Dear Abby: Wife tries to coax opinions from man aiming to please
Dear Abby: This may seem strange, but my husband is too nice. His late mother, a domineering woman who always got her way, trained him not to have an opinion. Almost everything he says is crafted to be neutral so that nobody can possibly take issue with him.
If I ask, “What do you want for dinner?” his reply is, “Whatever you want.” If I ask, “What make of car should we buy?” his reply is, “What kind would you like?” When I give him several choices, he tries to guess what I would prefer. He is a wonderful, kind, sweet man who will do anything for me.
We both have professional degrees and are in our early 30s. He lived with his parents through college. I have been on my own longer than he. I’ve told him I’m not like his mother was, and it’s safe for him to express his opinions. After two years of marriage, although I continue to solicit his opinion, not much has changed.
Abby, I am tired of being in charge of everything. I’m afraid I’ll become like his mother and just do what I want because consulting him is a waste of time, and hearing another “whatever” answer irritates me. I feel like I’m raising a very obedient child. I wanted an equal partner in marriage. How should I handle this?
— Wife, not mother
Dear Wife: I am guessing you have had more than one conversation with your husband about this. There is a saying, “Give me a child ‘til the age of 7, and he’s mine for life,” which references indoctrination. Your late mother-in-law had her son under her roof for about 25 years, so his personality traits are pretty well-cemented in. You might have better luck if you start phrasing your questions differently. (“Do you want chicken or fish tonight?” “Do you want to decide or should I punch you in the nose?”) But if that doesn’t work, you may have to accept the man you married just the way his mother made him.
Dear Abby: I am currently living with my fiancee, “Josie.” That we are a same-sex couple was hard for our families to come to terms with. (Mainly Josie’s mother.)
We are now planning a small courthouse wedding with a family dinner to follow a week later. We have made this clear to family and close friends, and nobody has taken issue with it. However, Josie’s mother thinks it “isn’t right” that we are inviting only parents to the ceremony and not siblings (Josie has one; I have three). She also called Josie crying because Josie and I went dress shopping on our own (spontaneously).
My mother is perfectly happy with all of our decisions and supportive with whatever we decide. How can we get my fiancee’s mother to be more supportive?
—Wedding drama in Pennsylvania
Dear Wedding Drama: It might be helpful to recognize that while your family is more accepting, Josie’s mother appears to be struggling on a couple of fronts. As many mothers do, she may have fantasized about a church wedding, helping her daughter select her bridal gown, and having a son-in-law. In a sense, she is grieving the death of her fantasy. Frankly, I feel sorry for the woman. With time, I am sure she will become more accepting and supportive.
You and Josie are about to embark on your lives together. Let your happiness be the beacon that guides her mother to acceptance, although it may not happen as quickly as you would wish.
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