“I’m Scared My Boyfriend’s Going to Propose!”

I am 20 years old and my boyfriend is 22. We have been together for six years now! Lately, he has been hinting that he’s going to propose. I don’t know how I feel about this. I love him and we have a great friendship (we’ve known each other since elementary!), but there are some issues. First of all, he has a job where he works only in the summer and during the winter he doesn’t even bother looking for another job. He dropped out of high school and hasn’t received his GED. I graduated high school, I’m attending college and have a fulltime job. Also, I dont really want to have sex with him anymore and I don’t really feel attracted to him. The thought of him proposing scares me I dont know what I would say. I dont want to hurt him. Help! — Scared of a Proposal

You’ve been dating this guy since you were 14, so I can understand how the thought of not being his girlfriend seems very foreign. But, at this point, you are his girlfriend in name only, and truly more like a friend in reality. Pull the cord on this relationship and give each other the gift of a clean slate and the chance to be available to more fulfilling opportunities and relationships in the future.

My loving husband and I have a great marriage, and two wonderful daughters. We are extremely close to my family, who all love my husband like an adopted brother, but we barely talk to my husband’s father, who, since we moved out of state, has seen his son and granddaughters maybe once every three years. The reason for this is simple: my husband was abused by his father as a child. As an adult, he wants very little to do with the man.

When we were first married, I very much agreed with my husband on this point (and we never left our daughters alone with their grandfather), but in recent years, my father-in-law has been taking medication to treat his violent rages. He is definitely much improved. But my husband still wants very little contact with his father.

I haven’t pushed my husband for any closer relationship with his father, because I do feel this is his decision, but I do feel bad that this grandfather barely has a relationship with his granddaughters. — Loving Wife

It’s wonderful that your FIL is seeking treatment for his violent rages and hopefully, moving forward, he will find more peace in his life and the ability to maintain healthier relationships. However, the scars of the past will never be erased and you need to support your husband’s desire to keep distance between himself and his father, and especially his daughters and their grandfather. I bet they are lucky enough to have an abundance of love in their lives and if they never get to know their grandfather well as children, they’ll still have strong relationships with other family members, and may even have the chance one day to forge a relationship with the man it was too painful for their father to let them know well as kids.

I’ve been seeing this guy for two months. He’s as into me as I am into him. He’s in the army reserves and in addition to just becoming a commercial appraiser. I understand he works a lot. And when he’s done he is tired. I barely see him though, and he continues to tell me, “It won’t be like this forever, Gorgeous girl.” I believe him, but I need the right words to let him know that although he is my creme de la creme and I don’t want to give up on us, I can’t wait around forever. — Eager for His Time

Say: “You’re a great guy and I love your company when you have the time to spend with me. I can see us being happy together, but I’m looking for someone who has more room in his life for a relationship. Please let me know when/if your schedule opens up a bit more and if I’m still single then, I hope we can realize the potential I think we have.”


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. artsygirl says:

    LW1 – get out of the relationship now. It might seem scary since this person has been a constant in your life for basically your whole life, but people can grow up and apart. He is obviously not the man for you and staying in a relationship because it is ‘safe’ and what you know is not fair to him or to you.

  2. kerrycontrary says:

    LW3: My boyfriend works full-time (10-11 hour work days on average) and is also in the reserves. We were long distance for 2.5 years. He made time for me from the beginning even with his demanding schedule. It’s all about priorities. Yes, sometimes we lay around like slugs on Friday nights because we are exhausted, but he still makes time for me. We always worked our relationship around his reserves schedule (God I hate drill!! screws up holidays and birthdays and everything in between), but it’s really not that difficult if someone plans out their schedule well.

    1. I have a question about that. How did you navigate it in the early days of dating? I have a pretty busy schedule and I find it difficult to make time for “dates”… but if I was in an established relationship it would be easier because I could say, “Hey come over and watch a movie with me” or “Hang out while I study.” As it is, I feel a lot of times that when I get a free moment I need to spend it by myself to unwind.

      1. kerrycontrary says:

        Since we were long-distance it was like the week days were our individual time. Time for me to go to grad school/work 20 hours a week/get all my homework done/see friends. And then the weekends were time with him. I mean if you are watching a movie with someone that’s like an hour and a half at least, so that still translates to an hour and a half you can go out to dinner. Or grab an afternoon coffee. We’ve been together over 3 years and we still go on proper dates because I get bored just hanging around. I understand needing to unwind alone, I can have my very introverted moments. But maybe try taking some unnecessary things out of your schedule if possible? You have to make room for someone else in your life someway or another.

