Dear Margo: Same Song, Second Verse

Should differing beliefs spell divorce? Margo Howard’s advice

Same Song, Second Verse

Dear Margo: “Ron” and I have been married for three and a half years, together for four and a half. (I’m 30, and he’s 31.) When we first started dating, I honestly didn’t care if he went to church with me, shared my beliefs or got along with my parents. Now, four years down the road, I realize I do care if he goes to church with me, shares my beliefs and gets along with my parents. He gives in and goes to church maybe once a month, complaining the whole time about the pastor and his “sheep.” He doesn’t know if he would let his children be raised in the church, and he doesn’t really get along with my parents. Divorce has come up several times — along with massive fights and screaming matches. He usually walks out, and I always beg him to come back because I love him.

Now I’m the one who wants to end our marriage — before we bring kids into the picture. Ron is now begging me to work it out and telling me he wants the marriage to work, saying he’ll go to church, change his beliefs and try to get along with my parents. Do I try to salvage my marriage? Do we split up and go our separate ways before we end up hating each other? We’ve tried counseling, but didn’t get very far. We were basically told, “You know what your problems are. Now fix them.” I do love my husband, but I don’t know that I’m “in love” with him anymore. — Wondering in the West

Dear Won: As you may know, I don’t think much of the complaint, “I love him, but I’m not in love with him.” To me, that’s an issue of maturity and expectations. In the situation you describe, however, the two of you are thrashing out basic issues that many couples try to come to terms with before they are married. Because of your history together, and your having laid down the gauntlet, I would give him (and the marriage) a trial period. If he can live up to his pledges, then you will have a better idea of whether it’s a go or a no go. — Margo, experimentally

Disability, Families and Bias

Dear Margo: I am Mom to three beautiful girls with autism, ages 11, 15 and 16. Their 49-year-old aunt is getting married for the first time in the late fall. She invited two nieces to be flower girls and two nephews to be ring bearers. She did not invite my girls to even attend her wedding and, to clear up the “chatter” in the family, sent an email to her brother saying, “There will be no other children under the age of 18 at my wedding.” My mother-in-law thinks the exclusion of her granddaughters is perfectly acceptable behavior. What do you think? And would you attend this wedding? — Miffed Mom

Dear Miff: I know of a man with Asperger’s who married an autistic woman, so it seems to me that if people with autism can marry, they certainly may attend weddings. Granted, this is anecdotal and not scientific data involving a large sample, but I detect in your situation a prejudice against persons with disability — and the fact that it’s family makes it all the more hurtful.

I would bring it up directly with the elderly bride (49; meow) and state your feelings. Use this incident as a teaching moment. You might also mention the sting of exclusion to your out-to-lunch m-i-l, who is clearly leading or being led by her daughter. (So much for doting grandmothers.) But do attend the wedding. If you cannot get your sister-in-law to change her mind, you will at least have gone on record and made your point. — Margo, instructively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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134 comments so far.

  1. avatar Carrie A says:

    LW #2: I’m surprised Margo didn’t notice the part where there would be no children under 18 at the wedding except for the few in the wedding party. It doesn’t sound like only the LW’s children are being excluded because of their autism. The couple simply wants to keep their wedding mostly children free and they have a right to do that. The LW needs to realize the world does not revolve around her, it is someone else’s event to plan as they wish, and she should shut up and just go to the wedding.

  2. avatar Jody says:

    LW#2: I married in 1992. After careful consideration (mostly having to do with our budget), the groom and I decided to EXCLUDE children from the reception. Anyone could bring their children to the wedding ceremony if they chose. But we wanted an all adult reception, because at the cost per plate, we saved ourselves a great deal of money by excluding that one demographic. It wasn’t personal. We weren’t slighting anyone. We loved kids and had 2 ourselves later (which we often did NOT take to other people’s wedding receptions). We just wanted to save some money.

    You wouldn’t have believed the criticism we got for that! Family members were upset and asking my mother to please explain why their kids couldn’t come to my reception. There was a part of me that thought, “Why the hell wouldn’t you want a night out without the kids?!”

    It’s my opinion that the bride and groom can have whatever type of wedding they choose, inviting whomever they choose. If anyone takes offense to that… it’s their problem, not the married couple’s. Weddings are magnets for this kind of drama. I remember as a bride, I could not please everyone. People will be upset for all kinds of reasons (seating arrangements, cocktail hour, food choices, music selection, cash bar/no cash bar, you name it!). Seriously, get over yourself and go enjoy a date night out without the kids.

