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Week of March 18, 2001


Dear Mrs Web,

My girlfriendís birthday is coming up and I donít know what to give her. I want her to never forget the evening. Do you have any ideas?

Young women love flowers and jewelry. An attractive ring and a bouquet of roses are old and respected ways of telling a young woman you want to be forever remembered in her heart. Dear Mrs. Web still swoons when she remembers the piece of jewelry Dear Mr. Web gave her before they were married.



Dear Mrs. Web,

How do singles with children manage dating?

I think unwed and divorced parents need to separate their children completely from their dating life. Children think differently than adults and cannot understand spending time with someone then having them disappear. 

Remember how young ones react when their best friends play with others?? It is much harder for children to understand change than adults are.



Dear Mrs. Web, 

My boyfriend of 4 years told me he was invited by his cousin to go to Florida in two weeks. I think the cousin was going to be doing a lot of girl watching, partying, and going to the beaches. 

His cousin is a recently divorced and very bitter towards woman. He is 48 and I wish he would act his age. He has a real chip on his shoulders and a mouth to match.

My boyfriend said he is not going because he is too busy at work. I am hurt because he didnít discuss this with me; I was never included in their plans. Am I insecure?

I would guess you were not invited because your boyfriendís cousin invited him, not you. You were not invited because the cousin wanted to hang around with a guy and do guy things like burp andÖwellÖwhatever.

Going to Florida and girl-watch and party is how some 48-year old men act when divorced. I assure you it would not have been fun to go to Florida with a bitter divorcee. I think the important part of this whole thing is that your boyfriend chose not to go. Perhaps the two of you should plan a trip together, a honeymoon, perhaps?



Dear Mrs. Web,

Three years ago, I was about to marry a girl I had been living with for almost two years. Two months before our wedding, she left me and moved in with my brother. My family covered for him and it was almost a year before I found out about their relationship.

I moved on and am involved with another woman. We have one child together. My parents and siblings have been having two different celebrations on each holiday, one for my brother and my ex and one for my family and me. Although I have seen my brother, he has never apologized for all the grief. I refuse to be around my ex. I asked them not to include her in family functions. They have said that if she was not included I canít bring my girlfriend.

I think this is unfair. My girlfriend didnít do a terrible thing and devastate our family. My girlfriend is so angry with them for excluding her. I don't understand how my brother and my ex could have done something so bad and how I have become the family bad guy. I havenít spoken to them in six months. What should I do?

Letís see if I can help here.

I am going to start at the beginning. Your fiancťe left you for your brother. Your family covered it up. Thank goodness you were not married and had children when this happened. Frankly if your fiancťe could do this, your relationship did not have a good and firm foundation. It is better that it happened sooner than later. Your family cover-up is very sad. People usually cover up unpleasant news because they hate facing the consequences. Obviously, your family doesnít work well with relationships.

You were very hurt. In relationships people do get hurt and move on. You have a new wife - at least I hope sheís your wife - and a baby, congratulations! However, this past issue has cut your family in two and now they are placing the blame on your wife. That is much safer than blaming you.

Your former fiancťe did a wrong thing, as weak people often do. In some ways, I pity her. Nevertheless, she is now your brotherís wife, your parent's daughter-in-law, and your sister-in-law. Your children are cousins.

Your family does not manage relationships well. In order to function at all in your family you are going to have to accept and forgive what happened. They were all weak people who made self-centered choices. You wonít be able to fix who they are, or change them. However, you can change yourself to reach out to them. Will it be hard at first? You bet.

You donít have to be in the middle of your brother and his familyís lives but you can socialize occasionally at family gatherings. You can stay connected. If things ever get too crazy, you can always politely leave.

There is one other thing you can do to redeem this mess. You can be the best husband and father you can possible be to your own created family. You and your wife can set loving examples of being everything a family should be, honest, caring, open, loving, responsible, calm, forgiving and understanding.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I am dating a man who wants my 7 year old daughter and me to move into his home. He has 2 kids, 11, and 13. He has a horrible relationship with his ex-wife. They fight instead of talk. They share the custody and parenting of their children. The schedule is very erratic, depending on her work schedule. No one knows where the children will be from week to week.

