Dear Amy: Last week my daughter’s boyfriend asked my husband and me for permission to marry our daughter. He is a real nice guy and we feel comfortable with her marrying him. We told him so.
However, I do have one concern. He sounds like he’s a mama’s boy. He says he talks with his mom daily (I’m not sure if she initiates or if he does) and he has shared that his mom has strong opinions and gives advice freely. He is an only child and his parents divorced when he was young. She is remarried now, but the boyfriend and mom spent many years alone together.
I want to either email him or speak with my daughter about this. I want to reiterate that a husband needs to put his wife above all others, including his mom. That there may be times when my daughter’s interests are directly opposed to his mom’s and he needs to side with my daughter. I would advise my daughter to talk this out with him.
Perhaps I should have shared my concern when he visited, but I don’t want to start our relationship on the wrong foot. I also don’t want to alienate my daughter, but I do think it should be discussed before it becomes an issue.
Should I mind my own business?
Dear Mother-in-Law: Please. Mind your own business. Put your opinion about this into a lockbox and ... keep it there.
The young man who wants to marry your daughter has respected your authority to the point where he followed tradition and sought your permission. This is sweet and laudable. He is certainly doing his best to please you.
You have responded to his gesture by speculating about his relationship with his mother. Furthermore, while you criticize him for being a “mama’s boy” (a fairly gross pejorative, by the way), you are seeking to dominate him by conveying that he must not be dominated by his mother but instead be (in some sense) subservient to your daughter.
I completely agree with you that in marriage, both parties should prioritize the marriage as the central relationship in their lives. This can be a rough adjustment for some people as their other relationships shift and change.
You don’t seem to have met his mother. She raised a loving and lovely man. The key to forging a positive mother-in-law relationship is to never weigh in unless you are expressly asked. And even if you are asked, you should be extremely circumspect.
Dear Amy: Ten years ago a man and his wife purchased the house across the street from us. The former owners had built a huge garage to store their 40-foot motor home, and the new owner now operates a truck and equipment repair facility out of this garage.
I think every landscape company in my county does cash business with this guy. There is constant traffic, hammering, welding, etc., in what used to be a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood.
I don’t think the owner speaks English, and I can’t clearly communicate with him. I’ve had enough of the constant din. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. I’ve called the police. They say to talk to the city zoning department, which does nothing.
Amy, I don’t want to be the bad guy and make legal troubles for this man. But he just doesn’t get it (or doesn’t want to). His illegal repair business is a constant source of irritation and disturbance. Any ideas — besides moving?
— Mr. Crankypants
Dear Mr. Crankypants: If you don’t want to be the “bad guy,” then definitely move — but understand that moving might be tough because I assume the value of your house has been negatively affected by this active business across the street.
You are going to need to up your game. Document this business with time-stamped photos and videos. Talk to other neighbors, research your local zoning codes, write a letter to the appropriate enforcement official, and show up at public meetings.
You have the right and the responsibility to advocate for yourself.
Dear Amy: An additional suggestion for poor “Seldom Heard,” the husband whose wife never stops talking.
This describes my sister to a T. Finally she was persuaded to explore the reasons behind this. It turns out she has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Honestly, just knowing about this seems to have helped her to change her behavior.
— Concerned Brother
Dear Concerned: People often tell me that receiving an ADHD diagnosis as an adult is life-changing.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.)
Copyright 2019 by Amy Dickinson
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