Both parties in marriage have a say in what works, what doesn't
Q: I'm not attracted to my husband. I never really was but I discounted its importance. This, unsurprisingly, has led to a sexless marriage. I consider sex to be an important part of a relationship.
Is leaving someone because you don't want to be intimate with them ridiculous or necessary?
A: The full answer demands that I speak for your husband, which I can't do; he could be hurt by your lack of interest in him, relieved you aren't pestering him, or merrily grabbing as much as he can on the side.
I can say that, so often, people worry a whole lot about the way their marital compromises will affect them, and very little about how these compromises will affect their spouses-to-be. You think, "Will my lack of attraction to him be a problem for me down the road?" without even weighing whether it will be a problem for him. Settling is unilateral, but married life is mutual.
There's always some risk of presuming when you try to anticipate someone else's needs; you can't fully know someone's mind. But you can make a pretty good guess that, say, a guy who enjoys sex would probably not be thrilled with a bride who'd rather not touch him.
Now that you're sexlessly married, you've missed your best chance to think and act selflessly. But it's never too late to start respecting his needs: Does he approach you for sex a lot? Did he used to, but finally quit? Or has he always been hands-off?
There will have to be some kind of long-talk reckoning here, since you're so unhappy — but the way you start talking, I believe, should originate not just in your needs, but in your sensitivity toward his as well.
Hold ground on daughter's demands for grad school
Q: My daughter graduates from college this year. We have told her we cannot pay for graduate school as we still have two more years of school to pay for her younger brother. She is so angry over this, and asks if we will help pay for anything. I have explained more than once that we just cannot afford it; we gave her this information two years ago.
In addition, I believe she needs to work to support herself (she has always disliked work). While her younger brother has worked every summer, she has not. How can I get her to stop asking?
A: She has always disliked work? Please tell her I said good luck with that.
You can't "get" her to stop asking, but you can hold your ground. Eventually she's going to have to live her life without your money — and either accept that, or die complaining about it.
You can also explain calmly that your refusal was initially about the money you had available, but it's quickly turning into a point of principle, now that she's reacting so petulantly to the idea of managing her own adulthood. But make that a last resort, since this could get ugly.
I should say, ugliER.
I do wonder — is her brother the favorite, or even a not-openly-acknowledged golden child? It's just wild speculation, but I wonder if she has built this up in her mind as an issue of cosmic justice. Sibling resentments can trigger anger like this.