wedding advice from Dear Prudence.
wedding advice from Dear Prudence.

wedding advice from Dear Prudence.

Dear Prudence,

My ex-husband surprised me with a really extravagant engagement ring. We married less than a year into our engagement. Eight months later we separated, and after living on opposite coasts for two years with very little contact, we divorced. No hard feelings, but it didn’t end well, and we don’t keep in touch. Fast forward several years and my current boyfriend and I are talking about marriage but are not officially engaged yet. We’re both pretty practical, so I suggested reusing my old engagement ring and wedding band. I love the set and barely got to wear it. I also don’t have any strong emotions surrounding it. It’s just a beautiful set that has been sitting in a drawer collecting dust for years. My boyfriend initially liked the idea and seemed relieved since we have a million other things on which our money would be better spent.

The problem is that our friends and my family have declared that this is “creepy” and bad luck. My mom told my sister that she thinks my boyfriend is being a “cheapo” and that it’s tacky to reuse a diamond. I feel like this is an overreaction, but now my boyfriend is beginning to feel self-conscious about all the criticism, which is unfairly being lobbed at him considering this was my idea. We’ve agreed that we definitely want to wear rings when we get married, and although we can buy something else for less, I want to wear it, and free fits our budget. I won’t say this to him in case we go another way, but I also worry that I’ll always look down at a new ring and think longingly about the eye-popping beauty going to waste in the drawer. I feel like that’s worse than reclaiming an ex’s ring. What say you? Would you feel creeped out by hearing a friend say they were recycling a bridal set?

If you don’t care, and your boyfriend doesn’t care (or didn’t, before the criticism started), use the rings and refuse to engage in any discussion of them. Your friends and family won’t keep it up for the rest of their lives.

If your boyfriend is now overly creeped out, I suggest he take the rings to a jeweler and spend a small chunk of change making them his own. The engagement stone(s) can go in a new setting, and the wedding band can be engraved with your names. Wedding bands are all the same anyway.

It’s not creepy. It’s not bad juju. The only power these rings have is the emotions they create in you (which appear to be nonexistent). It’s financially smart, and you have my complete blessing to use them in their current state or remake them into something equally beautiful but unrecognizable. If you opt for the former, a simple “Are you still hung up on this? We’re kind of tired of talking about it” should do the trick.—Nicole Cliffe

From: Help! My Friend and His Girlfriend Plan to Have Her Marry a Rich Guy to Pay Off Her Loans. (Nov. 21, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

A good friend, “Liz” and I went to the same college, where we developed a very close-knit group of friends. Liz and our friend “Greg” drunkenly hooked up freshman year, and Liz developed a bit of an infatuation, though Greg did not return those feelings. Now we’re all juniors and Liz is seeing the same guy she resorted to after Greg. Unexpectedly, Greg and I developed strong feelings for each other, and we really would like to have an honest relationship, but we fear how our friends will react to being left in the dark, especially since we have long discouraged relationships in the circle, and I especially fear losing Liz as a friend. On one hand, I shouldn’t have gotten involved with Greg knowing how she felt, but on the other, it’s been two years, she has a boyfriend she seems content with, and that should leave Greg as fair game. I feel like I have to make a choice between my best friends and a man that I could really see myself being with, and I’m not sure which I would rather give up.

I understand that romance within a gang alters the dynamic. But for goodness’ sake, how are young people supposed to get experience at intimate relationships (beyond being friends with benefits) and find people with whom to have these relationships if coupling up is verboten? You are all young adults, so you do not need permission from the group to pursue your attraction. Liz had an unfortunate one-night stand with Greg. This does not make Greg her subject, and no one has to seek Liz’s permission to date Greg. You and Greg should do what you want, and see how you feel. You’ll know when it’s time for the big reveal, and let’s hope when it comes, the group just says, mazel tov! But if Liz wants to have a snit, she should talk out her hurt feelings with her own boyfriend.—Emily Yoffe

