodations nearby if they prefer to have more privacy. And if they won't come, and your family can't afford two big trips in a year, your husband can always suggest that his parents underwrite your summer visit to your parents' town.

Q. Love Him or Leave Him: I have been dating a wonderful man for about four months now. He is a model boyfriend 90 percent of the time, but it’s that 10 percent that concerns me. He binge drinks and when he does his personality changes significantly. He goes from being a kind-hearted caring man to someone that ignores me for long periods of time, is nasty, and blames me for everything. All his friends are huge drinkers. He does not drink daily, but tells me that once he starts he cannot stop. It happens at least four times a month. He apologizes and seems truly sincere and sad, and then it just keeps happening. He refuses to admit he has a problem. I want to give him an ultimatum, but everyone advises against it. I cannot deal with the drinking, but I truly love the rest of him. Is it wrong to give the ultimatum? I've given him several chances to "control" the drinking and each time he fails. I have told him I think he's an alcoholic he does not agree. Are you aware of any good free resources for binge drinkers, it seems most cater to alcoholics? It is very easy to just tell me to walk away, and that's what all of my friends think, but when you are in the situation, it’s just not that black and white.

A: However you want to define his problem his relationship with alcohol is toxic not just to him, but to you. In the four months you've been together, by your count you've witnessed at least 16 episodes where he is an abusive drunk. Forget the ultimatums, he's chosen the bottle, and you need to walk. This situation is actually plenty black and white, and the longer you hang in there during episodes the greater your danger of ending up black and blue.

Q. Re: For the Polyamorist: A cautionary tale: A friend went through this with several other couples. It all ended badly and everyone ended up getting divorced. It was painful and expensive for all involved (including the children). I think it was fun for everyone in the beginning, but over time, it caused a lot of stresses in everyone's marriage and other relationships. I'm not saying this will happen with your situation, but please think through your decisions carefully.

A: I agree that upending an existing marital arrangement is fraught with all sorts of potential emotional perils.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.