Adapted from a recent online discussion.
So soon after their wedding is not time for a guys' beach trip
D.C.: I got married less than a month ago. My college friend invited me and another guy to Miami for his unofficial bachelor party. His fiancee isn't coming and no one else is bringing women along. I don't think my wife wants me to go, and I feel guilty because we haven't really done a honeymoon yet. Would it be wrong to leave town without her so early in our marriage?
Carolyn: Yes. There are only two ways you could do this without being a jerk to your wife:
(1) If the only reason you skipped the honeymoon is that you've already booked a big trip for, say, this winter — and if the delayed honeymoon were mostly or equally her idea;
(2) If she's genuinely urging you to go.
Okay, here's a third reason:
(3) If you married after being together for years and you've traveled extensively together.
But if you skipped a honeymoon because you were out of money or vacation time and you both agreed to be responsible, wait and save, then your taking this trip would be so bad on a symbolic level that it could do permanent harm.
In fact, under those specific conditions, you could damage your young union just by seriously considering the trip. Marriage is a lovingly entered life partnership, not this annoying thing that's making you miss a guys' beach bash.
Use an inclusive approach to guide brother toward his girls
Maryland: My brother hasn't seen his kids in over a year but is gaga over mine, which I find deplorable.
I know how judgmental I probably seem, but I believe all the energy he invests in his nephews should be going to his daughters, who live only about an hour away.
How wildly inappropriate would it be for me to say I don't want him around my kids till he starts setting a good example of what it means to be an involved father?
Carolyn: It would be wildly inappropriate if you and he haven't talked openly about your concerns about his girls.
You're siblings, you apparently see him often, as do your kids. It is your place to ask about his daughters, pointedly, and to say you'd like to include his girls in these visits.
If the time is right — when it's right — say it pains you to see the attention he gives your kids knowing he's not seeing his own kids.
Then, let him say his piece.
He may accuse you of butting in, an opinion he's certainly free to have. But then you can counter with the fact that his prominent place in your sons' lives means you — and they — will someday have to reckon with his approach to his own children.
Examples do matter.
All this is a way of inviting your brother to work through the complexities of the issue with you, instead of your just slamming the door on him. It may turn out that just raising the issue will move your brother to slam the door himself — but it makes all the difference when you start on an inclusive path, even if it doesn't lead where you'd hoped.