He is happy with this because he gets to see his kids. The children, however, have no stability or responsibilities. Their grades are in the basement, Dís, and Fís. My daughter has a schedule with her father and our lives are scheduled and stable. I think living there would be very chaotic for us. He says he cannot change the situation, but I donít think I could manage. Please help!

There is no issue here. You would be nuts to move your daughter into a chaotic, unscheduled environment, and doubly nuts to move your daughter into someoneís life without the benefit of marriage. So, donít do it.

This man has a chaotic life, failing children, a nasty relationship with his ex, all swirling about him and he wants another family to move in? He has too much on his plate as is. How someone runs his life now is a good indication of what life with him will be like in the future. This living arrangement does not sound like a good fit for you or your daughter. It is not fair to your daughter to be placed in the chaos with uncommitted strangers.



Dear Mrs. Web,

Do men and women handle certain situations differently? An acquaintance of ours committed suicide. When I told my husband he said, "How stupid. He had everything going for him. " I quickly said that it wasnít stupid, it was sad. My husband became very quiet. Did I come on too strong?

When I state my opinion and have it overridden and corrected by someone else, I tend to get quiet too.

On some levels, both of you are right. Some men tend to look at the surface of the story and see a situation that doesnít make sense and therefore earns the label: "stupid."

Some women see the pain in the story and name it "sad." Both are opinions. We each have the right to our own opinion. You donít have to agree with an opinion, but you do have to respect it. Not the content of the opinion, but that he has it and it belongs to him.



Dear Mrs. Web, 

I love your columns! 

I am going to be marrying the man of my dreams this August. Although his parents are wonderful, I'm a little concerned about the role that they still play in his life...particularly his mother. She still does my fiancťs laundry, cooks his lunches daily, and cleans his house. What do you think?

Thank you for your kind words about my site. Please spread the word, the more visitors to Dear Mrs. Web, the more I can offer.

I would be concerned too. Have you talked to your fiancť about what he expects from you when you are both married? A man who has his mother perform these mundane daily tasks often will expect his wife to step in, or even worse, continue to have his mother do them. Have you visited my Topics to Explore Before Marriage? Find out what your future might look like now.



Dear Mrs. Web,

My friend started dating a woman, Susie. Her best friend, Jean, and I are old friends. We began dating too, more for a lack of anything better to do. I think I am attracted to Susie. She seems to really like me too. I think we are falling in love!! If I make a move, I could lose the friendships of Jean and my good buddy. What do I do?

You said you thought you and Louise are falling in love. However, you really havenít talked to her about it yet, have you? Let us not assume. Check it out.

When individuals become emotionally attached and detached such as this, problems happen. Dating and going out are, frankly, a way of shopping around. People get hurt. That is why I prefer courtship. You are going to need to decide what relationships are valuable to you and choose accordingly.



Dear Mrs. Web. 

What do you think of a person who flirts while in a relationship and the psychological profile of that person?"

I donít give psychological profiles. However, I do have an opinion about it. People who flirt, generally like or need attention from the opposite sex. Flirting can also be a way a woman gains power in a given situation. Flirting can signal availability or lack of self-control. In some areas of the country particularly the South, flirting can be part of the way women of certain classes relate to all men; it is understood there to be all in innocent good fun.

I will be frank with you, I consider any man or woman in a relationship that isnít firmly engaged (ring and date) or marriage, to be somewhat available. Therefore, I would not consider flirting totally out of line.

However, I feel that a betrothed couple and of course, married couples, have a commitment that precludes opposite-sex attention-getting maneuvers. 

A betrothed who flirts would be a poor marriage bet, because it would show lack of control and judgment. Moreover, a flirting husband or wife with a roving eye would cause great pain to a family. However, there is no reason for people who are in "relationships" or steadily seeing each other to close down their options completely.

That said, I would find a woman who flirts with others when dating some to be somewhat rude. The old "dance with the one what brung you" rule says it is best to pay attention to the one you are with now.