      2. Yeahhh, but see if I go out in public then I have to, like, wear clothes and stuff.

      3. I can relate to this so much and this is the problem that I’m having. I’d like to be in a relationship now but after spending at least 8 hours at work and an hour in the gym, and then having to do chores/laundry and make dinner I’m just exhausted and don’t feel like reading through profiles and thinking of a clever message to send. I know I need to put more effort into dating but as it is I’ve only averaged about one date a month.

      4. SpaceySteph says:

        Oh my gosh internet dating was exhausting! I don’t really have any advice for fitting it in, just commiserating… After a couple months of it, I gave up.

      5. SpaceySteph says:

        Also just saw you’re a guy and realize it must be 10+ times harder to do that as a guy than as a girl. As a woman you can (if you choose) do internet dating mostly passively, but the stereotypes exist and even online guys make the first move most of the time. So, bottom line, I sympathize.

      6. I work full time, M – F, 8:30 – 5. M – Th I go to class right after work and I’m there until 9 or 10. When the weekend rolls around, I usually need that time to rest, study, and clean. It sucks. I’m supposed to have a date tonight but I feel like canceling just because I’m tired and I’d rather lay around in jammies and eat ice cream.

  3. LW 1…I was in the same situation as you when i just graduated highschool…i had been dating this guy for a few years and at best he would get a part time job…did not graduate highschool himself and basically allowed his parents to continue to support him…the last straw was when he said “i can’t wait till you graduate university, get a high paying job and then i can be a stay at home husband”…it was such a turn off that this guy (who i had no intention of marrying) just assumed that i was going to support his a$$!…that i was killing myself going to university full time while working a part time job to help pay for my education….that this guy thought i would just support him! ugh! needless to say we did not end up getting married!

  4. I like Wendy’s answer for LW1 a lot—basically, yeah. I understand this guy is all you’ve known, but not wanting to have sex with him, dreading a further commitment, & resenting his status in live are all signs you should MOA.

    LW2: Look, the man may be your father-in-law & the grandfather to your children, BUT you never had to endure his abuse like your husband has. You’ll never know the extent of his scars, & I’m sure his reasons for limiting contact are very valid. In short—it’s not your place to push him in this matter.

    LW3: WWS. And WKCS—if he wanted to make you his priority, he would. Don’t feel bad about wanting more from a relationship.

  5. Older and (hopefully) wiser says:

    LW#2 Kharma’s a bitch.

    1. 5oclock charley says:

      Kharma is most definitely a bitch, which is why I am a big fan of forgiveness. All of us done things in our past that we are not proud of. If we all got the punishment we deserved, I think this would be a pretty miserable world.

      LW#2 shouldn’t push her husband into anything, but if the FIL has truly and permanantly changed, then perhaps making new and positive memories with his father might help lessen the hurt from the old ones. But it can’t be rushed or forced.

      1. And the decision on whether or not that’s feasible is 110% the husband’s!

      2. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Only somebody who has never been abused could post such pie in the sky absurdity… Sure, all of us have done things in the past we’re not proud of. But very few of us have ever deliberately and routinely abused any children for years and years…

      3. WBGMS.

        there are some things that dont need to be forgiven.

      4. Not to mention, one can forgive in the sense of letting go of anger…and STILL not want to have anything to do with their abuser. Forgiveness =/= instant healthy relationship.

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        For real. Forgive somebody for ditching your party or making out with your sister – not abusing you or your spouse. Wtf.

      6. WBGMS x 2

      7. <3 you BGM

      8. iseeshiny says:

        All of us probably have done things in our past that we are not proud of, but hopefully all of us have not been child abusers.

        Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. It’s what we do when we say, that person did something shitty to me, and rather than do something shitty back I am going to let go of my anger and resentment and live my life with joy. It’s about breaking the cycle of shitty things. It does not mean pretending nothing ever happened, and it doesn’t mean putting the wishes of the people who hurt us over our wish to not be hurt by them again.

  6. LW1- even if you did want to marry him and were weary of the timing of the proposal, you would still need to talk to him. engagements shouldnt be a surprise. it should be a decision that both partners come into agreement, after discussing things like timing, ect. but you dont even want to marry him anyway- so OF COURSE you need to talk to him, and more specifically, break up with him.

