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Dear Panel,

How We Met

I first met Sue after a few months of working my new job.  She came in as a Temp in the dept. where I worked.   We struck up a friendship right away and laughed and joked a lot.  At first we were unsure if we wanted to date due to a 6 year difference in our age (Her being 6 years older).  I got promoted to a Sales Marketing position shortly after and we decided to date.  When we were first dating we would go out after work and on weekends a lot.  We would also spend time with her friends in the early days.  About a year into our relationship Sue decided to quit her job and take a month off to find a new job.

Sue: Jobless for 2-1/2 Years

Lefty Hmmm... Sue doesn't even mention this.

Two and a half years later and she is still on that "month long" break which has left me paying some incredibly high living expenses for both of us and trying to work twice as hard to get us out of increasing debt.  We have lived paycheck to paycheck, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, etc.  We are forced to stay home a lot because we cannot afford to go out  anymore.

Financial Problems

Hope If you are worried about this now. How will you feel after married?

The tough part for me is that for my age I am making really good money and work really hard for it.  Rather than building a future with the money I earn, I am forced to support both of us and try to dig us out of financial problems.

My Background

Over my lifetime I have gathered new friends and maintained friendships with people who I have known since Preschool.  I grew up in the little town of Seabeck, WA and lived in the same house until I moved to Ellensburg at 19 years old, to start college.  After college I moved to Seattle to pursue a job in the Marketing field.  A few months into my job I met Sue and we started dating and moved in with each other a few months later.

Her Background

Charlie But your open-door policy infringes on Sue's sense of personal space & privacy.

Sue comes from quite a different family/friend background than I do.  Although she says her and her friends and family are close, they rarely spend time together and have a closed door policy to where you can't ever visit unless you have planned out the visit for days.  Her friends seldom come around anymore, and I have seen her stop speaking to several of her friends since I've lived with her as well.  To me her core family seems to accept me and love her but when it comes to relationships outside her core family they seem non-existant. 

Sue's Family: A Communication Breakdown

Her parents don't seem to have many (if any) friends outside their marriage and I have seen a breakdown in communication between Sue's mother and her father prior to the death of Sue's grandmother.  Sue's father seems to have next to no relationship with his side of the family either.  Sue has told me that both of her parents had rough childhoods.

Friends and Family Are Not Important to Her

suetinbk.gif That's right, the wedding vow says, "Forsake all others"

It seems like any time any of my friends or family want to spend time with me Sue puts up a lot of resistance and pressure on me to not do things with them. She holds the opinion that the two of us in a relationship are each other's friends and family and as such outside relationships are not important.  A lot of the time when it comes down to a choice for me as to whether to stay home with her or spend time with the other people in my life she tells me that "I need to choose her to show that we are a couple and that she is more important". 

She Never Wants To See My Family

She never really wants to attend any functions where any of my friends and family are present because she has a hard time getting along with many of them.  She often complains and puts down my friends and family when the subject comes up.  If I do go do something with a friend or family member when she doesn't want me to she gets upset with me afterwards too. 

She Demands My Time

She has a very controlling personality right down to grabbing the remote and changing the TV channel to something she wants to watch when I am watching something, or yelling at me when I sit down at the computer because I am not spending enough time with her, even though she may have just spent several hours at the computer.  No matter how much time I try to set aside for her, it never seems to be enough.  She just does not enjoy socializing with other people like I do and thinks that part of growing up is being less sociable.

These problems have come forth again recently as we have been discussing marriage.

Conflicting Wedding Plans

suetinbk.gif I wanted to elope because I am shy.

She wants to run away and elope and have no family or friends present.  I would like to have my family and friends there.

suetinbk.gif If you can't come to an agreement on how to get married (i.e. elope), you shouldn't.

After relentless bickering, I tried to compromise by saying that we could possibly get married without my friends and family being present but that I would at least like to tell them what we were doing before we did it so that they understood that it was not that we didn't want to include them but that it would just be easier for us.  Sue chastised this request by saying that I can't do anything without first getting an OK from my friends and family and that I can't "pull myself from their breasts", so to speak. 

She Wants Her Feelings To Come First

I tried to tell her that I was just trying to be sensitive to the feelings of the others in my life by letting them know ahead of time rather than saying "guess what, we got married and you weren't invited."  Sue's response to this is that her feelings should be important and that if I tell my friends and family we're getting married I am putting their feelings ahead of hers.  And why am I not being sensitive to her feelings by obeying her wishes and not telling anyone?

Our Holiday Conflicts

This problem came up again during this holiday season as we are trying to schedule the holidays with both of our families.  We have had a pattern of spending Thanksgiving with her parents and Christmas Day with mine over the 3 years of our relationship.  Usually my family would always get together on Christmas Eve and at midnight would exchange gifts from one another.  Then we would all go to sleep and watch the kids open their presents in the morning and have brunch together. 

Our Holiday Compromise

Mare You agreed to start a new tradition.

Although I miss these events, I do recognize that it is not fair to Sue's family to never see us on Christmas or Christmas Eve.  I thought it would be fairest to rotate the holidays from year to year to where we could be with her family on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and mine on Christmas day and the next year we could do the other way around.

Sue I thought it was important to start our own tradition.

Sue's idea was to do Thanksgiving at her parents, Christmas Eve at my parents and Christmas Day alone with just the two of us. 

My Family Works on Christmas Eve

This is all fine and good except that this year several of my family members have to work on Christmas Eve so they were disappointed that we couldn't come Christmas Day this year so that we could spend more than just a couple hours together. 
Charlie I think you owe it to Sue to stick with the plan you made with HER

When I expressed my desire to switch to Christmas Day so that my family and Sue and I could spend some time together, she got upset and said I

was screwing up her plans and again that her feelings should be more important. 

She Claims I Don't Put Her Feelings First

In summary, Sue often suggests that I do not listen to her and that I do not put her feelings ahead of everyone else's, yet sometimes to me she seems to measure the importance of her feelings against those of other people in my life.

Sue When you are married what you as a couple want, should come before extended family.

I don't understand why this is necessary and it doesn't seem healthy to put feelings in competition like that.  Also, when she says that by spending time with other people I am denying her feelings, she at the same time is denying my feelings and needs to have and maintain relationships with people outside our relationship.  




hope2.gif alicia2.gif mare2.gif
You need some major compromises that you can BOTH live with.  Focus on loving and caring for the other person's needs.  Identify the most important core values to each of you in this relationship.  If you can't come to an agreement on how to get married (i.e. elope), you shouldn't. 

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