My 10th wedding anniversary is coming up. Since the beginning of the year, my husband and I have been talking about a nice weekend getaway to celebrate. About a month ago, he came home with a football ticket given to him by a co-worker for the same weekend. I tried to remain calm and explain to him that I thought we already had plans (my mother-in-law is watching our children). I hadn’t made any reservations, but I am furious with him for doing this. If I make an issue of it, he says he’ll sell the ticket and won’t go. That makes me the bad guy. So do I rip him a new one or keep my mouth shut and accept a shortened second honeymoon? He’s fine with just going somewhere for an overnight visit and then leaving me to spend the rest of the weekend with the kids so he can go to his game. It makes me wonder if this is his way of saying that he doesn’t care about our relationship, and I am struggling to be able to air this without starting World War III.
Dear No Pass,
During football season, when my husband utters the phrase, “There’s a game on,” it has the same imperative quality that the words “You’re fully dilated” have on a maternity ward. He once excused himself in the middle of a Sunday dinner party we were hosting to flop on the couch and watch the game. Yes, he’s distracted every weekend until after the Super Bowl, but I understand it’s not personal. There are so many ways to divide the world: One is football haters vs. football fanatics; another is people who think the quality of anniversary celebrations symbolizes the entire relationship vs. those who pray on the way home from work on the night of their anniversary that the drug store still stocks Whitman’s Samplers. You sound as if you belong in the former in both categories while your husband is in the latter. I agree that he’s fumbled this occasion, but you both have a chance for a save. Traditionally, the 10th anniversary is celebrated with gifts of tin, but yours will be leaden if you insist on your husband giving up the ticket. Think of how romantic it will be to have him looking deep into your eyes and wondering how the Buccaneers are doing. Since you haven’t even booked your trip, give your husband the gift of your blessing for him to use the ticket. Then tell him his gift to you will be to reschedule his mother’s babysitting duties for another weekend, make reservations someplace great, and—while you’re on your getaway—not even think about reaching for the remote when it’s game time.
My husband, child, and I moved into a lovely neighborhood two years ago. Unfortunately, the elderly couple next door does not trust us. They have spread rumors about whether we are “really” married, possible depression, and drug use. (Some of the speculation may stem from the fact that I am pregnant and spent a trimester on bed rest.) Because of them, I do not feel comfortable being outside with my 3-year-old daughter. They’ve lectured me on children watching television and the dangers of hiring a nonfamily member to baby-sit. We don’t have available family in the area, and I meticulously screened quite a few candidates before hiring child care. Today, I’m boiling over. I was sitting on the back steps watching my daughter play, and Mr. and Mrs. Neighborly had their back door open as usual. Mr. Neighborly asked Mrs. Neighborly to make sure my daughter wasn’t alone in the yard. After Mrs. Neighborly went inside, she began an immediate monologue about my parenting style. I am so frustrated that I avoid block parties, walks, sitting on the front porch—all of the family-centered things that attracted us to this area in the first place. A fence is an obvious solution, but the latest quotes are pretty steep. Any suggestions?
Stop letting this pair of old cranks get to you. Listen to how defensive you are about hiring a nonfamily member as a baby sitter just because you got an uninvited lecture from these intrusive nuts! A fence sounds like a great idea, but if you can’t afford one, build your own invisible fence. When you’re outside, bring a radio, if you must, to drown out their monologues from their back door. If they try to harangue you directly, say, “I’m sorry, I’m not in the market for advice and I’m busy with my daughter right now, so please excuse me.” Ignore them while you go to the block parties, take walks, and use your front porch. Surely everyone else in the neighborhood has been enduring and avoiding them for years. By this point, the rest of your neighbors are probably wondering why you’re so standoffish. So stop giving credence to Mr. and Mrs. Nasty’s tales about you, and enjoy your lovely neighborhood.
When my husband and I met 5 years ago, I told him I was 31. I was really 36. We married one year later. When we met, I was feeling free and rejuvenated after the end of a long and difficult relationship. I was traveling around America with younger friends and wanted to be a fresher, younger me. I was very insecure, felt I had “wasted” time with my ex, and was partying hard after our breakup to drown my sorrows. I am basically a very honest person and have shared all other aspects of my life with my husband. My mother and grandmother both lied about their ages and don’t celebrate birthday milestones. My husband doesn’t check paperwork, but I really need to tell him my true age. He hasn’t been the most forgiving in other situations, but we have a loving relationship now. How do I explain my mistake?
—Happy But a Little Older
You could tell your husband you’ve got good news—it’s actually only 26, not 31, years until you can start collecting Social Security. You could also point to the example of John and Cindy McCain. When they met, she added four years to her age to seem more mature, and he subtracted four years to seem less superannuated. They found out the truth when they applied for the marriage license. This is a tough one because while your lie is a only a misdemeanor, it has gone uncorrected for five years, and it’s the kind of thing that makes the person hearing it wonder if there’s anything else you haven’t been honest about. There’s really nothing to do but tell him. Don’t try to justify this mistake with the rigmarole about recapturing the years you wasted on a bad relationship. Just explain that, like a lot of people, you wanted to seem a few years younger, and since then you’ve been too embarrassed to correct the record. Say that since you have such an honest and open relationship, you needed to come clean because you hate not having told him the truth. It’s too silly a thing for him not to forgive you, and, besides, he should be happy that you’re aging even better than he imagined.
Over the summer, my roommate and I went on vacation together. A few days before the
trip, I had an excruciating toothache and needed to get my wisdom tooth out. Upon hearing about my scheduled procedure, her reaction was, “How could you! You’ll still be up to party, right?” I felt bad backing out of the trip, so I boarded the plane just hours after the tooth was extracted. We went out on the town the first night and came home at 1 a.m. (much to her chagrin). The second night, I accidentally overdosed on my painkillers and only stayed out because I didn’t want her to be drunk and alone in the city. But by 2:30 a.m., I was fed up and told her I needed to go back. She came home at 10 the next morning. When we discussed what happened, she argued that she spent her hard-earned money on this vacation and thought it was unfair of me to ruin it. My argument was that I’d taken care of her drunk ass more times than I could count and hoped she would return the favor once. We agreed to disagree and pushed the matter aside for the sake of our friendship. We still live together and are good friends, but I’ve been distancing myself from her and know I will never want to party or vacation with her again. Am I being too hard on her?
—A Little Less Wise
Dear A Little,
Thank you for another chance to express my puritanical views on demon rum. I have been taken to task by readers for my disdain of the notion that a good time includes getting so blotto that people put themselves in all kinds of danger (not that they’d remember half of what they did or was done to them). Your girlfriend was furious that after spending all that money to go someplace presumably interesting and beautiful, you weren’t well enough to stay out all night bar-hopping. I think you should have asked her why, if her idea of fun is tossing back shots with a bunch of strangers, she didn’t save her money by staying home and doing it at the local pub. At the risk of sounding like Carrie Nation, someone who thinks a successful evening means stumbling home after breakfast service has ended is someone with an alcohol problem. Apart from her drinking, she’s also selfish and unsympathetic. If she asks about your coolness, tell her that while you very much value her friendship and enjoy her company, the trip has made you realize you have different ideas about socializing, and that, at the least, you don’t want to rescue her from any more alcohol-related adventures.