    LW2- yea, this is not your place or decision. its all well and good that the dad is seeking treatment, but nothing can erase the entire LIFETIME that your husband endured. seriously, think about that. besides, treatment or not, you have no idea what he is capable of. i wouldnt ever want someone around my children who my own husband so fervently didnt want around them. you seem to be giving the father a TON of the benefit of the doubt, and giving no voice to you husband, who you know, you married, and who actually had to deal with his father. thats messed up.

    LW3- you either choose to accept the time he can give you, or you move on. simple.

    ps- im really sad i didnt look at the deleted thread late last night. i woke up wanting to read over it and i was like oh wait fml it was a deleted one. dang it!

    pss. MY CATS SNUGGLED TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!! sure, it was only for a few minutes. and, also, sure it was sort of one cat snuggling with the other, not really a two-cat thing, but OMG YOU GUYS! this has been my dream since i got Leo. this is my christmas miracle 2011. bonus- i got it on my camera, i posted it to instagram and facebook! also, thank you to my boss who let me work from home today.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Same here about the deleted thread. My night SUCKED. Glad to hear about your kitties!

      1. LBH! Why did your night suck?

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. She went into the hospital a couple days ago, so I stopped there to check on her before I was supposed to go to dinner (where I was pretty sure I might be getting engaged) and the doctors came in and told us. Needless to say, it was an awful night. My grandfather (her husband) has Alzheimers which adds to how horrible this is, because every 5 minutes, he asks for her and we have to tell him all over again, so he basically cries for 5 minutes, forgets and asks again. Hoping you guys can send some prayers or thoughts their way.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        🙁 Y’all are definitely on my good vibes list. If I can help/support in any way, let me know!

      4. lets_be_honest says:

        thanks GG.

      5. Oh, yuck, I’m so sorry!

        One of the things I’ve heard/read about Alzheimer’s patients is that it’s better to maybe lie to the person rather than have them experience the horrible trauma for the first time all over again. Instead of continually reminding your grandfather that his wife has cancer, maybe just tell him she’s away right now and will be home soon, or that she’s with the doctor and the doctor is helping her.

        I don’t know the situation, obviously, so YMMV. Good thoughts sent!

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I’ve heard that too and wanted to discuss it with my family today when I get back over to the hospital. Seems like unnecessary heartache. He’s already so confused that she isn’t home with him. Thanks for your thoughts.

      7. Awww… I’m sorry 🙁

      8. Aw, that’s so sad! I’m sorry to hear, LBH 🙁 I’ll definitely keep you & your family in my thoughts.

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        thanks guys. I really appreciate it.

      10. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I’m so sorry, LBH. I hope your grandmother gets the best treatment and is as comfortable as possible. I second what MJ says about lying to your grandfather, there just seems no reason to give him that news repeatedly, it isn’t going to help him.

      11. Oh LBH, I’m so very sorry. That so rough.

      12. I’m sorry about your grandparents. 🙁

        …..can we hear more about this almost-engagement, though? 😉

      13. lets_be_honest says:

        Thanks cats.
        He knows I’m ready to say yes finally. His mom recently left a ring out on the table that I tried on and it fit, which she was happy about. Then he made a comment about not going on a trip next month bc we’ve been spending a lot lately, which was just out of character for him to say. Then he went out the other night to get something and came back without it and acted all weird when I asked about it. I can’t really interpret anything as strange for last night since it was obviously not a normal night, but he had been very excited about going to my favorite restaurant and valentines in general. Could totally be nothing at all, just seemed like it.

      14. Well, in any case, it sounds like it’s bound to happen soon! Awesome.

      15. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, its coming up. It’ll still be an exciting “surprise” when it does though.

      16. Aww. I’m sorry to hear that. I posted in the deleted thread but instead of a down vote I wish I had an “Internet hug” button for you.

      17. lets_be_honest says:

        Thanks so much. All of you guys.

      18. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Yes, grandparent’s illnesses are are hard to get through. Hugs, LBH.

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        Thanks Mark. You guys are a great comfort.

      20. So sorry to hear this.

      21. lets_be_honest says:

        thanks so much Wendy.

      22. Aw I’m so sorry. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

      23. So sorry, LBH. What a sad situation for your whole family.

      24. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Oh LBH that is very sad. I’m really sorry.