From: Help! My Husband Won’t Stop Making Crude Jokes in Front of Me. (July 15, 2014)

Dear Prudence,

Visiting my mother for the holidays was uncomfortable this year. My children, ages 8 to 12, are polite and well-spoken, but my mother uses the same tone with them as with her dog when it has an accident on the rug. Unless every chore is done to her exact instructions, she criticizes. My son gets yelled at for throwing a banana peel in the garbage rather using the garbage disposal. (“It will stink up the trash can.”) My youngest didn’t fill the ice tray all the way. My daughter eats too fast, doesn’t dress warm enough, doesn’t make the bed the right way, etc.
I have cut off my mother when she criticizes my kids and try to redirect the conversation, but it has been a constant this trip. We live on the opposite coast, so flying out is a huge expense. I asked my mother privately to lighten up and please enjoy us being here, but her response is that there is no point in trying if you aren’t going to do it right. She expected “more” from me as a mother. This entire trip has left a sour taste in my mouth. Am I awful if I don’t want to do this again? At least flying my mother out lets me push her on to my aunts who live nearby. My in-laws never treat my kids this way.

No. Spend next year with your in-laws. Spend future years with no extended family at all. If you feel so inclined, fly her out and push her off on your aunts—assuming your aunts are willing—once every couple of years, but cut way back on the visits to her house. It doesn’t sound like anybody is enjoying them.—Danny M. Lavery

From: Help! My Sister-in-Law Called Me a Baby Murderer, and My Husband Looked the Other Way. (Jan. 7, 2019)

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I moved across the country for his work. I hated the area. I became socially isolated, depressed, and venomous in my marriage. I recognized my part in a stressful relationship, sought therapy, found a new job. Our relationship did not improve. I asked if there was another woman. He said, “No.” A week later he came home one night, got drunk, and fell asleep on the couch with a death grip on his phone. I broke the cardinal rule of privacy and found out I was right: He was having an affair with someone at work. I packed up and left for a week. It was awful. I came back on the condition that he was not going to maintain any kind of personal relationship with that woman. Four months later, and of course they are “friends” now. My position is that with friends like that, who needs enemies; she’s on my permanent black-ball list. His position is that he is not doing anything wrong. There’s got to be a better compromise than “stop talking to her or we are getting divorced.”

I don’t believe that there is much of a compromise to be found between “stop having an affair” and “continue having an affair,” because, of course, your husband is almost certainly continuing his affair. He didn’t originally confess his affair to you; you found out about it. After you tried to leave, he broke the only promise he made to you about staying in contact with her. Now that you’re protesting his “friendship” with his ex, he’s digging in his heels and insisting he’s in the clear. He’s great at getting you to compromise, but it doesn’t sound like he has much interest in doing any compromising himself. (For what it’s worth, while I’m still against spouses going through their partner’s phones, I realize you had been pushed to the limit by his refusal to discuss the problems in your marriage.)

At no point in this process has your husband pursued honesty. He has always had to be blackmailed into it. He has made no gesture to you that would give me hope he would listen to your concerns and keep his promises in the future. Based on his past behavior, it seems extremely likely that he will continue to come home late, maintain whatever type of relationship he chooses with the woman he cheated with, and do exactly as he pleases without compromise until you decide to leave for good.

From: Help! I Caught My Fiancé With His Sister. (May 5, 2016)

More Dear Prudence

I recently caught my fiancé and his sister together and broke up with him. I’d always gotten a strange feeling about their closeness, but I didn’t believe it until I saw with my own eyes. To my family and friends, it seems like I woke up one morning and decided not to get married. Everyone is pushing me to work things out with my fiancé. Initially, I wanted to keep what I saw between them and me. If I tell people they have an incestuous relationship, it would probably destroy their lives. I’m worried I will seem spiteful if I tell even a few trusted loved ones the real reason I called off the wedding. At the same time, I’m heartbroken too and don’t know how much longer I can handle lectures about “letting a good man get away.” Should I stay quiet or speak up?

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