Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Got engaged and now regretting it?

DEAR NATALIE: I recently got engaged to a girl that I have been dating for only 6 months. I felt a lot of pressure from my family and her family to propose. She is already dress shopping and wants to pick a venue this week. However, I am really mad at myself for proposing and wishing I could take it back. How do I back out of this before things get out of control? I know she isn’t “the one”. I should have broken it off before it got this far. --BAD DECISION

DEAR BAD DECISION: You have no choice except to tell her the truth. She’s going to be upset, naturally, but better to tell her now then down the road after the venue is booked, dress paid for and honeymoon planned. You also need to take a look in the mirror and think about why you were so easily pushed into doing this. Take some time to date yourself for a while. Find out who you are, and who you want to be. Stand in your own convictions or I’m afraid you are going to a live a “yes man” kind of existence that won’t make you happy or fulfilled. Getting married is one of the most important decisions of your life and you were steamrolled by pushy people. Work on standing up for yourself. When the right woman comes along, you won’t need badgered into this experience, you will want to go through this journey together. Until then, it’s time to own your mistake and move forward separately.

DEAR NATALIE: My wife insists that I spend a lot of time with her family, but we have been married for seven months now and she still won’t hang out with my family. My sister is really hurt by this and told me I need to talk to my wife. What should I do? --MAN IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAN'T WIN: I don’t think it is very fair that your wife gets to have her way all the time. Marriage is all about compromise, and while life is never 50/50 (sometimes, 80/20 depending on the day of the week) the pendulum needs to swing in your direction once in a while in order for things to stay somewhat equal. The next time she wants you to hang out with her family, I would say something like, “That would be fun! I’ll invite my sister and see if she wants to join us.” If she balks at this, say, “Well then next weekend let’s all do something together. I’ll see if my parents can come, too.” If she refuses still, you need to find out what the problem really is. Did someone upset her? Does she think that they don’t like her? Is she intimidated by them? Whatever the reason is, get to the bottom of it now and nip this nonsense in the bud. Family is family and she shouldn’t expect you to drop everything for hers but be able to ignore yours. Not cool.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Try not to eat food at cocktail parties while you are trying to meet and interact with people. While it is great that there is a lot of food at these events to nibble on, no one wants to talk to people with garlic breath or with spinach wedged in their tooth. Save the snacking for after the networking!

(Have a question for Natalie? Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to 358 North Shore Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15212.)

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)