      25. lets_be_honest says:

        Thanks addie. And all of you. It sucks a lot, glad this is keeping my mind off it in between hospital trips, working and a flood of phone calls.

      26. iseeshiny says:

        Oh, that sounds terrible. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this.

    2. Agree about the deleted thread! I was on when I got home from work, but then I didn’t get to check it again 🙁

    3. I checked it around 8- I didn’t see anything too crazy!

      katie- it is my goal in life for my cats to snuggle. I’m jealous. Once mine touched butts. They were both laying on the bed facing opposite directions, and I shoved them together. That’s the closest I’ve gotten.

      1. haha.. yea, mine have been slowly (very very slowly) merging their spaces. it started with them not able to be in the same house, then they were ok being in seperate rooms, ect, ect, until now! so dont loose hope. try to feed them near each other. try to get them to play together, or near each other.

        mine have also recently started wrestling! and i think they enjoy it! no more hissing.

        oh also, ive been giving Zoe (the neurotic crazy anxiety one) rescue remedy every day since christmas time.

      2. They get fed right next to eachother, and they play with eachother every day. Well, Fuji tried to play, and Calzo wants none of it. I just don’t thinks snuggling is in the cards. 🙁

      3. well, just keep up hope. i have had the second one since october 2011, and just in the last like 3 months they have showed signs of physical closeness…

      4. My boys have lived together for about 4 years now… So I think the chances are slim to none. My requirement for my next cat is that is has to be a snuggle whore 🙂

      5. It took about a year for my older cat to allow the kitten to cuddle her. Even after that, the kitten would curl up with my older cat and try to groom her, and my older cat would just “put up with it”. It was kinda funny to see my kitten give the older cat a spit mohawk (even if she did get a bite after)… hahaha.

  7. LW2: I cannot reiterate enough Wendy’s advice to essentially butt out! No matter how understanding you’ve been towards your husband, you will never understand what he has endured. As the spouse of a husband whose father is a raging alcoholic who abandoned him when he was a toddler, I just need to say that it’s not your place. I have to say that I actually think it’s a little odd that you would want to push a relationship considering the way this “man” treated your husband.

  8. LW1: If you’re not attracted to this guy anymore and have a laundry list of things you don’t like about him, then you shouldn’t be with him, especially if he’s clearly planning a future with you that you don’t want. Break up with him before he gets the chance to propose and save both of you the embarrassment.

    LW2: Don’t feel bad for the grandfather. I realize that he is apparently mentally ill, but if he wanted to have a relationship with his son and future grandchildren, then he shouldn’t have abused him. It’s your husband’s decision, and I think he made a perfectly reasonable one.

    LW3: Just move on. You’ve only been dating for two months, so you really have no reason to believe this guy. Maybe he is busy, but if he was as into you as you are into him, then he would actually be making an effort to see you. Plenty of people are busy and still make it work.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      lw3, its very possible he just is that busy, but clearly that isn’t working for the lw. My brother is crazy busy and girls he dates are always bothered by this even though he makes it clear up front that he won’t be around much. I don’t get it. If someone tells you they are X, just believe them and either accept it or moa.

  9. iseeshiny says:

    LW 2: Yeah, it would be really uncool if you were to try and force someone else to forgive an abuser. I know the urge is coming from a place of love and concern, but your husband is the one who deserves your support. And by support, I mean letting him dictate the terms of the relationship.

    1. iseeshiny says:

      Unless he was opting for more closeness than you were comfortable with and you were worried about your daughters or something. But that’s the only sort of interference I think needs to be run.

  10. “It won’t be like this forever, Gorgeous girl.” Eww…it sounds condescending and kinda smarmy (and reminds me of my worst ever ex).

    1. i am really hoping that was a badly-done way of her hiding her name.. like, he actually said “it wont be like this forever, sally.” and she changed it

      im hoping.

    2. Ha. Well she called him her “creme de la creme” and that’s not much better.

      1. I did see that. And I also thought it was gross.

    3. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Oh, the horrors of being called a “gorgeous girl.” Honestly, can men on here EVER win? Seriously? C’mon…

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Definitely agree on this one. I love getting compliments. It makes my whole week to hear something like that. Why in the world is that condescending?

      2. I dated a guy who used this pet name. And believe me, in context of his view towards women, it *wasn’t* nice. It was more like, “If I keep complimenting your looks maybe you won’t notice that the other stuff coming out of my mouth is bullshit.” This LW’s guy sounds like he’s trying to evade real commitment.

