My mother doesn’t want me to get married
Dear Wilhemina I have been an attentive and loyal son to a mother who has (for the past 32 years) spared me not a single one of her ill-formed and ill-informed thoughts or desires, not to mention her disappointment with my father. But I may have finally reached breaking point. When I told her that I was getting married (to a lovely English woman who I met while living in the US) and of whom I thought she might have approved, her response was “Well, in my misfortune, at least she’s English.” This sent both my sisters into peals of laughter—and me into a rage. I can’t believe this is the most I can expect from her. Should I shut up or blow up? DD
Dear DD I’m somewhat with your sisters on this one: the mix of self-pity, melodrama, selfishness and pettiness in her reaction is hilarious. But, yes, it’s less funny for you as you’re on the receiving end.
What irks you the most? That you thought you had chosen well but still didn’t receive her approval? That she categorised your marriage as her misfortune? Or that she is a xenophobic git? If it’s the last thing, then by all means tell her off. But if it’s either or both of the other two, you may be in for a longer ride.
There are so many classic Oedipal issues in the situation you describe. The role you seem to have been assigned (and have perhaps taken on in return for a degree of intimacy and privilege with your mother) is that of surrogate partner and confidant. So she is bound to see your choosing to be with another woman as a betrayal, as the end of her happiness. You need to take a step back from this intimacy—especially as you are taking on this role with someone else. Either change your relationship with your mother, or be prepared to leave your future wife’s expectations unfulfilled, and to feel terribly torn. Thirty-two-year-old habits are hard to break. But this is urgent—you may otherwise start to wonder what, or who, led you to your choice of partner. Wilhemina
I blew my thirties
Dear Wilhemina I’m a woman in my early forties. Recently, as I was talking to friends, I realised that I had blown my thirties. Everyone was sharing experiences of…