Dear Carolyn: My 28-year-old son, “Justin,” has been with his girlfriend, 27, for over two years. She is more than ready to get married, putting a lot of pressure on him. He, however, can’t seem to move forward.
I think, well, she must not be “the one,” because he has always looked forward to marrying and having children. They do tend to argue more than I think a young couple should.
Justin thinks living together would help answer all the questions that have kept him from proposing. He thinks it would be a nice trial run.
I am fearful. I did not feel the need for a “trial run,” and I am still married 30-plus years later. Thoughts?
– Concerned Mom
A: Living together can help couples pre-marriage, but the risk of an inertia marriage is too high to treat it as a “test.”
If she asked me, I’d beg her to rethink the pressure. A good match will want what she wants.
If Justin asked, I’d ask him: Does she know she’s a “nice trial run”?
When it’s a third party asking, my advice is generally, good luck with that. As a mom privy to her son’s thinking, though, you can call him out on his self-serving logic. Please do. He may have persuaded himself that he’s being kind to his girlfriend by looking for reasons to marry her, but he’s not. Kindness is to be prompt, honest and minimally invasive in facing one’s doubts.
In your case, once you’ve said your piece, kindness is to back off and trust him to run his own life.
Dear Carolyn: My fiancé and I are currently in the final stages of planning our dream wedding, which we have saved and paid for ourselves.
It just came to my attention that my mother has told my older sister and her children they will be in the wedding. My fiancé and I prefer a small wedding party with no children.
I have already asked my younger sister to be my maid of honor, as we are close. My older sister and I barely speak, and when we do it’s always my reaching out to her.
For the past week, my mother has been pressuring me to reach out to my older sister, who is feeling left out of the festivities. I have tried calling her on several occasions only to be hung up on. I’ve left messages without a response.
At what point do I tell my mom enough is enough, and she needs to clean up the mess she created by telling my sister and her family they all had a part in my wedding?
– Over the Drama
A: That point came the moment you learned of your mother’s meddling. Wow.
Fortunately, the moment hasn’t passed. You still can, and must, say to your mother: “You have seriously overstepped, and put me in a terrible position. We are proceeding with our wedding as planned. I will not be blackmailed.
“Meanwhile, I’ve tried to reach out to Sister 1, and she hangs up on me. I will keep trying to repair our relationship – but because I want to, not because you’re pressuring me to, and not with my wedding as a bargaining chip.”
About that wedding. I realize having Sister 2 at your side is the way these milestone events are “supposed” to go. However, you have a fractured family, which means a public kumbaya statement to one sib is a full-face slap to the other.
I’m not suggesting you blow up your plans. I merely advise that you recognize the power of your favor and grant it with a more careful eye to familywide cause and effect. If nothing else, there are children here who wound up on the wrong side of this mess. Take care not to let your frustration with Sister 1 and your mom seep into your tone with the kids.