      3. I agree— there’s a difference between saying “You are a gorgeous girl” (a compliment!) & replacing someone’s actual name with “Gorgeous Girl”. The latter seems to have a habit that (to use your word, Desiree) swarmy guys have.

      4. iseeshiny says:

        Except for Billy Shipton in that episode of Doctor Who with Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow. That was absolutely charming and no one can change my mind.

      5. Exactly!

      6. Eagle Eye says:

        My boyfriend calls me his pretty lady – which I think is basically the best thing ever! 🙂

      7. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Mine does too…I love it!

      8. I think it’s the context. I’ve never gotten as many compliments, particularly about my appearance, as when a guy is either breaking up with me or trying to convince me that he’s not an ass.

        With this, it’s like, “Hey, I am not going to spend any time with you, but if I tell you you’re gorgeous, that should keep you around.”

  11. I don’t get the sense that LW2 is pushing, forcing, or expecting her husband to forgive his father – all she said is that she feels bad that her granddaughters barely know their grandfather, which is an understandable perspective considering he’s much improved. She even said she does “feel that this is his decision.” So I’m a little surprised to see some harsher reactions to her above. (Not Wendy’s.)

    What she needs is not to be told to butt out, but a gentle reminder that her husband’s reasons for keeping the separation there are likely sound, even if she doesn’t understand them firsthand, and that in this instance he probably knows best. Not knowing one’s grandfather is sort of shame, but also not the worst thing in the world. I barely knew my maternal grandfather because my mom’s parents both lived overseas, visits were very rare, and he spoke no English (refused to learn it). On some level it’s sad, but it really hasn’t had a huge impact on my life. I can understand that if you come from a very tight-knit family, the thought of someone being purposefully excluded is a bit foreign and uncomfortable — I know my husband’s family is much tighter than mine, and when someone is missing from a family holiday or something, that’s alllll that gets talked about — but I don’t think the LW needs to worry that it will be a negative thing for her daughters in the long run.

    1. Yes, but at the point the husband is against it, it is absolutely not the LW’s position to even comment on whether or not a relationship between her daugthers and their grandfather is okay. From the sounds of it, the grandfather viciously beat the LW’s husband for the majority of his childhood; it is unbelievable to me that the LW is even considering pushing a relationship when her husband is (understandably) against it.

      1. Agree, BecBoo. A good friend of mine was abused by her brother from the time she was 5 to the time she was 14 (in this case sexual, but still). I can’t even get into the legal ridiculousness (everyone who was an adult essentially made excuses/permitted visitations, etc). Everyone also blamed his drug use. He got older, got off drugs, had kids – and abused both of them. I just do NOT believe for 1 second that an abuser stops abusing. There are plenty of folks who have alcohol and drug and anger issues – and DON’T hurt others. Statistically speaking, abusers don’t change. Ever.

      2. I get that but WHERE are you guys getting any sense of “pushing”? Seriously!
        These were her exact words:
        “I haven’t pushed my husband for any closer relationship with his father, because I do feel this is his decision, but I do feel bad that this grandfather barely has a relationship with his granddaughters.”

        Taking her at her word, this indicates to me that as of now, her ambivalence about Angry Granddad is private – that she is not commenting, or pushing, or pursuading, or stomping her feet over it. “I do feel bad.” That’s it. While I agree with you, and the LW, that it would be a bad move to push the issue in anyway, I disagree that she’s not allowed to have mixed feelings about the issue, and I can totally believe why she might reach out for reassurance that she’s doing the right thing.

      3. iseeshiny says:

        I got the feeling based on the fact she’s writing in about this at all. She didn’t actually ask a question in this matter, but if she weren’t seeking advice on whether she should try to change the situation she wouldn’t have written in. Also, she says, “When we were first married, I very much agreed with my husband on this point… but…”

      4. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Agreed. Well said. If she wasn’t ACTIVELY trying to change the status-quo, she wouldn’t be writing in here about said issue. Please note that she didn’t ask for advice as to how she could simply let it all go and accept the fact that her children wouldn’t have much of a relationship with her husband’s father… Nope. Not at all. Moreover, the LW’s first paragraph makes it abundantly clear that she now thinks that her poor husband is now being unreasonable… simply because the grandfather is on medication and “definitely much improved.” That’s a pretty fucked up view, if you ask me.

      5. iseeshiny says:

        Yup. Like she’s asking for permission to start pushing.

