DEAR NATALIE: My good friend is dating someone who is originally from another country and has been here on a student visa. They are talking about getting engaged so that he can stay and see if their relationship can go to the next level. I don’t really like this guy. I think he has his sights set on being able to stay here permanently on her dime. He doesn’t have any money, she pays for everything and while he talks a good game about the future – I’m not buying it. I know she wants to have a baby soon and with no other prospects in sight, I think she is willing to settle. How do I talk her out of what could be a huge mistake? I don’t want to offend her, but I am really worried about her. -DON’T DO IT
DEAR DON’T DO IT: When it comes to other people’s love lives, it can be easy to pass judgment from the outside. The truth is, you don’t know what either of their motivating factors are. Perhaps they do have an arrangement or “understanding” of sorts and are okay with that. She wants a baby and he wants to stay in the country. Maybe that is enough. Having acknowledged that, I also understand where you are coming from as her friend. You don’t want to see her get hurt or get further entangled with someone who may love her. If you do decide to chat with her about this, do so gently. Remind her that you are coming from a place of love and concern. Don’t be surprised if she becomes defensive, so tread lightly. Once you’ve said your piece, drop it. She may not decide to leave him, so you don’t want to have burned that bridge with her – especially if you are going to have to see him again.
DEAR NATALIE: My brother has been married for over ten years to a wonderful woman. They have two kids and I adore them all as a family. Recently, my brother confided in me that he has been having an “emotional” affair with my sister-in-law’s sister. I was floored. He explained that during a family vacation they started talking. They exchanged numbers and now they talk almost every day. At first, it was innocent enough, but it has recently turned more “romantic” in tone. He is considering leaving his wife to be with her. How on earth would that even work? The worst part is, my sister-in-law has no clue and her sister comes around quite often – now I know why. He has a beautiful life, why would he want to blow it up? And what can I do? –SAD SIS
DEAR SAD SIS: My grandmother used to say, “People make their own problems.” This seems like a perfect example of that. On paper, your brother has it all. Wonderful life, wonderful family and a loving home. But we never do know what goes on behind closed doors. We don’t know what has been happening between him and your sister-in-law that has led to this point. Before jumping to conclusions, ask him what it is that he is missing from his marriage? He needs to communicate with his wife and figure out what needs to happen to get back on track – if that’s what he wants. You also need to give him a dose of reality that even if they were to divorce, dating her sister would not exactly lead to a happy home – for anyone. Can you imagine the drama and heartache that would ensue – not just for his wife but for his children? Has he even thought about them in this situation? My other grandmother always used to say, “Men think with the wrong head.” My grandmothers knew a thing or two. All you can do is share your concern, hope that he recognizes the reality of the situation and encourage him to talk with his wife. His wife’s sister should be ashamed of herself, too. What a mean-spirited thing to do, to put yourself in the middle of your sister’s marriage. I hope they both wake up and realize that you can’t build a strong foundation on sand.
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