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I Still Don't Trust Him, and
The Mean Lady Who Lives Next Door
Dear Mrs. Web,
My husband had an affair last year and I am finding it very hard to forget what happened. I love him very much but each time something upsetting is said or done the hurt comes right back. We have moved to a new home in another state and I am sure things will work out OK for us but the feelings of distrust are still there.
I think he is being extra nice because I found out about the affair. I need your advice.
He should be extra-nice.
Did you both run away from your problems or did you face them squarely? Did you tell him about your hurt and pain? Did he beg forgiveness and did you both get to the point of vulnerability and renewal? Or, are you still scrunched up in pain? When renewal happens in a marriage, it is a kind of a honeymoon, but with new level of wisdom, self-knowledge, knowledge of the beloved, and acceptance of each other.
Trust is earned. When trust is broken the trust-breaker has to work twice as hard to establish it again. And the one who was hurt has to work to establish benchmarks of trust: First I trust to here, then to here, then to here, finally, completely.
You both may want spiritual or marriage counseling to learn ways to learn to re-establish trust. This is not a one-year project. This kind of healing and change takes time.
I wish you well; you are in my thoughts.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have recently ended a "friendship" with our next-door neighbor over an ongoing dispute regarding our children who played together. We are of differing opinions on resolving the children's conflict. She interferes with their arguments and blames my child. I, on the other hand, let them resolve their own problems.
We have been keeping our distance from this woman. She has treated my child poorly on two occasions, once when my child telephoned to speak to her child, and once outside our local elementary school. Both times, my child was emotionally shaken. After the second incident, I telephoned this woman and asked her not to confront my child. I was very serious and no-nonsense about it. She was disrespectful. I ended our relationship.
I know these incidents have nothing to do with our children and everything to do with this insecure, rage-full woman. I have tried to explain to my child that adults shouldn't act this way - that it is wrong for any adult to behave this way towards her and that she has my support. I have said: "be polite and move on." Today, my child ran in to her child at a neighbor's house. My child said hello to both the mother and child and was obviously and deliberately snubbed.
This chronologically forty-year-old woman ignored my child's hello and intentionally greeted the other child present. My child came home very hurt. She cognitively understands what is going on but emotionally is stressed. I have advised her to avoid them as much as possible, and say hello only if they offer it first. Any other wisdom about this situation would be greatly appreciated.
I think you are doing a wonderful job teaching your daughter how to protect herself around this woman and her child. There are difficult people in this world and you have the misfortune of living next door to one of them. I would continue your explanations and support.
As an adult I would cheerfully offer my greetings to your neighbor when you encounter them but would avoid any other contact with her or her child. Always be polite and distant to the child, and remove yourself from its presence. They are not safe people.
You didnít say how old your child is, I would tell her to greet these people quietly and politely. It is a good skill to learn that some relationship end at greeting levels. I would turn this all into a rueful joke, quite frankly, and not load it so much. Letís face, your neighborís behavior is pathetic and silly.
When she comes home with a story of a snub, smile and shake your head and point out how sad and silly the behavior is, to snub a little child. This is a way to defuse the hurt and minimize the interaction. Continue to assure her that it is they and not she. Eventually, these people will turn into a family joke.
Walk Like a Woman, and
Dear Mrs. Web,
My husband and I have lost our motivation to clean, and keep up the house. Even folding clothes seems like too much. He works at home and it's very tight with his office, the 2 of us, and an 85 pound retriever. This morning I talked with him and he said he was depressed because he can't take the house the way it is anymore.
Our motivation has been so bad we don't even walk the dog 2 times a day anymore. We all have,, dog included, gained weight. We are trying to gain control over our eating and doing much better with our diets.
It's crazy to get depressed because you're house isn't clean, isnít it? Do you have any suggestions?
Dear Mrs. Web firmly believes that the condition of a personís home can affect his mood. Dear Mrs. Web becomes positively overwhelmed with the flotsam and jetsam of one husband, four obedient, well-mannered but sloppy children, two messy guinea pigs, one ant farm, a bowl of polliwogs, and one not- so- well-mannered dog.
Dear Mrs. Web has long been a firm advocate of household help: daily, twice a week, weekly, twice a month, once each season, or twice a year. Whatever the budget will manage. When faced with the kind of slump you are having, bringing someone in to help you sort out the mess is a godsend. It cost a bit, but I chalk it up to the mental health and well-being fund.
Please realize you are writing to a woman who, when single, had a one-room apartment and a cleaning woman.
Dear Mrs Web,
About two years ago, I underwent a sex-change surgery, from male to female. I am very happy now that I have all that behind me now, but I still have one problem. I am told that I walk, and sit too much like a man - and I'm very self-conscious about it.
I have been looking for help with this problem. I have even contacted several modeling and charm schools, hoping that they might be able to help me move in a more feminine manner. The problem I face is that no one will respond or follow up on my initial contacts. I'm sure this is an unusual request, but it is one that I take very seriously. I hope you might be able to send me in the right direction.