    • avatar D C says:

      I certainly don’t fault you for wanting what you want, HOWEVER… you can’t really expect people to bring a kid to your wedding, and then stash them in the trunk for the reception.  Especially if they live a half hour or more away from your wedding location.  I just don’t see taking the kid to the wedding, then going home and dropping them off with the sitter, turning back around and going to the reception. 

      When my daughter was in 1st grade we were invited to the wedding of her teacher — we all went to the same church.  Our daughter was welcome at the wedding, but not at the reception — completely understandable because they served alcohol, and the teacher didn’t want her students around in that atmosphere.  So we attended the wedding, and went home. 

  3. avatar Jody says:

    LW#1: Please read this knowing I have compassion in my heart for you. Thank you.
    I believe you are grasping at straws by being in this forum on this subject. You already know the answer in your heart, but you are looking to others to help you build an army to get the nerve to do it. BUT….

    Here’s the thing… Life is always going to be what you make of it. You can be a church-goer who loves (or not) another church-goer. It’s not about Church. This is about your unwillingness to love past the differences. I’m not saying you are a bad person. I’m just saying that you are in a mix with ego which is telling you a story that you are believing. That story is: I must be with someone who goes to church or I cannot be happy.

    The truth is: This has NOTHING to do with church. Just as a couple argues over leaving the cap off of the toothpaste, you are diverting from your REAL issues in your marriage by using church as a front. The therapist you are seeing is not allowing a space for this realization to hit home with both of you, so you are continuing to argue over something that is not valid: church. Do you see that?

    I coach people/couples all of the time (it’s part of what I do as a Life Coach), and your case is typical of some of the people I help. Here’s what I would suggest:
    Start in the mirror. Find yourself and what it is that you are truly unhappy about right now. Figure out through journaling what you want. You need 2 journals for this. 1 for a gratitude journal, and 1 as a daily journal. The gratitude journal is for what you have found in the day that you are grateful for, even if it’s just breathing. The daily journal is for you to describe your daily thoughts and feelings of what has happened that day. Go back and read some of what you’ve written after 2-3 months. If you see no change, then you are NOT taking action towards your happiness.
    Lose your attachment to the “idea” of marriage. As humans, we become attached to most things in our lives. Your idea of what a marriage should look like is tunnel vision. Open your mind and heart to the possibilities of what a marriage CAN be if it has no boundaries such as those set by society (such as gay marriage, etc.). YOUR marriage is defined by YOU and your husband… NOT your parents, or society, etc. Lose the attachment.
    Drop judgment. This goes along with the attachment. You have a judgment on what life should look like, what the husband should be doing to make you happy, etc. The list is long. I suggest you question EVERY thought/judgment you have for the next 4 weeks on every aspect of your relationship with your husband. Question old belief patterns. Ask yourself, “Where did that belief come from? Why do I expect that? Who told me that? Did I learn that when I was young?” We get stuck in old belief patterns that hold us back. We are told untruths about ourselves (like, “I should be a good Catholic so I can be happy.”) when we are children. Those untruths become a part of our DNA until we become aware of them. We can look at them and decide to open ourselves up to the possibility that this may not be true. I HIGHLY suggest you do this. (I would highly suggest we ALL do this).
    Lastly, you get what you focus on. If you choose to focus on your husband’s negative aspects (as you see them), such as not going to church, or having a smart mouth, then that is EXACTLY what you will always get with him. Here’s the rub… IF you raise your level of awareness in the moment when he is acting out, you will find out WHY he is acting out and may be able to build compassion and empathy for him. Right now, you are blaming him. That’s not going to get you anywhere, but a divorce court date. Breath yourself through the moment and SEE what is REALLY happening. FOCUS on your husband being loving, kind, considerate, etc. When you see people a certain way, they will often do their best to BE how you see them. You get what you focus on…. focus on the positive.

    I could go on here. But, I hope that helps. I can be reached for more if you’re looking for more from me. However, I’m unsure if this site will allow me to be more helpful than this.

    Be the change you want to see in the world (or in your marriage).

    Jody

  4. avatar geekspice says:

    It seems like there’s a faulty assumption being made here, namely that the kids are being excluded because they’re autistic. But the bride has stated that all kids under 18 except members of the wedding party are excluded, so on what is this assumption based? I had two children in my wedding party and no other children were invited; there’s really nothing unusual about it. Inviting everyone’s children adds both expense and complexity to planning a wedding, and not all couples are up for that. It seems like LW2 might be looking for a reason to be offended where none exists.

