By PHILIP GALANES
My boyfriend and I are in college. We’ve dated for two years. We talked about getting married after the first year. My parents supported it; it’s common (even considered lucky) in my family to be married before 25. But his mother thought we were too young and asked us to date for another year. We did. Now she’s added a new condition: that we be financially secure before marrying (even though I come from a wealthy family). I sense this pattern will continue, but her approval is essential to my boyfriend. Any advice?
Nothing makes old codgers skeptical quite like young sprites skipping (blithely) down the aisle. Fear not, young lover, I will not pile on — though I do note, purely mathematically, that you probably have another four or five years before you hit your family’s lucky-duck deadline.
Good decisions get made when we are ready to make them. Practically, your lives as students, especially rich ones without hefty loans and part-time jobs, are a walk in the park compared with most working stiffs: four classes (and homework) versus grueling (and occasionally gruesome) days at the office. Should you taste this working life before making commitments about how you’ll spend it? It doesn’t seem ridiculous.
More important, and more subjective, is your emotional readiness. You should be able to stand on your own two feet — but choose to stand together — before making this major decision. An easy opening question: Is your beau acceding too readily to his mother (or you)? Keep talking. These conversations may push you forward or suggest a pause. (And for background music, definitely “(They Try to Tell Us We’re) Too Young” — the Nat King Cole or the Donny Osmond version.)
My brother and I both have toddlers. Whenever they play, one child (usually his, who is younger and smaller) ends up injured and crying, despite close supervision. My brother’s commentary suggests he thinks I am raising a hellion, even though I get great feedback about my daughter from others. I think my brother and his son could stand to toughen up. And I find myself defending my daughter: “She didn’t mean to hurt him!” It’s getting to the point where I hesitate to get together. Help!
Oh, I’m sure you’d love it, Mommy, if your daughter were a crash-test dummy for an older, bigger child. But your instinct is Solomonic: Stop getting together for a while. Toddlers develop so quickly. In a few months, your nephew may be just enough bigger and stronger to hold his own with your active daughter.
Don’t misunderstand me: I am not suggesting your little girl is Rachel, “The Bad Seed” (or that your nephew is a delicate flower). But if he is crying every time they play, they are not the right playmates for each other — right now. I get why you wish this were different: They’re first cousins. But if you share my thinking with your brother, I bet he’ll agree. It will probably improve your relationship, too.
I purchased my first new car in 10 years. I live in a small apartment complex with assigned parking spaces. The space next to mine belongs to a family (with children) who carelessly open their doors into my new car. (I have observed this from my apartment window.) I already have three sizable dents along the driver’s side of the car. How do I approach them without creating conflict?
Here’s hoping you’ve retained that new-car smell, at least. I can’t imagine a friendly visit to their apartment causing a row: “Our parking spaces are so narrow, and my car is so new, I wonder if you and your kiddies could be a little more careful when you open your car doors? I’ve gotten a few dings.”
But I run into this problem in parking lots all the time (and my middle name is careful). If disembarking from the parking spaces at your complex requires Simone Biles-type gymnastic moves to avoid kissing the next car, perhaps your second stop should be the managing agent’s office to ask for roomier spaces.
I am an outgoing 64-year-old man. I am single and not having much luck with online dating. But I have noticed several attractive, single-looking (i.e., no wedding bands) women at my local supermarket on Sunday afternoons. I would like to introduce myself to one or two, but I’m sensitive to harassment issues. Is there a way to do this without being obnoxious?
ANONYMOUS, JERSEY CITY
Let’s take a page from the apocryphal notebooks of Sigmund Freud: Sometimes a melon is just a melon. Being ringless and attractive in a supermarket is not an invitation. Better to leave aside your dating agenda in public places (like markets and subways), unless a conversation sparks up spontaneously and mutually. Still, I hear you about the dating sites. Why not ask a local merchant to host a mixer: a singles book club at the bookshop or a singles hour at the nice cafe?