If you are contacting modeling and charm schools and telling them that you are post-sex change, and you want to walk more like a girl, you will probably not receive calls back. Although transsexuals are more in the news lately, it is not something comfortable or familiar. . Most people tend to shy away from anything so unusual.
If you truly think you are a woman now and want to add more charm and grace to your movements, that is what you should ask for.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I always enjoy helping people. However, I am beginning to think I overextend myself with my boyfriend. I do an awful lot for him and really don't get a whole lot in return. He tells me about different things he wants and plans to do for me, but they never seems to happen.
This past weekend, he had a busy schedule and then was going to a fund-raiser for an old friend, about two hours away. Because I was getting out of work early that day, I agreed to let his dog out at lunchtime.
I knew he was going to call me to drive the 25 minutes to his house that evening to let his dog out again so I intentionally missed three of his calls. I returned his call later in the evening leaving a pleasant voice mail for him on his cell phone.
He called me the next morning and said he tried to reach me to let his dog out so he could be out longer with his friends. He also asked me whether I would watch his dog for three days while he is out of town. I said I wasnít sure; I had to think about it. He was surprised I said this, but you know, it felt good! Should I feel guilty?
I canít imagine what you think you might be doing wrong. Everyone should have boundaries. Relationships are like tennis, you hit the ball, and your opponent hits it back. There should equal generosity in relationships.
When you lose your boundaries, you get forgotten, put-upon, and used. Even well meaning people tend to push boundaries as far as possible.
When someone overlooks their responsibilities in a relationship or disregards them with a "I planned to it for you," it is time to reevaluate. There are plenty of boarding kennels for Ol' Bowser. I think it is time to pull back and see whether he is committed to you or the convenience of you.
My Daughter Wants to Marry, and
Dear Mrs. Web,
My 18-year-old daughter wants to marry her 17-year-old boyfriend. In fact, she has moved out of our home to live with his parents. Any advice would help.
Your adult daughter has decided to marry her boyfriend with the support of his family. I am assuming you are against this marriage and that she knows it.
She is an adult and your daughter, and you have told her your opinion. She has chosen to ignore it, so, it is time for you to mend fences and realize that you are probably going to gain a son-in-law.
It is the time for you to detach your emotions from the situation. Treat everyone with politeness and warmth. Your relationship with your future grandchildren is at stake.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am a 21-year-old college student who will be graduating in one year. I am white and I have a terrific boyfriend who would do anything for me. He is black.
The problem is that my parents would disown me if they found out about him. We will be graduating college together this month and plan on moving west together. My parents have no idea I even have a boyfriend and my friends think I should tell them. I know that telling them it will completely destroy my relationship with my father and that my mother will be forced to side with him.
Do you think I should continue living a lie and just move west supposedly by myself and keep my family relationship intact. My relationship to my family isnít the best anyway. However, I will be living with them this summer. Instead should I be truthful and face the consequences. Help.
The "Dear Webs" is a mixed-race family. For us, crossing color lines has not been a big step. However, one of the things we have learned about crossing lines is that not everyone can do it.
I donít think the main issue here is whether you should keep your relationship a secret from your parents. I do believe you should be honest about your relationships.
Nevertheless, I also think that you need to evaluate how much you are willing to lose over this relationship. Is the alienation of your parents worth the relationship? Is it worth putting your family through this difficulty? For some people it is worth it, for others it is not. Your beloved will also need to evaluate and make these same choices. Many black families and communities are less than thrilled when their children marry outside their race
Family is important. You will want grandparents for your babies as well as the sense of place and belonging your own family provides. You are at an age where you are feeling distant from your family. This is normal for young adults, but over time, you will want to reconnect.
No parent is thrilled when he or she hears that a beloved child is planning to play house with a member of the opposite sex. Black, white, yellow or purple, no parent wants his or her child to be in an uncommitted relationship. I would never make this step in a family relationship without having a firm marriage commitment from your beloved. Ring and date kind of commitment. One does not blow up oneís family over "playing house."
I think you need to be honest with your family, but I think you also need to truthfully and honestly look at the world you are jumping into and the world you are leaving behind.
Mixed race relationships require their own kind of work and have their own kind of baggage. Biracial children have a foot in both worlds and that can be both a positive and a negative. Those of us who live on the color line learn that life offers some additional options and closes other doors. There are places you will not be able to live; as well as people who won't associate with you. In some areas of the country mixed families are facts of life and in others they are a novelty, at best.
I am not trying to dissuade you from continuing your relationship with this young man. I am just trying to open this subject further. I am not a "love conquers all" kind of Dear Mrs. Web. Love is a good beginning, but commitment, values, family connections and friendships are what makes marriages work over the long haul.