    • avatar Marty Lawson says:

      geekspice is absolutely right. How many children are in the family under age 18? How many children under age 18 does the bride know or associate with?  If the letter writer’s children were the only children not invited, perhaps autism had something to do with it. If they were not the only children not invited, accept the fact that every slight does not necessarily have to do with autism.  Having several handicapped family members, I know that it is very easy to automatically be suspicious of the reason if one of them is left out of something perceived as special. I learned this the hard way when I remarked that it was cruel not to invite Michael simpy because he is paralyzed on one side. The offender said back to me “He is, isn’t he? You know I never think of him like that and didn’t realize anyone else in the family did.” Needless to say, the paralysis had nothing to do with the lack of an invitation.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      I think part of this assumption has been based on the fact that the bride sent out a clarifying email to address “chatter” in the family, plus the fact that the m-i-l is backing her decision. Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t—there’s not enough info to tell without LW2 dropping in to tell us herself.

  5. avatar Susan G says:

    Re: LW#1, I hold the outrageous radical belief that people can live good, kind lives without subscribing to any kind of religious ceremony. I’m so radical, I even think others who enforce this ceremony was a measure of worth violate the principles they so fervently preach, using their alleged piety as a smokescreen for intolerance, divisiveness and self-righteousness. There are been even a few wars fought under these delusions. But that’s just me.

  6. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1 – you cannot make anyone share your beliefs, otherwise they’re not really beliefs.  What the two of you seem to lack is mutual respect.  I understand you would like your husband to attend church with you and get along with your folks.  Out of respect to you, I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  However, you know his beliefs so you need to respect them.   With regards to raising children, and not knowing your respective denomination, you may have to compromise.  That would mean seeking out a denomination that has little dogma and offers a positive influence and fellowship regardless of personal belief.  Whatever your decision, I applaud you for working it out before you have children.

  7. avatar mayma says:

    Elderly bride?!?! Elderly bride!?!? Come ON.

  8. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – I think Margo was being kind a bit optimistic. This marriage is going no where. Give it 15 more minutes and euthanize it. These two folks are worlds a part. Love but not in love. . .gag.

    LW2 – Your Aunt has decided that except for 4 cast members there will be no children under the age of 18 invited. She gets to do that. Her wedding, her rules. You can get all butt hurt about it and make it about your autistic kids or you can simply decide to go without your daughters as other parents will be doing or decline the invitation as other parents will be doing. Don’t make it any more than it is and don’t play the Special Needs Child Card. Go or don’t go. Easy.

  9. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW#1: You didn’t care then, you do care now. Either learn not to care again, or set this guy free from your self-generated turmoil.

    LW#2: If the bride-to-be wants to stage an adults-only wedding, why do you — the mom of three (ages 11, 15 and 16) with or without disabilities of any nature – feel free to horn in with your own ideas? This is not your wedding, so butt out with your ideas on who should attend. Kudos for grandma (aka mom-of-the-bride) for backing up her daughter.     

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      P.S.: LW#2, as for whether to attend, either go with a smile and positive attitude, or promptly send your regrets without further comment. Case closed.  

  10. avatar josiejames1019 says:

    LW1: If you are a Christian, this is what the bible states about your situation:

    (NIV)1 Corinthians 7 -
    12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

    15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

  11. avatar martina says:

    My husband says that he is atheist, I think that he is agnostic.  I did not go to church when we first got married even though I had a strong faith.  I started going again about the time my daughter was 10 and she went to Sunday school and she chose to be confirmed in our faith.  My husband does not go to church with us.  I do not ask him to go to church with us.  I occasionally get the snarky comments, though they are not vicious.  More of a “so, how’s Jesus” and I just answer “he says hi”.  In his ignorance, he felt it was a cult (I belong to the United Church of Christ) until his mother passed away and he wanted someone to “say a few words”.  The pastor said “a few words” and he then realized that it is not a cult.  He still has the occasional comment, though it is no longer snarky, but he did come to our daughter’s confirmation and we have had the pastor over for beer and BBQ because Pastor’s a nice guy and good company.
    There is no reason to force your religion on your husband – that’s just asking for trouble. You’ll have him saying exactly what the husband of LW1 is about not allowing the children to go to church.  My mother taught me, that it was better to guide your children in your beliefs rather than letting them figure it out on their own and end up in a cult because they were spiritually lost.  I felt that there was some wisdom to that but I do not force my 17 year old child to go to church and, she is free to look to something else but she is content with where she is at.
    As to the rest of LW1’s issues, my husband and I are polar opposites but it works for us.  We generally agree to disagree and there have been times when he has not wanted to spend time with my family and there have been times when my family has not wanted to spend time with him.  I do not force either on each other.  But, my husband has never disrespected my parents or any of my other family.  You sound like you know it’s not going to work out between the two of you but you’re afraid of change and letting it go.
    LW2 – I have a coworker whose son is getting married.  His daughter through a second marriage (he was widowed) is 11 and was asked to be a bridesmaid.  Children are not invited.  One of the future in-laws is having a fit because the sister can go but no other children are allowed.  So, because she is 11 years old the sister can’t be there to see her brother get married?  It’s her BROTHER!  How petty can you get?!