      6. I disagree that it is abundantly clear that she now thinks her husband is being unreasonable. I see DOUBT, not CONVICTION, in how she expressed herself.

      7. Well, clearly she doesn’t want to ask her husband about it and recognizes that it would be a bad idea to bring it up. And she probably doesn’t want to make waves in the family by talking to anyone else who knows the FIL. So why not write into an advice column? I just think people are being unnecessarily “OMG HOW COULD YOU EVEN THINK SUCH A THING” with her.

        Maybe it’s because I’m one of those people who is ambivalent about most things, who often asks “what if” and worries that she’s doing the right thing, who second-guesses her gut feelings and how they actually apply to reality. I could see myself being uncertain or confused in the LW’s shoes, too, and would feel smacked in the face by the assumption that I’m trying to push an agenda by even //daring// to express my hesitations.

      8. iseeshiny says:

        Well then frankly I think she needs to get over it. I can have compassion for her uncertainty while simultaneously telling her in no uncertain terms that she’s right not to push. Everyone wins.

      9. lets_be_honest says:

        And that is her answer she was looking for.

      10. Clearly I am alone here. I will shut up now.

      11. lets_be_honest says:

        I understood your point, that she wanted to make sure the status quo was the right thing, given that there was a change made (the meds). I agree that its not her place to push, which she said herself. I looked at it like ‘should I be doing more for my husband that i’m not thinking of’ rather than ‘I think my husband is wrong, should i tell him this’

      12. OK, So I’m not totally out in left field then, that there is a difference between doubt and decision.

      13. iseeshiny says:

        Sorry, I don’t mean to be nasty, this is just an issue I feel very strongly about. This urge that families have to smooth over things with abusers just because they’re family is so incredibly harmful to victims and is also super widespread. I realize you are arguing for kindness to LWs which is totally something I can get behind.

      14. And I didn’t mean to react so passive-aggressively myself.

        I suppose in cases like this where the letter is ambiguous as to the intention of the LW in writing it, I lean towards benefit of the doubt. My thinking is that abuse is an issue that many people don’t have firsthand or even secondhand experience with, and so many not understand the nuances. For example, they may ignorantly believe that an abuser can be fixed and forgiven, simply because they don’t really know enough about abuse to realize that that’s often not the case. Just like I forget sometimes that the rest of the world doesn’t have my knowledge of birth control and gender issues, I think it can be easy to forget that there are people out there who don’t know the ins, outs, and everlasting effects of an abuser, who may not understand why forgiveness is impossible for many families. So it’s with that sympathetic ear that I heard the LW saying “It seems to me like Grandpa could be forgiven and welcomed back now that he’s doing better, but my husband still feels strongly otherwise.”

      15. iseeshiny says:

        I understand entirely. And I agree we should be kind as possible when we shut down delusions.

        But also it’s really important to end this imperative to make peace with abusers, because that’s the kind of thing that leads to people having to either eat Thanksgiving dinners with the ones who raped or beat them or face the censure of a family who doesn’t understand “Why you don’t just forgive him, he’s CHANGED! He’s SORRY! Why can’t you just LET IT GO ALREADY? You’re so DRAMATIC!” Not saying that’s what the LW is doing or was planning on doing, just that it’s an extension of that same impulse.

        And so my sympathy is just tempered with having lots more sympathy for the victims, that’s all.

      16. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Don’t shut up. Just go take a reading comprehension class… Here, allow me to break this all down for you, line by line. The first paragraph is really quite clear about all of this.

        “When we were first married, I very much agreed with my husband on this point (and we never left our daughters alone with their grandfather)” The use of WHEN along with the PAST TENSE clearly reflects THAT SHE DID, IN FACT, COME TO CHANGE HER MIND ABOUT GRANDPA.

        “…but in recent years, my father-in-law has been taking medication to treat his violent rages.” HERE we have some evidence as to why she has changed her mind.