All said, the world is changing very rapidly and interracial marriages are becoming much more common. As a culture we have come a long way in the past 30 years. On a more personal note, my family and marriage is the best and most precious thing that has ever happened to me Ė the whole mix of us Ė and I thank God every day for it.
Hairy Chest, and
I Love Him Despite....
Dear Mrs. Web,
I am 14 years old, and I don't know if there is something wrong with my body. I have a lot of hair on my body. I mean, I have almost as much chest hair as my dad, and I noticed that I am even starting to get some hair on my back I'm actually grateful that I broke my arm so I donít have to change in gym until it's healed. Kids have been making fun of me, so, do you think I should shave my chest and back?
I am going on a class trip to Washington D.C., and a girl that I like will be there too. There is a pool in the hotel, and I don't want her to see my hairy body. I am very embarrassed about this. Please write back quickly!!!
I know it is probably of little comfort to you but according to Dear Mr. Web, all the other less hairy guys are jealous of you. Donít shave, it will make matters much worse. If you are self-conscious, find a shirt you can wear around the pool and slip off quickly before going into the water. Donít wear a necklace that would call attention to your chest.
Moreover, realize that many, many women are very, very attracted to men with a lot of body hair. To some women it is a sign of virility.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I have found your site very interesting. I have a problem. I have been dating this wonderful guy for 2 years. It is an on and off relationship, we have broken up four times so far.
Although he is a great guy, he has very bad mood swings and almost a split personality. He always blames me when we have a disagreement and he flips or makes up stories just to make himself look better.
He is not very open and keeps things to himself. I have opened my heart and soul to him but he just tosses me away. These things bother me but I can accept them because I love him so much and will do anything to be with him.
I even offered to help him, whatever his diagnosis. Recently, I have a real urge to marry him so we can be together forever. Since our breakup I just can't sleep or even eat. Should I forget about him and move on or should I wait until he is better? I am so lonely, please help!!
There is an old saying: "Never marry anyone crazier than you."
You are considering a lifelong commitment to a secretive, mentally ill man? One who you describe as having severe mood swings, perhaps manic-depression, and has a "split personality?"
What are you thinking of woman? What kind of life do you think this man will provide for you and your future children? I had a mentally ill family member. Mental illness is a severe disability and to become involved with a mentally ill person and hope that he will "get better" is like expecting an amputee to re-grow legs. It isnít going to happen, and in my experience, severe mental illness often grows worse over time.
I understand you are lonely. Do not use loneliness to drive you to make poor choices that will effect the rest of your life. It is not fair to you, your family, or your future children.
Dear Mrs. Web,
I was listening to the radio recently and heard a religious broadcast about physical punishment of children. The participants actually were talking about how to choose an appropriate device to use when spanking. The show chilled me to the bone and frankly, upset me. I do not hit my kids and I think it is wrong. What do you think?
This is a difficult subject to talk about for a number of reasons. I am going to try to address it because I am seeing more letters in my email box about the topic. I donít expect everyone to agree with me, it is a controversial and emotional topic. Nevertheless, here is my opinion.
First, studies show that currently in the United States over 90% of the parents use corporal punishment at least occasionally.
This encompasses a broad range of parent, motives, and behaviors. It is unproductive and unfair to group these different behaviors together. Parents who spank are not, for the greatest part, child abusers. Some people however, define any and all corporal punishment as abuse.
I have had a number of people tell me that no child should ever be hit, and that spanking a child is abusive. I no longer agree. In my opinion, there are many ways to abuse a child. The emotional abuse some children suffer with the unchecked and sharp tongues of their parents is large and pervasive. I am not talking about ignorant or dull parents who name-call, although they certainly guilty.
I am referring to the educated and intelligent parents who are verbally abusive and or emotional hostage-takers. Parents who wrestle control or beat their childrenís souls and break their wills with crafty logical arguments, pervasive nagging, and cruel chastisements. Families where a child never measures up, or is always expected to perform flawlessly. These parents may not have laid a hand on the young one, but have caused huge pain and damage.
I have seen children who are not able to permit their hearts to really like anything, because their parents have overused consequences and revocation of privileges. They have spent too much time in parenting classes learning techniques, and not enough looking into their childís eyes or at their spirits. Anything these children would hold dear would be held over their heads in exchange for compliance. Therefore, I am not an immediate admirer of parents who announce, "I never would hit my kids." There are many ways to "hit."
At this time, in our country, there is a great reluctance to discuss corporal punishment as a disciplinary tool. Many individuals are fearful of being labeled a "child abuser" or even losing their children to the whims of their state departments of welfare. Moreover, we have all heard of overzealous state welfare workers who have disrupted families based on erroneous information or personal prejudices.
It is unfortunate this discussion taboo is in place, given the large proportion of the parents who do use physical punishment. My opinion is that since many families do use physical punishment as part of their discipline choices, parents should learn how to use it effectively, kindly, with discernment, and appropriately. They need to learn not to react in anger. Parents need to learn how to discipline themselves when using physical consequences with their children.
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