  12. avatar D C says:

    I am going to go ahead and post without having read all the other comments yet (I know that can be dangerous here).  Anyway, I have an autistic son.  He is very high functioning, and has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome which is on the Autism Spectrum.  He is 15.  When he was very young, we never knew what kind of behavior to expect at any given moment.  He was extremely verbal (a blessing because so many autistic children are not), and we avoided places/events that might put him in a place where he could disrupt things.  With lots of love and seriously hard work, he is surprising me every single day at how well he is doing socially, and honestly, there are days when I think to myself, “Is this still an issue?”.  Then of course things happen and we know  that YES, this really is still an issue and we keep on working. 

    Whether or not to take autistic children to an event is entirely dependent on how you can expect them to behave.  If you have children that could cause disruption at an event which really requires no disruption, like a wedding ceremony, then you should probably not take your child, even if it is a family wedding.  However, to be told they are not welcome is really a bit much for family.  If I were the bride, and your children were loose cannons I would have probably told you, face to face, in as loving a way as possible, that we would love to have you at the wedding, and we had made arrangements for your 3 lovely children to spend time in a special room set aside for them during the ceremony.  And they were welcome at the reception.

    That takes me back to ’99 when my father in law remarried, and my youngest was about 3.  My husband, daughter and older son were in the wedding, and I sat with my youngest, near a side aisle for the wedding, should we need to step out.  During the reception it was like a big church family dinner, so no real issues there.  The night before, however, there was a big rehearsal dinner, and my in laws church hosted.  There was a play room and I ended up in the play room spending most of the evening there so my son could do what he does, and I ended up watching other kids as well.  And that was fine with me, because it made my inlaws event go smoothly. 

    I am so sorry your family made you feel the way they did.  Autism can be such a painful thing within families.  You already have so much to deal with, and if you’re not getting support within your family, you can feel like it’s you against the world.  Hang in there.  If I were in your shoes, I’d skip the wedding, and not let it cause hard feelings.  Just do something with your family that your family enjoys, and tell them you are celebrating joy that day. 

  13. avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

    LW#2: She is justified in feeling hurt. The bride included the rest of the nieces and nephews in the wedding party, and she couldn’t even have these three as mere guests! Children (and their parents) have feelings too! All nieces and nephews should be treated equally. Just as parents shouldn’t play favorites, aunts and uncles shouldn’t play favorites either. If some of the nieces and nephews got invited to be in the wedding party, ALL of them should’ve been invited to be included somehow, through some small role. We are grown-ups, we need to be mature and fair!

  14. avatar Violet says:

    I usually find Margo funny, but the “elderly bride” comment really was uncalled for. Even if someone is being a jerk, we don’t need to stoop their their level. If someone overweight is acting out of line, would you say, “Well why don’t you tell them, listen, fatty”? It’s insensitive, and I would have expected better from you.

    On the wedding invitations to kids. If they are so young they won’t even remember the ceremony, or it is not a situation they will enjoy, they shouldn’t be there. When I was little, my parents would drag me to various social occasions that meant nothing to me, and which I barely remember. I don’t see the big deal. At my niece’s wedding, a kid stood in the aisle and laughed and made noise through the entire ceremony. It was really annoying, and it was a kid everyone there loved, but having him there didn’t add anything to the day.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      Agreed on the dig about the elderly bride. 

      … That’s on on a par with suggesting the mother of the three autistic kids should could have gotten the genetic drift of things after the second, and called it quits before making it a triple-header.   

  15. avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

    One thing people have commented on is the fact that “all children under 18″ were excluded, not just these children. However, these aren’t just any random person’s children! These are relatives! They aren’t just any random children, they are special in that they are family! Apparently this lady doesn’t care for family.

  16. avatar floydfan says:

    How can you expect someone to “change their beliefs?” He could pretend to share her beliefs but they won’t be his. He can pretend to buy into what they say at church but it won’t change what he really believes. Does she want him to shut up and go along or does she care about who he really is? And why should he have to “change his beliefs?” If it’s important to her that they share beliefs, how about she changes hers. Why didn’t you call her on that?