Week of March 11, 2001




Dear Mrs. Web


How old should someone be before marriage? My girlfriend want to wait until we are done with college, I am not too sure I want to wait this long.


Marriage? How old? I have met fifty-year-olds who are too young for marriage, as well as very mature teens. I generally go against the current received opinion and do advocate younger marriages, if the young couple have a marriage-supporting family in place. 


I do not support couples waiting two, four, or six years to complete advanced schooling, before marriage. I think it is good for a couple to work together on future goals.




Dear Mrs. Web,


My brother is dating a woman no one in our family can stand. She is self-centered, cranky, and controlling. He thinks she is just wonderful. I tried to talk to him last week after a disastrous visit. He was hurt that I had a poor opinion of her. He thinks it is my entire fault. What should I do?


Donít ever say another negative thing about her. Be kind and solicitous. Whenever she is cranky or controlling indirectly point it out, " Gee, Bertha wants us all to go daisy Ėpicking but we all want to eat lunchÖ"and drop it in his lap. 


Encourage everyone else in the family to also drop the problems they have with her into his lap. He will spend a lot of time smoothing out the way for his beloved. That is hard work.


Be kind but keep your boundaries intact around her. She will have no one to blame because she is the problem. He is going to be very uncomfortable. This may not completely work. Some totally besotted men will actually marry someone so difficult. Be nice, she may become a family member.





Dear Mrs. Web,


You occasionally mention the courtship model of romance. What exactly do you mean by that?


Courtship is a method of finding and choosing your forever life-mate. It has become popular in the conservative religious communities and is slowly spreading as teens and adults find they need a better way to develop and evaluate relationships.


Courtship requires people to get to know each other as friends within each otherís family settings. Courtship requires both participants to rely on and work with other trusted adults to discern whether this particular person would be the best person for a future marriage and family. Courtship helps people plan their futures together.


There are many forms of courtship models currently available. Some require large amount of direction and intervention by a parent or other trusted adult and others have the parents involved but not directing everything.


I like courtship because it takes the sexual pressure off. It asks you to bring potential life-mate into your home and into your life so you can assess them in the everyday, not on dates. It asks you to spend time with the person in only group settings thus keeping the sexual pressure to a minimum. Additionally, it has you talking directly to another adult or group of adults you respect and who care about you about the relationship. So, lifetime decisions are not made in a alone and in a romantic thrall.


I hope you like this introduction. There is a lot more about it out on the Internet, check my links page. My popular Topics to Explore Before Marriage is excerpted from the popular courtship introduction, Of Knights and Fair Maidens.


Courtship is becoming popular and I expect it will make a bigger impact in the coming years. I think people are tired of bouncing from relationship to relationship and marriage to marriage. Marriageable men and women are looking for ways to better ensure a lifetime commitment. We all know the old dating and serial relationship methods don't work. It is time for courtship. As usual, Dear Mrs. Web is again on the cutting edge of social change.



Dear Mrs. Web,


I have been chatting with a gentleman both online and on the telephone for 2 months. We have spent hours discussing many important life issues: personal feelings, emotions, and general life topics.


We are both divorced and neither are looking for a relationship now. We do plan to meet each other but no date has been set yet. We sometimes have problems. He sometimes thinks I am falling in love with him. He has always made a point of letting me know he does not want a relationship. I have also explained that I too am not looking for any type of relationship.


I enjoy our conversations and hope to continue. He has become a very good friend. Could he be having feelings for me and is just afraid to actually let me know the true feelings he has developed? Are we both afraid to tell each other how we are beginning to feel? Could you please help me to decide why he is so open with me and why I am so open with him and could we both be afraid of the feelings we are having for each other?


You are emotionally involved with a man you have never met face to face. You know nothing about him or his family except what he was willing to tell you. He keeps asking you whether you are having any feelings for him. You keep on saying no; weíre just friends. Then you spend the rest of the letter wondering whether there is a possibility of a future with this man who keeps telling you: "There is no future here."


Which makes me wonder why you are spending time and emotional energy on no future? You seem to be a fantasy world. When someone says nobodyís home, it doesnít matter whether the lights are on or the music is playing. They are not home to you.


