Be transparent in seeking cause of boyfriend's new moodiness
Q: My boyfriend of a year and a half went on a three-week trip to Asia with a random group of college students his age. Now that he is home, he is moody, almost depressed, and just doesn't seem to be investing much into our relationship.
I can't believe it because we had an amazing relationship. I know he must miss being on vacation and the people he met, but I just wish I could have my old, loving boyfriend back.
A: Maybe he misses the trip, or maybe it shook his world view. Returning to an unchanged world is disorienting when you feel transformed; it's the first-semester freshman phenomenon, where kids who've been independent for mere weeks return for Thanksgiving to that alien place called "home."
Third common possibility: He could have, er, done something (or so wish he had). The "symptoms" you describe — moodiness, withdrawal, seeming different — could mean any number of things, but that trio often shadows a guilty conscience.
If he's not willing or ready to explain himself, then your choices are limited to how you'll wait for this information. Give him time? Press? Break up pre-emptively?
Since you want transparency from him, be transparent with him. "Something has changed with you. I can't make you explain it, but I can say I'd prefer the truth, even a bad one — and give you room to figure things out. Not because I want to break up, but because I want to stay together." Let him know he needs to come to you.
Be supportive of daughter's new world and let them celebrate it
Q: My daughter got engaged at Christmas to a military fellow. They were to have a spring 2012 wedding, but chose to elope in May before he deployed.
Now she wants to have a vow renewal ceremony and celebration with all the trimmings. I have no problem with a vow renewal, but I take issue with a wedding gown, bridesmaids, bachelorette/bachelor parties or even bridal showers.
The biggest issue is that she and her husband now live 13 hours from both families. But they want this "event" to take place in their hometown where, yes, his Army buddies are, so they can do this "sword" ceremony. This feels like just a big, expensive show for their friends, given that little family can attend. My contention is that if family is truly important, the "event" will take place in her hometown, and friends can make the trip. I am losing lots of sleep over this.
A: Please let go, let them celebrate as they want, let them pay for it. Let last night be the last one you suffer without sleep.
This is your daughter's world right now. Yay for her. You will always be your child's primary home, but right now she's in a community that gains strength through unity, and unity through immersion. You have a chance to provide support for soldiers that means something: You can say, "The ceremony sounds beautiful, we'll just gather the relatives for a celebration next time you're in town." If you can travel, go, and if you can spare it, give a cash gift she can spend as she wants. Your blessing will bring her closer to you in the end.