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Home Life

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 2/20/2002

I've been with my boyfriend for seven years, and we are planning a spring wedding. Harry's a great guy, our sex life is terrific, and when things are good between us I couldn't be happier. But lately we've been fighting a lot. He says I'm not supportive. He's starting his own business, and it is completely ruling his life. He has a regular job, but when he's home he spends every minute of every night and every weekend on his computer pushing his new business. He never wants to talk about anything else and he gets really irritated when I complain about not seeing him enough. He says it is the only way he'll ever be able to make anything of himself. I'm glad he's ambitious, but I think his priorities are screwed up. My birthday is coming up soon, and he's making us postpone the celebration for a week so he can go on some business trip. And even though he assures me he can't wait till we're married, he's shown no interest at all in our wedding plans. How can I make him pay more attention to the things that matter to me?

Lonely in Love

Dear Lonely:
Oh God, oh God, oh God, I'm afraid I'm going to sound just like that awful Marabel Morgan here, but, honey, a good place to start might be to pay more attention to the things that matter to him. I know, we women aren't supposed to subjugate ourselves to our men, but we're not supposed to throw rocks at their heads either. Contrary to what you may read in your spam e-mail, starting a business is hard. And if you show him a big old whiney face every time he tries to talk to you about it, he's not going to want to look at you much. You'll get a much better response with a smile and some genuine appreciation for what he's trying to do. It's a little like with football: It doesn't matter how stupid you might think it is for grown men to run around a muddy field until they land in a heap on a ball--if your man wants to watch it, it's best to set him up with a bag of chips, kiss him on the head, then go to the movies with your gal pals. That way, when you get home, you've both had a good time and you haven't made yourselves miserable arguing about it. Also, regardless of how happy they are to be getting married, most men really don't give too big a damn about the wedding itself. They're baffled by stuff like menus and matchbooks; they just want to show up with the ring and do it.

So here's a possible compromise. You'll agree to be more encouraging about his business and to take care of the smaller wedding details if he will agree to make time to discuss the things you really need his input on, like his guest list, best man, etc., and to set aside an evening every now and then just for the two of you. Which, if you've been smiling at him, he's a lot more likely to look forward to.

I'm 15 years old and an only child. My parents are getting a divorce--Dad is moving to another state, and Mom's staying in our house. I hate it that they're splitting up, but the divorce is pretty civilized so far; they've been pretty unhappy for the last couple of years and they're getting along much better now that they've decided to end it. I guess I should be glad that they both say they want me to live with them, but I'm afraid to choose because I don't want to hurt either of them. I love my mom, but I've always gotten along better with my dad, which makes me want to go with him. On the other side, though, my friends are all here and I don't want to leave them. And I think my mom needs me more. I'm really confused and I don't want to make things any harder than they already are. Please help.

Caught in the Middle

Dear Caught:
Yikes! That's a tough decision, but if they didn't ask you, you'd probably resent them for not caring how you felt. My initial gut reaction is to recommend staying with your mom, because that's your home, it is where your friends are, and it is tough to have your family fall apart even without leaving behind everything that's comfortable and familiar. Also, chances are they're both going to want to start dating again and, for me, it would be easier to deal with my mom going out than to see my dad with some new woman my Electra complex would make me loathe on sight.

Since they're being so civilized, I suggest asking them for help. Your dad's new life is the unknown, so ask him how you'd be living: what kind of neighborhood, house or apartment, school, etc., and what he'd expect of you at home. Then, without making it a contest to see who's going to give you the best deal, ask your mom what she expects. Tell them you love them, but that you're confused and this decision is too important for you to make on your own. If you can all be open with each other, together you'll figure out the best thing to do.

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