        “He is definitely much improved.” SHE ADDS another line here to further her own case for more and more father/son grandfather/grandchildren reunions…

        “But my husband still wants very little contact with his father…” THIS LINE IS ABOUT AS CLEAR AS YOU CAN GET. The subtext is plain as day. It’s basically… EVEN AFTER ALL THIS, MY HUSBAND STILL WON’T BUDGE ON THIS ISSUE…

      17. i agree with BGM. its a very veiled, beat around the bush, passive aggressive stance, but its there.

        its like the stereotypical woman being like “well, no, its your choice- **I** just wish you would make X choice”

      18. Changed her mind in a decisive way? Or start to wonder if they should reassess?

      19. lets_be_honest says:

        I think that’s the right word. Wondering if they should reassess. Maybe she’s thinking it would help her husband.
        Some people think forgiving is immensely helpful, although I personally would never want my kid around an abuser, so I can’t imagine even wanting my husband to rethink this, however, its possible she’s looking at it like that, that it would be good for her husband. I think she asked a question to be sure she was doing the right thing by her husband and her children and hopefully everyone’s answered it by saying yes lw, you’re right, its not your place, just leave it alone.

      20. I think if the LW is considering these types of feelings, that she should avail herself of the “expert” support groups, counseling and other options that would be available to her to learn more about living with childhood abuse. She seems to be approaching this with a “he’s ok now” or “he’s working on it so we should encourage him” perspective, which may be ok when dealing with family members who are hoarders, or have other mental or physical problems — but not in this case.
        If nothing else, the LW should be more focused on supporting her husband, not wondering about a missed relationship her kids won’t even know isn’t there. Grandparents aren’t all rainbows and kittens, and there are plenty of wise people in the world who can provide some comfort and love to your children without making your husband lose his mind worried that his children are going to be abused like he was. Furthermore, since abuse can be cyclical, keeping this firm boundary may be directly related to counseling or other steps the husband has taken to become a good husband and father… why would the LW want to rock that boat for an old man who used to abuse the man she loves!?!

      21. “If nothing else, the LW should be more focused on supporting her husband, not wondering about a missed relationship her kids won’t even know isn’t there.”

        exactly. regardless of the LW’s thoughts/feelings/questions about this whole situation, her focus is absolutely in the wrong place.

        also, i really really hope that the LW hasnt said anything to her husband like she said in the letter. as someone pointed out below, that is basically the worst thing she could do, and it would essentially be dismissing the husbands feelings and taking the fathers “side”. so, LW, if you were thinking about this- DONT.

      22. BGM, I agree with you 110%. Both as a foster parent (which means having dealt with, unfortunately, plenty of abused children), and as the spouse of someone with a horrible father of his own, it is completely ludicrous, and I am actually outraged on behalf of the LW’s husband.

      23. lets_be_honest says:

        Excellent points, really. I think the best course of action is to simply take no action. Like you said, just support the husband. If he comes to her with needing reassurance, different story, but for now I would just keep quiet and trust your husband.

      24. Yes Katie! And now that I have read with a bit more comprehension in mind, this last part of the LW’s letter is astonishing: “I do feel bad that this grandfather barely has a relationship with his granddaughters.”

        She openly feels bad that the man – who abused her husband – barely has a relationship with his own granddaughters. WTF??? I’m glad this LW is close to her own family, and I’m sure they are lovely people, but she clearly has no idea how damaging this thought is in situations where there has been domestic violence and abuse. I really REALLY hope the LW hasn’t expressed any concern for her husband’s abuser’s feelings to him.

        LW, please seek counseling and support from people who understand this… because I don’t know how you can marry and support a man that you know has been abused, and have his children, and then turn around and feel bad because grandpa can’t play with his kids. Um… grandpa could have started taking medication and caring for his family a long time ago. That’s on him… don’t go taking pity on a rage filled man who abused your own husband.

      25. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Um, reassessing IS pushing…

        Look, her husband has the final say-so on this issue. It’s his father. It’s his abuse… The LW needs to stop living in fantasyland and instead deal with reality. And what is reality? It’s really quite fucking simple. Not everybody DESERVES a second chance. Frankly, few do. And I don’t think ANY abusers do. Ever.

        Would it be nice for her kiddies to have two loving grandfather’s, sure. It’d also be nice if Madonna came round for tea and gave them all a yacht… Just because something would be nice, doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen — or even that’s its possible.

      26. lets_be_honest says:

        Its pushing if she’s talking to him about reassessing, but she’s not. She’s asking Wendy.
        I 100% agree with you about the husband having the say in this and I do not think this father deserves another chance at all.
        But, I think the wife is torn up about this, wants to make sure her husband is making the right choice for him and for their kids. Its not like if someone makes a choice its always the right one. Maybe she thought we would say you should tell your husband to reassess bc X. Maybe she just wanted validation to know her husband is doing the right thing. Just wanting confirmation of the correct choice is not doing anything wrong. Actually, I think its great she asked a 3rd party before bringing it to her husband.

