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Bridal Gloom

By Mink Stole | Posted 9/25/2002

I'm getting married in three months to a wonderful man I've been living with for two years. The problem is that his mother loathes me. I always knew she disapproved of our "living in sin," so I thought she'd be glad we were making it legal. But when, in an attempt to please her, I asked her to help with the wedding plans, she told me we weren't entitled to a church wedding. She's especially irate that I'm planning to wear a white dress. She can't believe we're not so ashamed of our "sin" that we'd just slink off to a justice of the peace and get legal in private. I never meant to come between her and her son, but she's always made me feel so uncomfortable that he gradually stopped spending time with her. Of course, this only makes her resent me more. I've always gotten along really well with my fiancé's sister, and I've asked her to be a bridesmaid. She's going to do it, but, you guessed it, Mom's pissed off about that, too. I love my fiancé very much, we're both excited about getting married, and we both want a beautiful wedding with all of our friends and family there to share it with us. At this point we're not even sure she's going to come, which would really hurt my fiancé. Is there anything I can do to make her not hate me so much? At least until after the wedding?

Bothered Bride

Dear Bride:
The important thing to remember here is that this woman is nuts. Maybe not clinically, but no well-adjusted person sacrifices a beloved child's happiness just for the sake of maintaining her moral high ground. Therefore, it would be a total waste of time to try to reason with her. What she wants is control of her son, and she'd bitterly resent any woman he chose, be she the whore of Babylon or the Virgin Mary.

That being said, in the interests of getting her to the wedding, groveling might work. Put your pride aside, put on your very best hair shirt, and crawl on your belly through broken glass to her house. Tell her you realize you're totally responsible for any and all problems you've had but that it would break her son's heart if she didn't come to the wedding and, if she will please, please be there, you'll make sure he spends every Friday night with her--just him, not you--for the next 47 years. After the wedding, well, even though promises you are forced to make to crazy people don't really count, you might want to ship your new hubby off for dinner with her a couple of times. Then forget about her and be happy.

At 28, I am a smart single woman with a successful career that I love. I'm highly motivated and am taking classes toward a postgraduate degree. I'm well on my way to living "the good life." But I'm exhausted. I'm in my car several hours a day, have almost no free time, and have barely enough energy to brush my teeth before falling into bed. I have a few reasonably good friends I do things with on occasion, but, even though I'm considered attractive and fun, I haven't had a date in years. I want to relax, but when I do it feels like I'm just being lazy. I'm beginning to wonder whether the financial rewards I'm working so hard for are worth the sacrifice to my personal life. Is being rich and successful such a great thing if it means being lonely all the time?

Overworked and Underloved

Dear Over and Under:

There are plenty of people with big piles of dough who just love to tell the rest of us that money can't buy happiness. It's like they want us to believe that, although they spend their whole lives luxuriating in glamorous self-indulgence, flitting about in limos and jets to far-flung vacation hot spots, their innermost souls are wracked by self-doubt and desperate insecurities. Yeah, maybe, but I can't think of a single person not driven by fanatic religious compulsion who ever gave it all away just for the sake of inner peace.

Of course, money isn't everything. If it were, those of us without any would all be throwing ourselves off the closest bridge. But having enough of it sure as hell makes things easier. As Billie Holiday, who was in a position to know, said, "God bless the child who's got his own." There's nothing wrong with pursuing and succeeding in a career you love and it's admirable that you're trying to improve yourself with more education. You've just gotten so tired that you've lost perspective and fallen into a depression. You think just because you're overworked and overtired now it will always be like this, but that's not necessarily true. Once you've finished school you'll have much more free time to develop your personal life. In the meantime, give yourself a break, literally and figuratively. Take some time off and get away from your life for a few days. Do something just for fun, like a wine-tasting tour of France or tango lessons in Argentina. Or just check yourself in to the nearest full-service spa for a weekend of pampering. After all, my savvy gal pal, you can afford it.

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