Dear Lisi: My soon-to-be in-laws are lovely people. They are very philanthropic, have loads of friends, and are well-respected in the community. But they are also demanding, controlling, and have extremely high expectations. I’m quiet and dutiful in their presence, and they have given my fiancé their blessing.
But I am not meek or passive in any way, and I have strong opinions on how I wish to live my life, as a married woman, and one day, as a mother. I’m concerned that they are going to dislike and disagree with some of my methods, and cause friction between myself and my husband down the road.
How do I pre-emptively stop the clashes before they ultimately occur?
By calling your in-laws insane, you are setting yourself up for a war. You believe you can see the future, but you can’t. I’m not saying your forecast fights won’t happen, but I am strongly suggesting you don’t create a self-fulfilling prophecy by being antagonistic and contrary.
Be yourself. Live life on your terms, as long as they coincide with your future husband’s. This is a big discussion you two should have now before the wedding. Discuss big-ticket items, such as, finances, religion, education, career, vacation, etc.
If you find that your ideas are not at all in sync, now is the time to realize you two might not be right for each other. Also, discuss what ifs: what if you two choose a path that is in direct contrast to his strong and vocal parents? What will that look like? Where will his loyalties lie?
Pre-marriage classes, where these issues are discussed and more, whether religion-based, or otherwise, can be very enlightening and helpful in the long run.
Dear Lisi: My friend is very selfish and it comes out in random moments that always take me by surprise. For example, we’ll go out to celebrate another friend’s birthday and she’ll make sure she chooses the best seat. Or we’ll go to the movies and I’ll get us seats while she gets the popcorn, but she comes back without a drink for me.
Sometimes you can’t even say anything to her because it’s so out of pocket; and when you do call her out, she always has an excuse.
Our other friends notice it too and get really mad at her. But she doesn’t seem to care, or want to change. It’s basically all about her, all the time.
How do I handle this?
It seems pretty clear that your friend isn’t really a friend at all. The basic definition of friend is, “True friends are usually those who offer you support, improve your quality of life, promote self-confidence, provide honesty and unconditional love, and help you progress mentally.”
I’m not hearing any of that in your letter. Find someone with these qualities and spend your time and effort on them.
Reader’s Commentary: “I bumped into Lisi at a community event not long ago. We were introduced by a mutual friend. I actually gushed that I read her columns daily. She was very grateful and kind, and genuinely happy to meet a reader. Later, I felt so foolish.
“The next day our mutual friend called to tell me that Lisi had contacted her to thank her for introducing us. That she was touched by my enthusiasm and hoped she had been grateful enough.
“It made me realize that we are all just human beings, looking for acceptance and encouragement every step of the way. And the best way to treat each other is as we would hope to be treated ourselves.”
Lisi — Agreed. And thank you.
FEEDBACK regarding the woman wondering what to say to her children (Sept. 4):
Reader — “I know not the topic of this letter, but this woman also needs to seek legal advice immediately.
“He said he realized while he was away that he no longer wanted to be a husband and a father, that he preferred the life of a bachelor.” But he was a husband and still is a father, so he cannot just walk away from his legal responsibilities regarding either. His financial responsibilities must come before his ‘partying ways.’
“From the emotional aspect, once he does accept that he cannot simply walk away from these responsibilities he might see his life in different light.”
Lisi — You are correct, except you are speaking from a rational mindset, and it sounds like this guy, addictions or otherwise, is irrational. But, let’s hope he figures this out for his sake and his children’s.
Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org