      27. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        I was responding to KKZ, who used the word “they.” As in wondering if “they should reassess.” To me, that IS pushing…

      28. lets_be_honest says:

        But WONDERING if they should reassess isnt pushing anyone. Its asking if she should talk to her husband (which obviously doesn’t involve talking to the husband or pushing him, its asking a 3rd party).

      29. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Honestly? That ANYBODY would even think about whether or not their husband should reassess a LIFETIME of abuse at the hands of his father just so the grandkids can bond with somebody who — IN ALL LIKELIHOOD — will abuse them, too, simply astounds me. More than astound me, it truly outrages me. And, frankly, it boggles the mind that anybody would take issue with my hardline stance on that. It just boggles the mind…

      30. lets_be_honest says:

        No one is talking an issue with it. No one. No one is saying oh but he’s grandpa, its ok, what’s wrong with your husband.
        Literally everyone has said leave it up to your husband and don’t question him on it.

      31. lets_be_honest says:

        I fail to see anything wrong with questioning yourself and wondering if you are making the right decision, about anything. Frankly, I’m glad she wondered here. She has a great answer now. I question myself and wonder if I make the right decisions because I’m smart and want to be careful.

      32. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

        Agree to disagree on this issue. But I believe that you and KKZ are giving the LW far too much benefit of the doubt. She didn’t write in questioning herself. She instead wrote in asking how to change her husband’s mind about his father. That’s two VERY different things.

      33. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I didn’t read it that way.

      34. honestly? wondering is offensive. Really.

  12. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    LW2- both my grandfathers died before I was born. I’m okay. Your husband will not be if you try to get him to see his father. A person cannot simply look at their abuser with the same eyes that everyone else can. Treatment doesn’t always work. Family isn’t always the best people to have around. You need to leave this alone and let your husband navigate the relationship that you all have with your fil.

    1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      I rethought this. Why the hell do you want your daughters around an abuser??? It’s not like you yourself have a positive bond with the man that you want to share. Why does it make you sad that this man lost the PRIVLEDGE of a relationship with your daughters? When you beat your own children I hope that you at least don’t get to carry on the evil with the next generation.

      1. WLG said!!!

  13. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    LW#1 You say “no”. You don’t want to marry this guy, so don’t. It’s going to be a crappy conversation but that is going to be way easier than getting a divorce or backing out of a wedding the week before. Sounds like he needs everyone to stop letting home coast through life.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      *letting him coast

  14. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    LW1) One great way I’ve found to avoid engagements I don’t want is to simply NOT date people I am not in love with for, say, six years. Admittedly, this is a revolutionary approach to relationships, but one I most highly recommend.

    LW2) How dare your husband not be able to forgive YEARS of abuse now that his father has finally ‘begun” to work on his violent rages by going on medication…By all means, he should be chomping at the bit to leave your kids with his former formative years abuser because people always take their medication, and — really — all abuse can simply be explained away by a lack of the proper prescription…

    LW3) I hear you, sweetie, it’s awful dating a busy man with a life. Go troll around the local homeless shelters and I’m certain you will find somebody with plenty of time for you…

    1. You are on point today. Love your response to LW 1.

  15. MissSally says:

    Oh, LW 2. Having been on your husband’s side of the situation, I can tell you that it is so upsetting, sometimes even damaging, when someone acts like they think you should just forgive and forget abuse like that. For me, it made me feel like the person thought I didn’t have the right to have been hurt by what happened to me, and that I was being silly. I felt completely abandoned. Please just accept the current state of relations as a terrible situation for all involved, but one your husband has the right to control.

  16. Hi, all, I’m LW2. I wrote to Wendy to get her opinion (and that of the community here) before broaching the subject with my husband. I have not brought up the subject with him, and after reading Wendy’s and your responses, I never will.

    For me, this was a question of whether someone who was mentally ill should ever get a second chance. Reading your responses (especially the “WTF?!” ones), I’ve realized that my FIL, who is now in treatment and not violent, could have made the choice to get treatment many years ago. He didn’t. This is the price he pays for that.

    My husband is an amazing man who broke the cycle of abused/abuser. The choice to have more of a relationship with his father always was and will be his. But now I don’t need to feel any ambivalence over it.

    Thank you all for your thoughts on this.


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