  17. avatar BlazeandBlue says:

    Re the excluded daughters:  I’m not sure why the LW is assuming this is directed at her daughters because they are autistic.  I mean, has she never been to a wedding before?  It’s a fairly common guest-list-cutting (and cost-cutting) move to eliminate whole categories of people, like second cousins, children, coworkers, et cetera.  MANY weddings I’ve attended are no-children-except-those-in-the-wedding-party.  That is fairly standard procedure.  So if she’s checked with other families with children and none of their children are invited, either, she needs to let it go.  Guests don’t get to dictate the guest list.

    • avatar wishuponafallingstar says:

      “Checked with other families”– but that’s just it! She HAS checked with her family and they were invited as part of the wedding party! Her children are not on par with the children of people who aren’t related so there’s no point in checking with “other families”. She already checked with the people who are as equally related to the bride as are her children.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Ring bearers and flower girls are typically very young children…usually no older than six or seven…frequently much younger, as in far too young for the whole loathsome business to make any rational sort of sense. Blargh. The LW’s youngest is eleven…too old for flower girl, too young for a bride’s maid…and it is probably not traditional in her family to have junior brides (a very bizarre practice).

        Therefore, there will be four (4) very young children in attendance at the wedding. No tweens, as in the eleven year old daughter, or teens as in the older two children. I think that it is very clear that no other persons, family (what about the groom’s family? He might have nieces and nephews. They would count. As would any cousins, or in-laws. Or children of various friends) or otherwise, under the age of eighteen will be attending except for four small children. What about this is so terribly confusing for everyone?

  18. avatar jezoebel says:

    LW1: excuse me, but why is “Ron” expected to change his beliefs but the wife gets a free pass? The wife knew going into the marriage what his beliefs, religious or otherwise, were and it’s only NOW a problem? Sorry, but last I checked marriage is a two-way street, and if he has to make some changes to make her happy, so should she, like stop making childish demands and threatening divorce if she doesn’t get her way. And if she’s this childish, no wonder he doesn’t get along with her parents. Margo, you really dropped the ball on this one.

  19. avatar Briana Baran says:

    O, LW1. Faith is personal. Belief is personal. Religion should be personal…but, alas, how many humans who espouse a particular dogma can truly keep it that way? Because, all too frequently, declaring one’s self to be of a certain religion means more than praying to a certain deity, based on a certain dogma. In Christianity, it is vastly complicated by the hundreds of denominations, and then the complexity is increased by each, individual named Church’s (I am speaking of edifice, congregation and minister/pastor/preacher/priest) interpretation of their denomination’s accepted interpretation of the Bible. When one chooses a Church, it means choosing a community, a way of life, socially accepted norms, an edifice in which to worship, days and times at which to attend and a religious leader whose word one follows as…gospel. It’s rather like choosing a new…family.

    And sometimes abandoning the old when they refuse to become blended with their new, and perhaps not entirely welcome, shall we say…in-law…God? So many people are insisting that LW1 has grown…and now knows her own mind and heart. Really?

    Let me play, ahem Devil’s Advocate for a bit. What if she has not “grown” at all, but is, instead, devolving, and looking for a new mother (church) father (god) to support her because she’s incapable of doing so herself? She was very critical of her husband in her autobiographical sketch of her poor, sad life. Snarky, a maker of smart aleck (yes, dear, it is spelled aleck or alec…not “alack”) comments, not as educated (o, my) as she, or capable of keeping her in the manner to which she’d like to be accustomed (or so her parents apparently believe, since they keep trying to find him jobs that suit them better). She hasn’t got much nice to say about mommy either…though I suppose that daddy is okay in her estimation. These insipid comments regarding her parental units might stem from their hesitant suggestion that she’s using the full-immersion technique to get close to god again. As in diving into dark waters without checking her gauges and air pressure.

    LW1 has not grown up. She didn’t mind hubby’s smart mouth, disinclination to get along with her folks, or lack of piety when she married him. I do believe she thought she was rebelling by marrying a young man of dubious religious inclination, bad attitude and of a…ahem…lower class. A sort of Bad Boy. Now, however, she’s looking for a new thrill. Or an out. Her parents have actually accepted her decision, and even tried to help her favorite mistake. O, poo. He has difficulty keeping a job, or her. He’s failed to taunt her folks. His professed semi-paganism hasn’t resulted in anything really eccentric or decadent. He may even be wondering why she…with her higher intelligence and better education…isn’t contributing to the household. Having expectations of her? How…mundane.

