What does fiancee's reaction to sacrifice mean? Ask her
Q: My fiancee and I plan to get married next year. Because she has a young son and shares custody with the father, she will need to stay in the D.C. area. I live and work on the West Coast and commute to D.C. two times a month, or sometimes she comes this way. We got engaged in January, and I began the process of looking for a position in the D.C. area.
I have an imminent job offer in D.C., but I also may get offers in Dallas and San Francisco. While they are all attractive, those two jobs have higher potential for promotion, offer better compensation and may provide more challenges.
When I told my fiancee I was looking to take the D.C. job so that we could be together, I was expecting her to be grateful for my efforts and sacrifice. Her reaction was more subdued — she is happy, but she pointed out to me that while she wants me in D.C., I need to be making choices that are good for my career. I thought I was trying to strike the right balance between career and family, and her reaction left me deflated.
Am I expecting too much? What am I missing?
Sleepless in Seattle
A: You're missing her side of the story.
At least, that's the most notable absence. If you're not comfortable telling her about your hurt feelings or asking her to explain her response, or if you aren't confident that what she tells you will be the whole truth, then your sacrifice will likely be for naught. Guessing at what somebody wants and then hoping the other person guesses right about you is not the formula for a satisfying intimate life.
To warm you up for the conversation, please consider there are many possible explanations for her tempered reaction. She may have read on you that you were excited about the other jobs, and felt a bit hurt herself. She might have wanted you to make this choice for yourself, not for her. She might not have felt comfortable in the role as sacrifice-ee; there is a lot of implied pressure that comes with it. And, of course, there's the obvious — she might have unexpected reservations about your moving close by.
That's just a sample, but I offer it because the most important thing you can do is give her ample room to share whatever's on her mind. That's tough to do in any emotional situation, but it's particularly difficult if you go into it thinking you already know how it all turns out.
With exes at a standoff, find out what child wants at wedding
Q: Wife of 25-plus years has affair (not her first). Greedy boyfriend turns divorce into dogfight. They marry. One of our children is getting married. I'm not too happy about pictures/receiving line with either one. Wife playing martyr, wants new husband included. Your advice?
A: Talk to said child. Find out what s/he is thinking and feeling, weigh it against your principles, then make your decision accordingly. That way it won't be about what your ex-wife wants or you don't want; instead, it will be about keeping your ex-wife's poison/self-indulgence/silliness (depending on your current perspective) from corroding your kid's happy day. Much easier to stomach regardless.