You are feeling the normal feelings that happen when you open your heart to someone and become emotionally close. People do this because they want intimacy. One usually does this with people who are open to relationships. You sound lonely. When you do this with someone who wonít be going anywhere with you, the two of you are participating in mutual emotional masturbation.


I canít really answer the rest of your questions because it would be like fishing in a teacup.





Dear Mrs. Web, 


Sometimes I wish you lived in my pocket.


My boyfriend and I had a discussion where I outlined how he had disappointed me about a commitment he broke and his behavior at a party. I told him that I would not bring it up again. Since then, he apologized a couple of times, but seems to have kept his distance with me. Do you think he is upset with me?


I am afraid on your computer screen is about as close as it comes. Of course with the new hand-helds, all sorts of Dear Mrs. Web portability opens upÖ.


I donít know. Whenever a confrontation occurs in a relationship several things can happen. He could be ashamed or embarrassed about his behavior and needing to keep his distance. He could be angry that you called him on his behavior. He could also be evaluating the difference between both your value systems. 


Some men expect their girlfriends and wives to accept a certain level of acting out behavior as normal. Every time you set a boundary in a relationship, you risk. You can improve the relationship with the boundary or you can end it.




Dear Mrs. Web,


I did some stupid things at my old high school. My mom is helping me get through it. We are both seeing a counselor together too. I transferred to a different school to get a new start on my life. I am worried about beginning the new school tomorrow. I donít want to tell them about my past. Some pupils at this school are friends of students at my old school. What should I tell them if they ask about my past?


At your new high school, you say nothing about your past. If you are confronted about your past behaviors, I would say it is a lot of gossip and it hurts when it is brought up. That is the truth. Then change the subject. Have a couple of subjects thought out ahead to use to change the conversation.


Lean on your Mom. She loves you and wants you to do well. Your counselor can help you try out new ways to act with your friends. I have a lot of faith in you.




Dear Mrs. Web,

I am a 26 year-old man who has been dating a  25 year-old woman for about a year. We have talked about marriage and have not been physically intimate. I think she is the "one", but I think that dating for several more months would make our relationship stronger and give us more experiences to fall back on in our marriage.


Recently, I have realized my girlfriend does not feel the same way. She seems hurt that I have not yet popped the question. Many of our friends are in the midst of marriage preparations. Her family has a history of brief dating and short engagements before marriage. I love my girlfriend very much, but I don't want to rush into anything. Do you have any advice to offer?


I think it time for the two of you to have some frank talks about your future. Tell her your plans and hopes. Listen to her. Start with some specific planning together.

Since you are considering marrying her, would it make sense to begin an engagement? Your needs are to go slowly, and her needs are for commitment, perhaps a yearís engagement would be a good way to work to both your advantages. Her expectations are normal. A young woman who has spent almost a year of her life with a young man should expect a ring and a date.


This is a good time to check out my web page: To: Questions and Issues to Explore with Your Beloved Send me an invitation when you finally hammer everything out! 





Dear Mrs. Web,


I am a single 25 year old female. I am currently involved in a long distance relationship. The man I am seeing with travels extensively and has wanted me to travel with him and move in with him. I didn't move in with him because of my values about living together before marriage. Sometimes I don't hear from him weeks sometimes months at a time. He says that never has he cheated on me.


He said he wants to marry me in 2 years, but he then he joined the Navy! I haven't heard from him in 2 months. His family said they have heard from him once but they don't have his address. I don't think I can deal with his disappearing acts anymore. Please help me.


It sounds like you are dealing with a man who has a hard time settling down and really doesnít need to have you around much. You have become a touchstone in his life, someone he drops in on and comes back to occasionally, but really doesnít or isnít able to maintain an ongoing relationship.


Somehow your letter reminds me of the old sixties ballads about the man who disappears and comes back and cannot be tied down and the women who accept these behaviors. You know the "Someday weíll be together but I am a Traveliní ManÖ." Snore.


If you want to, you can wait around for two years, assuming you have a ring and a date. Do I think he will become more thoughtful and connected after marriage? I would doubt it.





