DEAR NATALIE: I had an affair with my now-husband five years ago. We were both married to other people at the time and we fell in love when he was separated from his wife. I was not separated from my husband. After our respective divorces, we decided to get together. My family was horrified. They have not been accepting of him. We’ve been married for two years now and my parents still won’t speak to him and hardly speak to me. It’s awkward, of course, but now worse because I just found out that I am pregnant with our first child. I wish my parents could see how much happier I am in this marriage than I ever was with my ex-husband. Is there any way I can smooth things over and make them see what a good person he is? They said that “they don’t trust him” and that “he lured me in.” At what point do I give up on my family? I want them to be a part of our child’s life, but this silent treatment has broken me inside. Any ideas on how to bring us together? -MISSING MY FAMILY
DEAR MISSING MY FAMILY: I am so sorry to hear that your family hasn’t been able to move beyond what happened years ago. For some parents, they think that their children are extensions of themselves instead of independent people living their own journeys. From what you are sharing with me, I feel as though your parents are still disappointed that you didn’t live up to their expectations for your life and may even feel as though they “failed” as parents. Because of that egocentric approach, they could be centering themselves and are embarrassed by what happened. But what’s done is done. You and your husband made your choice. You are happy and expanding your family. Your parents can either engage with you and their grandchild -- who is innocent in all of this -- or they will miss out on sharing life together. I would write them a letter if you don’t think they will pick up the phone. Share with them what is on your heart. Put pen to paper. Tell them your happy news and express that you miss them. We can’t go back, but we can start again. I also hope that you have sought therapy for everything that you have gone through. Having your parents cut you out of their lives was most likely painful and could have influenced how you felt about yourself. I hope you are working on yourself and moving towards a future filled with joy and forgiveness -- for everyone.
DEAR NATALIE: My best friend and I are throwing a joint birthday party for ourselves in November. We are both turning 40 and wanted to do something splashy together. The problem is, she keeps making plans with the event planner without me. So far, she has picked the color scheme, the venue and the cake flavors. I feel completely left out even though I am footing half this bill. I have tried to talk to the planner about my ideas and contributions, but my BFF just walks all over her. I love her, but she is a nightmare to party plan with. I also wanted to make this event “covid proof” and limit the guest list to just our close friends and family but the list of people she’s inviting -- and the budget -- keeps growing. How do I rein her in without ruining our relationship? I have never seen this side of her and we’ve known each other for years. Any suggestions? —TOO OLD FOR THIS
DEAR TOO OLD FOR THIS: I re-read the letter and wasn’t sure if this was a party for 40-year-old women or 16-year-old girls considering how your friend is behaving. This is some bratty birthday behavior. If I were you, I would sit her down and lay it out. This is a joint event, you are sharing this special day, and she needs to start respecting the fact that your opinions matter. Let your event planner know that unless both of you sign off on items for the party, you aren’t helping foot the bill. Then sit your friend down and share that with her. She may not realize that you feel left out. Sometimes, people just get caught up in the excitement of the moment and after 16 months (and counting!) of this pandemic, people are antsy and acting impulsively. Give her the opportunity to apologize and move on. If she still continues to act like a diva, pull the plug on this joint party and have your own another night. A birthday is not a reason to end a years-long friendship. You’ll just know not to plan a party with her ever again.
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