Q. My long-widowed mother is dating a man whom my brother and sister can't stand. He lives in another state and they fly back and forth to see each other two or three times a year. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she said, “Plane tickets so I can go see Joe.” All the kids had already agreed to contribute to her present; however, when my siblings learned what she wanted, they refused. I can't afford to pay for the tickets myself, so what do I do? My mother is 78 years old and still quite sharp. Suggestions?
Steve: If you're right about your mom still being sharp, then I say the kids should butt out. How would they react to mom deciding who they should and shouldn't date? My view on this stuff is that when it comes to romance involving your family, you let the train wreck happen even if you see it coming beforehand. Attempts to intervene will only fail and could harm your family ties. That said, I can understand your siblings not wanting to directly contribute to what they think is a bad romance. Try to come up with another present, perhaps a nice vacation trip that your mom can take with a friend or a group.
Mia: Since you haven't said why your brother and sister can't stand this guy, it's hard for me to know if he's really bad news or not. Maybe they just don't like seeing mom date. But they certainly don't have to chip in for a present if they don't want to. Why don't you just give your mom a check for what you can afford and she can use it toward a plane ticket?
Let her know how you feel
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Q: There is this girl I like but she has a boyfriend. We attended high school together and we work together. She's been with her boyfriend for over four years, but it doesn't sound like they're getting married anytime soon. I want to come out and tell her I have feelings for her, but I'm afraid if I do and she doesn't feel the same way that the friendship will be ruined. Do you think I should let her know how I feel?
Mia: Yes, I think you should tell her how you feel. But you have to recognize that this might end your friendship. Still, I think it's better to let her know how you feel. As for how to tell her and ask her out on a date, just keep it simple. Tell her you've had feelings for her for a long time and you'd like the opportunity to spend some time together romantically. Maybe she's had the same feelings, too. You'll never know until you speak up.
Steve: If she treasures your friendship, telling her you that you have a romantic interest won't ruin it. But you need to be prepared to accept rejection if she doesn't share your romantic thoughts. First, however, ask her about her feelings for her boyfriend and where she wants that relationship to go. That may give you a clue as to whether she'll be receptive.
Marriage is a joint effort
Q: Do you think John Edwards really is the dad of that woman's baby? And do you think someone can be forgiven for something like that?
Mia: Well, if I were Elizabeth Edwards, I think John's clothes would have been out the upstairs window a long time ago. But that's the thing about marriage – you never know what's happening inside someone else's. So the truth is, some marriages survive infidelities, some don't. And there really isn't a right way to handle it.
Steve: I doubt we will ever see a paternity test. The decision to keep the marriage together has to be a joint effort and it appears Elizabeth is willing to give him a second chance and he's willing to behave after realizing he was on an ego trip.