Dear Mrs. Web,


I have been divorced for three years. My ex and I are on fine terms and both are raising our 6-year-old son together. We are both doing the best we can for him.


I have been in a caring and committed relationship for the past two years with a wonderful man. He was in an accident two months ago and has been staying with my son and me. Recently my beau and I have decided to make the living arrangements permanent. He is a wonderful communicator and listener and a good friend to my son.


This man recently disappointed my son by not being able to join us at a certain family event. He did not tell my son he could not attend until the last moment, and the boy was crestfallen. I am angry because my son is so disappointed and he could have avoided it if he had told us of the change in plans as soon as he was aware of them.


I do understand he has never had to consider these kinds of problems before; he does not have children. I'm just having a horribly difficult time forgiving him. If he had disappointed only me, I could let go. But watching the disappointment in my sonís eyes has made it next to impossible for me to let go. What should I do? 


I understand you anger and concern about how your son was treated. Your protective motherly instincts are rearing up, as they should. They are running smack into your womanly decision to permit this man into the center of your family.

Let me define our differences so you will understand what I am saying. You say you are in a "wonderful and committed relationship" with your beloved. Dear Mrs Web defines a committed relationship only one way: marriage. Everything else ends too easily and is too painful for children (and their moms and dads!).


As wonderful as this man is, he does not have the commitment or understanding that you and your ex-husband have for your son. You are right, he doesnít understand.


I am going to tell you what I would do in your situation. I would either marry the man or move him out. If I married him, I would realize that he would have a qualitatively different relationship than my ex or I would have with my son. There will be times he will hurt and disappoint my son, and these will be opportunities to teach and learn for our family. We all, in family situations, occasionally disappoint each other. Learning from these bumps in the road gives us strength of character. Marriage provides the framework to make this an acceptable risk.


In my opinion, no child should go through this kind of emotional workout with the man who is playing house with Mom. It is not fair to the child. Children need foundations to stand on when doing this sort of work. "Boyfriend" is not enough. A child does not gain strength of character in uncertain circumstances. Instead, they are confused.


Dear Mrs. Web,


This past weekend, my boyfriend went to a bachelor's party. There were dancers there of course. He called drunk and asked me to pick him up. He had a couple of bills folded in his shirt pocket so I know he gave the dancers money.


I havenít said anything about that evening, but I did not like the drinking or the dancers. Is there anything I should do or say now? He did apologize because his hangover prevented us from doing some planned activities the next day. Am I insecure or normal?


You are normal. Your boyfriend was at a party where a stripper performed. It sounds like he got seriously drunk. He even stuffed her G-string. In some circles, this is normal behavior for men. Not in mine.


You are disturbed by what occurred. This is a difference in values. Perhaps you need to look at this difference and decided whether this something you want to address. In my house if this sort of thing happened, I would have a long talk with my beloved about how I thought his behaviors affected our lives. I would hold him up to a higher moral standard.





Dear Mrs. Web,


I want a baby very much. I know this may not be the best time but a baby seems to fulfill every desire I have in life. I have experience with children. Every time I hear the word "baby," I get a warm feeling.


I wanted to have a baby with my boyfriend but he moved away. I have met another guy who helps his sister raise her baby. He loves babies too. But he is a high school drop out and doesnít have a good job or a car. My first boyfriend is moving back and now he wants a baby. Dear Mrs. Web, I donít know which guy to pick as father to my baby.


My dear, you are needy and want a baby. Babies are fun and wonderful, but they need a lot more than you can provide single-handedly. The last thing any baby needs is a unwed mother. So stop thinking of yourself and think of the others involved. That is the true mark of a mature person.


Before you make a baby realize you need a committed husband, not a boyfriend. Your baby needs two parents married and committed to each other. It is unfair to the baby to use it to make you feel good. Do the hard work, and find, and marry a good, caring man who will support you while you stay home and care for the children. Do not expect any less.


So, have a baby with the man who will stand and proclaim in a marriage ceremony that you are his wife and that he commits to raising your children together. Anyone else is just a loser.




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