I very much enjoy your column because it deals with unusual predicaments and concerns. My problem, which has to do with family attitudes, is perhaps not so unusual, but I’m hoping you can help me out. I am a young Jewish American woman who was brought up in a kosher home and had a strict religious upbringing. While in college I became involved with a guy who’s about as WASP as you can get. We quickly became exclusive and now, two years later, plan to be married in the near future. The problem is that my mother, whom I love dearly, is not on board. She feels I am betraying the family by “marrying out” and that my relationship with a man of a different faith more or less constitutes a sin. Before you jump to conclusions about my mother, let me be clear: she is college-educated, smart, funny, a teacher in our local day school, a frequent letter writer to the New York Times, and an accomplished fundraiser for many charities and good causes. To make matters even more complicated, she is very fond of my fiance whom she says is a good-hearted man. She just doesn’t want me to marry or have children with him. Christmas has exacerbated the problem. The fact that I will be celebrating with my fiance’s family and putting gifts under their beautiful tree has made my mother nuts. What to do? I’ve already told her that my romantic life is really none of her business and that, by age twenty-four, I can make my own decisions. Since I have a good job and pay my own way (I share an apartment with two girlfriends), she’s in no position to tell me what to do, and yet I can’t stand being on bad terms with her and crave her approval. BTW, my parents will not be paying for the wedding.
Waiting to hear from you,
Divided by Religion, Beacon, NY
First, thanks for letting me know you enjoy the column. I get lots of mail each week and it can be very difficult to sort out whose letters to publish. Yours is not an uncommon problem. Yes, my first instinct would be to advise you to tell your mother that you’re a fully capable adult who can make her own decisions and choices regarding lifestyle, religion and above all, who you will marry. But you want to be on good terms with your mother. Sadly, for a while at least, you may not be able to have it both ways. Let mom kick and scream. Does it really matter? You are embarking on your life journey and it’s totally up to you what you do and think. You love mom, but why let her have so much power? I say, go enjoy Christmas with your fiance and his family and don’t feel guilty one minute. There’s no god in the sky who can say, uh oh, drank eggnog, sang carols by the fire, got kissed under the mistletoe, you are a bad person who’ll be punished by some sort of Jewish karma. That’s not going to happen. What will happen is that your mom will eventually come around. She will certainly want to influence choices in the way you bring up your children, however, so get ready. My suggestion: let mom know you love and respect her, but opinions regarding your personal life are unwelcome unless asked for. And whatever you do, don’t play one family against the other, as in “I just love my fiance’s parents, why can’t you guys be more like them?” Follow your heart, stick to your guns, be open, honest and fair, and things will work out. Best of luck to you, and enjoy the holidays (if you can).
All the best,
REACTIONS TO PEE PEE PROBLEM
I totally sympathize with you. My husband often leaves logs for me in the toilet. Since he’s a very quiet, thoughtful man, I’ve come to assume this is one of his ways of communicating with me and to accept it. Humor is the best way to deal with the problem. It’s also effective not to place too much emphasis on it. Hope that helps.
Martha S, Toledo, Ohio
I feel for you! My husband tried that with me in the beginning of our marriage and I told him, no go, I wasn’t putting up with that shit. When he didn’t listen, I stopped cooking and that was the end of it. I think, fundamentally it’s their way of testing how much they can get away with, like little children, you know? Men are slobs and don’t care too much about the mess they make. Left to their own devices, there’s no tellin what would happen.
Cara P, Tampa, Florida
I’m a married man and my husband (of three years) doesn’t clean up after himself in the bathroom. If I harass him about it, he groans and says “I don’t need another mama.” My solution is to not share a bathroom with him and to never enter the one he uses. I make sure there’s cleaning equipment available, and that’s it, not my problem. I wish you the best.
Matthew C, Austin, TX
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.