    So, what to do…Ah, religion, and if the indications from the parental units is any clue, perhaps a significantly over-zealous brand of same. Suddenly it is of vital importance that he do things her way, join her church, or it’s over (o, peacefully of course, because she loves the useless jerk), raise their children in her church until they’re in college (really? I left my parents’ church at the age of eight. Eight. I had made a very reasoned and rational decision. Many children do so by middle school, even more by high school. It is completely wrong to expect, and even worse to force children to abide by religious dogma that they have no belief in) or it’s over. Excuse me, but can we say controlling, demanding and childish?

    I completely disagree with so many of the comments made on this thread. Lw1 is spoiling to make a change…but I very much doubt this is due to enlightenment and sudden maturation (are so many people assuming this because she’s “Got Religion”? I have to wonder. To me, that’s more a sign of desperation or the onset of mental disorder than the opening notes of maturity and reason). They’re living with her mother, who she describes as “guilt-tripish (sic) and nutty”, with no insurance because of their “job situation” (she never mentions ever having gotten employment…only how poor his record has been). She had a miscarriage eight weeks after their wedding…either a very early miscarriage…or she was pregnant at the time of their nuptials. Which doesn’t matter to me one bit…but I do wonder…did our precious princess “have to get married”? Does she hold him accountable? She obviously perceives him as wrong-side-of-the-tracks, and has not a good thing to say about him now…which supports my whole rebel without a clue theory.

    Perhaps she’s decided to become Holier than Thou. To Clean Up Her Act. To Be Good and a Proper Christian. I expect that means taking out the trash, so to speak. Like hubby. He may be a proper ass-hat, but she did marry him, and get pregnant with him, and didn’t mind his o-so-numerous defects for four years. Hmmm.

    I wonder if there is a smiling Mr. Clean-and-Shiny at this church of hers who would help her raise Good Christian Children and never say bad things about tolerant daddy and nutty mommy, and be all respectful, and who has a solid five figure job starting with a six or seven waiting with a white toothy smile for Our Baby. Just a thought, you know…

    But I’m a cynical, soulless, darkly amused lover of all things human. Don’t mind me a bit.

    • avatar babyapple says:

      I will respond respectfully to some of what you ask/say because I believe it to be important information and maybe you can understand where I am coming from.

      When we met – we were both semi-fresh out of other relationships – his abusive (her towards him, not him towards her), mine not-so-much – except that I was cheated on for the last 2 years of an almost 7 year relationship. We weren’t looking for a relationship – we kind of fell into it. We fell fast – no question, started dating May and were engaged by September, living together the following April (months changed to protect me, but the timeline is correct).

      I was not pregnant when we got married – or at least if I was, I was unaware. We were sleeping together prior to marriage, hence my earlier comment of saying that I had fallen away from my faith and not being the Christian that I should have been. According to my OB/GYN it was about a 6 week miscarriage, based on testing they did. I am quite capable of admitting my mistakes. Our wedding was actually pushed BACK by 2 months because of bad weather in our area at the time. That’s what we got for planning a wedding near the end of winter where we live when the weather can change without warning.

      As for my parents – both of my parents are good people – I am their only child and they only want what is best for me, regardless of my age. My mom can be guilt-tripish and nutty, but overall, she’s been respectful and caring towards my husband. My dad has given him opportunity after opportunity to try to clear up the snarky attitude and hatefulness that he shows towards my dad and stepmother, with no improvement over 4 years. Although he was wonderful to my dad to begin with, when he thought my dad was going to give us a large sum of money for our wedding and down-payment on our house (yes, my dad is well off, not so much my mom). As for my mom – she’s a good person – but she’s got her quirks and you either love her or hate her I guess – and I’ve run across people of both types in the last 20 years of my life (yes, there were people who told me at 10 what they thought of my mom, simply as a way to get to her through me).

      I didn’t just “get religion”. I wasn’t raised in the church after 8 years old because of choices my mom made due to the goings on at our church at the time. I returned to the church in high school on my own accord, riding my bike to church before I had a car to drive, became serious about my faith, and went from there. Once out of high school, I went to college locally, attended church fairly regularly, but still made my share of mistakes and bad decisions- that’s one thing I fully admit.

