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Seriously, the diamond in my engagement ring is way too large! I know this sounds like a humblebrag or the rant of a crazy person, but it is true. My fiancé and I have been talking marriage for a couple of years, and he proposed over the holidays. I said yes of course. He didn’t have a ring and said he was going to surprise me with one. All good so far—honestly I love this guy to the moon and back so I was thrilled. Then two weeks ago he gave me the ring. It is huge, like something one of the Real Housewives would sport, and it is just not my thing. I am not a jewelry person at all. I hadn’t given much thought to a ring, but I thought something nice and tasteful would be great. This isn’t that. I told my fiancé how I felt and he kind of shut down. But finally he admitted that he thinks the diamond needs to be bigger than the one his brother gave to his fiancée. They are super competitive and always have been. Seriously, I do not want this ring, and I don’t want to be part of a war between brothers either. I found the receipt for the ring, and it cost more than a year of my fiancé’s salary! We can’t afford this! I don’t know what to do. This is making me rethink who my fiancé is, and I’m not liking what I see. Do you see any solutions here?
What an exciting opportunity to pursue healthy conflict you have been presented with! Your fiancé presumably wishes to marry you, not his brother and sister-in-law, therefore your opinion about the engagement ring is really the only one that counts. You don’t have to let yourself get encased in diamonds just to satisfy his weird, jewel-based rivalry with his brother. “The last time I tried to talk to you about my engagement ring, you shut down, but that’s not how I want us to handle conflict in our relationship. We need to be able to talk about these things, and it’s really worrying me that you seem more concerned with showing up your brother than what I want. I don’t like this ring. I’m not interested in lugging a giant rock around that doesn’t reflect my tastes and makes me feel self-conscious, and I want to feel like my preferences are important to you. I would like to return this ring and pick out a less expensive one together. I’d also like to talk about why you felt like you ‘needed’ to buy a bigger diamond than your brother did, and the fact that you were willing to spend an entire year’s salary on it. Can we do that?” Pay attention to your feelings! If you continue to not like what you see from your fiancé even after you have a follow-up conversation, consider giving the ring back altogether. —Danny M. Lavery
From: “Help! My Fiancé Stupidly Spent a Year’s Salary on an Engagement Ring.” (April 11, 2017)
My daughter’s fourth-grade teacher is unmarried and pregnant. Although she is a fantastic educator, kids at that age are bound to ask questions and are old enough that you cannot placate them with a simple answer. I asked her teacher what she told the children about her condition. She told me that she informed them she was pregnant (she is due in June, so this was obvious) and that was it. I asked her if she planned to keep the baby. She told me that was her business alone and she is not obligated to explain her marital status or plans with her child to me or anybody else. I feel that this woman has significant exposure and influence over my child and my questions were perfectly acceptable. Should I take this to the principal or switch classrooms? My husband thinks we should drop it, but I don’t want my daughter to get the impression that single motherhood is acceptable.
As long as you were asking, I’m surprised you didn’t inquire as to her favorite sexual position. Your comments were so far over the line that the teacher’s proper and measured response to you indicates just how good she must be at handling unruly children. The lesson you want to teach your daughter is that you treat everyone with respect, so you should take your husband’s advice and drop this completely. —Emily Yoffe
From: “Help! My Daughter’s Teacher Is Knocked Up and Single.” (Feb. 27, 2012)
My husband and I have custody of his three young children, and we also have a 10-month-old girl. Thanks to a healthy divorce settlement, my husband’s ex does not work. The problem is she lives close by and often comes over in the morning to see the kids off to school. She gets in the way as I make breakfast, get the children dressed, and answer calls (I run a business from my home). She helps herself to coffee and makes comments like, “You’re so down-to-earth, living without a hairdresser. I couldn’t do it.” Last week she dropped by on her way to yoga and asked if her new Prada bag was accidentally shipped to my house. She then laughed as my daughter violently dislodged her breakfast all over me. I am so angry about her passive-aggressive tactics. My husband divorced her because of her lying, cheating, and meanness, but he tells me to accept the fact that his kids’ mom will always be around. And I do accept that! But I’m down to my last nerve with her condescending visits. Am I being unreasonable?
I’m impressed that you’ve resisted the urge to poison her coffee. There is no reason this woman should be at your house every morning. Accepting the fact that your children’s mother will always be a part of their lives does not mean you have to give her a front-row seat to your morning rituals. Having children with a man does not entitle her to check in on his new wife whenever she feels like it. Your husband needs to get on your side. She’s interfering with your ability to work and care for your children in the morning. Tell her if she wants to come by after school when things are less rushed, she can call ahead and ask but that it’s too hectic for her to stop by in the morning. If she continues to show up at your door unannounced, politely but firmly tell her that it’s not a good time, and don’t let her in. —D.L.
From: “Help! Someone I Hardly Know Asked Me to Be the Best Man at His Wedding.” (Jan. 14, 2016)
When my son was a small child, he suffered a playground accident that resulted in an injury that may have affected his chances of ever fathering a child. Because he was so young at the time, he retained no memories of the accident and subsequent operation and hospitalization. When he was growing up, I saw no reason to remind him of the incident, and the subject never came up at all. Now he is 30 years old and working very happily as a teacher. He loves children, and has been very clear from his adolescent years that he intends to have a family of his own. Recently he met and fell in love with a colleague who feels exactly the same way, and the two are planning to marry within the next year. They also plan to start making babies soon afterward. They are very excited about this. My question is, should I tell them now about his potential issues, or should I let them find out for themselves (a process that could take years)? And if I tell them, how do I broach the subject after all these years?
I hope that after your son tangled with the jungle gym (or whatever it is that happened—I will not speculate further because male readers are already wincing) that he healed just fine and all is well with the family jewels. But let’s say this young couple starts trying to conceive and nothing happens. It’s a little nutty that someone who wants to be a grandmother would let them endure this frustration while withholding crucial medical information. Your son is engaged and he and his fiancée are talking about wanting to have children, so now is the time to get the ball rolling on this conversation. Tell your son privately what happened long ago. Say that it hasn’t been relevant to his health until now, but he needs to know his history in case it does turn out there’s an issue. Then it’s up to him whether to get checked out now or let nature take its course for a while. I hope that your son is forthright with his fiancée, and that she tells him that whatever the situation turns out to be, they will figure it out as a couple. —E.Y.
From: “Help! My Husband Punishes Our Children Far Too Roughly. What Can I Do?” (Oct. 9, 2014)
More Advice From Dear Prudence
I’ve been best friends with “Claudia” for most of my life. Until recently, our 11-year-old daughters “Maggie” (mine) and “Laura” (hers) were inseparable. This spring, Maggie began hanging out with a more “popular” group of kids; some of her new friends pick on Laura.