      I have worked since I was 16 years old – not because I HAD to, but because I wanted to – my parents didn’t want me to work, and the kids I went to school with DIDN’T work because I was at an elite private school locally. I chose to work to have spending money that I didn’t have to ask for or get grief because of the way I chose to spend that money. I worked through college, if I quit a job, I had another one rather promptly. For most of my “working life” I’ve only been without a job for a month or so. My jobless situation began in 2007 when I went back to school and lost my job because I couldn’t conform to the schedule my job demanded. After that, it took me almost 2 years to find a job – but I found one, and was quite stable in it until I took educational leave to try and finish up a degree that I was short one semester of practicum work on, but couldn’t work concurrently. When I went to go back to work, there were no jobs available, and my “protected” status really wasn’t protected. I have looked for a job since, and have one recently started working at what could possibly be a career job for me, if I can move up within the company, which I intend to, but I have no access to benefits yet. His job is also now a career job, but he must wait for benefits to kick in.

      I am quite capable of doing for myself. What I haven’t detailed is that for the majority of my college years, I was on my own – yes my parents were around, but my dad was living 4 states away while my mom was traveling frequently with the gentleman she was dating. I ran the household, I took care of any animals that were here, I made sure the bills got paid – yes my mom paid the mortgage but it’s her house. I took care of bills and made sure things got done.

      As for how I want to raise my children within the church – I have my ideas, they may change once I have kids (if I am so blessed), but for now my ideas are what they are. I’m not going to say I’ll NEVER do something, because I know I’ll end up turning right around and doing it.

      He made the comments about changing for me – I didn’t ask him to. I also often ask him if there is anything he would like me to go do with him that he enjoys that I don’t particularly. The answer is generally no. I make suggestions, he turns them down. I don’t want him to change for me – I’ve said that over and over to him – I want him to be him – I just don’t know that we can continue a marriage that is so strained. He doesn’t seem to mind going to church to participate in the “fun activities” such as coaching sports through the chosen church program, running evening activities that involve fun and games, etc. Just no church service and no preaching or message.

      I’m not quite the mean and nasty person I’ve been made out to be – I’m actually rather caring and loving, even to people who don’t believe what I believe or do what I think is right. I’m the first one to help someone even when they’re going against what I believe to be right – for example (not to start an abortion fight, but whatever) – my best friend wanted to have an abortion when she found out she was 8 weeks pregnant. She told me I was going to hate her and never speak to her again if she asked me for help. The opposite – I took her to the clinic, gave her the money, sat in the waiting room, and helped her through the situation because she is my best friend and I would help her in any way that I can. I sat in a clinic where I could have been seen by people from my church (the only abortion clinic locally and church members regularly volunteer to stand outside and pray – please no comments, I’m trying to make a point) and waited because it was the RIGHT thing to do, whether I agreed with her decision or not. She paid me back the money, but that was her choice – I didn’t force it, she offered and at the time, I needed the money so I took her up on the offer. I’m not going to debate abortion and get into all of that – but I will say that just because I don’t agree doesn’t mean that I end up being a horribly nasty witch.

      Yes – I’m spoiled – no question – but maybe I’m spoiled by the fact that I have two parents who love me (regardless of their hate for each other), would do anything to help me, have helped my husband and me when we’ve not had enough to make it, and have taught me to stand up for what I believe and to not back down. Yes I’ve had the material things in life that I’ve wanted – I don’t deny that and never have. Yes my parents have tried to get him better jobs that what he’s had (food service and warehouse work) because they felt he had more potential than what those jobs had to offer him. I will give him credit – he’s had to learn to back off the snarkiness somewhat, otherwise he wouldn’t have advanced in the job he’s currently in the way he has. Maybe it’s from being in a career type job that’s changed his work attitude – but it has certainly made him more snarky at home.

      As for the spelling errors – that’s on spell check – I had it spelled smart aleck to begin with, but auto spell check ruined it for me. I can take responsibility for not watching spell check, but I don’t want you to think I’m a slouch when it comes to grammar.

      I guess what I’m saying is this – I’m not perfect, I don’t expect my husband to be either – but if our views are so far apart and we can’t be happy together (due to consistent fighting), then is it really worth hating each other in the end when we could possibly end it now and remain friends (something we’ve discussed and are both currently comfortable with)?

      • avatar Phillip Koons says:

        I think you should leave personally. Honestly, I think you know that as well but are trying to get people to back you up.

        I don’t agree that offering to do things he wants to do is compromising. Religion is far more than just something you want to or not want to do. Deep down, you really are wanting him to either convert or move on. Otherwise, you’d simply be asking him to drop the snarky remarks about church as long as he was attending here and there. That’s not the point you are pressing though.

        Good luck however you decide to handle it.

      • avatar Chris B says:

        This is more information, but what I’m still not hearing is you taking your husband’s side in anything.

        He’s “gotten better”, etc. is kind of backhanded complimenting.

        Here’s the thing.

        You changed your mind. That’s allowed. However, it sounds like you are pushing him to conform to those changes, and that’s the part that isn’t fair, whether he’s willing to try or not. It sounds as though you’re disappointed that he only wants to do “fun” church events. Even if you don’t tell him you’re disappointed, I guarantee it’s coming across in other ways. If you can’t let go of your expectations for him to change, you should just call it quits now before children are involved.

        I agree with others that some of the snarkiness could be a response to signals he’s getting from you and/or your parents. Not a mature response, but again it’s something you knew about him going in. If it’s his default method of dealing, it’s going to keep coming up.

        In short, I think this marriage is probably done for. It sounds like you are more interested in defending your position than listening to his, and vice versa. Marriage is built on compromise. Sorry, but offering to “do things he likes” is pretty shallow compared to asking him to fully participate in raising his children in a church he doesn’t agree with.

        It still sounds to me like you aren’t interested in keeping this marriage going anymore. That doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, it just makes you human.

        If you’ve talked about ending it on friendly terms and it seems that might be a valid way to go, then do it. Less ugly, less expensive, less drama, and maybe you can keep all those happy memories.

  20. avatar EmmaS says:

    Wow, people. Lots of harshness to LW1 here. Everybody who is exactly the same person they were 4 (or or any number) years ago, raise your hand.

  21. avatar Nicole Thomas says:

    LW-2 I think I would need a little more informaiton on this.   Not knowing how large this family is, but I would guess that there were other family members under the age of 18 who did not have autism, but were also excluded from the wedding.  If that is the case, the Lw should mention her disappointment to the bride, but she really shouldn’t hold it against her. 

  22. avatar Jon T says:

    I’m also not a fan of the phrase “I love him, but I’m not IN love with him.” I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on it, but it always sounded to me like a cop-out. Like the person is trying to avoid admitting that they really don’t love the other person anymore.

    But I’m curious to know what Margo’s objection to the phrase is. Her explanation might make more sense than mine.

  23. avatar fallinginplace says:

    LW2 – If your daughters are being singled out, you have every right to be offended. Nor do I buy the “maybe she did it out of kindness” argument – because there’s nothing kind about deciding on the parent’s behalf that her children can’t keep it together for a wedding. (I am the parent of a teenager with Asperger’s so I have some experience with this.) However, there are plenty of people who decide they don’t want children at their wedding. An exception might be made for the wedding party, but no further. If that is the couple’s decision, the guests have the choice to abide by it or not attend. Some people just don’t want crying babies or toddlers, or even whiny/giggly tweens, at a wedding.

  24. avatar Lym BO says:

    LW1: I have a friend who believes that any exclusion of her child is related to some discrimination because of a mild disability. The truth is once I excluded him because the birthday party was for my 5 yr old & I invited other five years olds, like his sister. She was mad for months & I couldn’t figure out why. Once I found out why I then explained to her that no other siblings were invited. Sheesh! This boy doess behavior problems, which I (medical) attribute to poor parenting (ie. she lets him slide because of the disability). I can see this wedding issue in two lights- the bride doesn’t want any children there or the autistic girls are going to be disruptive & the aunt has previous experience. If it is the former then she should have stated no children except nieces & nephews. The parents need to be sure their wedding gift is takes into account their added expense. If it’s the latter, then it is what it is & the mother to these girls should realize she can go to the wedding & have a good time child free, which is likely a rare break for her. The girls can simply be told that Children under eighteen are not invited. They are too old for the wedding party. I certainly understand they will feel slighted as does the mother. If I were the bride in this situation, I would’ve not had any children in the wedding party. (oh yeah, that is what I did). While I am thrilled as a parent to have my kids in a wedding (stokes my ego LOL), as a bride I thought it was silly and frankly still do ( unless it’s my kids) LOL!
    Those who wrote kids don’t belong at a wedding or reception surprise me. A wedding is a family event, a religious event & a cultural event to which children should be exposed. I simply don’t attend adult only weddings if travel is involved. No travel then I am good with whatever the bride wants.
    Now I’m on a roll. I did attend one wedding (my three toddler kids & umpteen little cousins) were also invited. The bride set up a room with two sitters that was full of games, movies, etc. That worked beautifully. Parents got to party & check on the little ones as needed. I think we even had a pager. These days a cell phone would do.

  25. avatar dianha says:

    So 49 is now elderly? And what’s with the “meow” comment?

    For someone who had to take 3 trips down the aisle to finally get it right, maybe a little less snarkiness is in order. On behalf of all women who choose to establish themselves before hitching their wagon to another person, I apologize for believing that one should know him- or herself first.

    Really, Margo, you disappointed me with that catty comment. Shame on you.