DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister and I were having a casual girl talk the other day when it took an unexpected turn.
She told me about some awful things that have transpired in her relationship with a man she’s been dating for years and to whom she recently got engaged. She confided in me about times that he has cheated on her and has been verbally abusive toward her.
She was very emotional at the time and made me promise not to repeat the things she told me.
Despite that conversation, my sister still plans on marrying her fiance.
I can’t act like she didn’t tell me the things that she told me. I completely detest the idea of the two of them getting married now.
I want to stop her from making the biggest mistake of her life. How do I help her understand that she’s making a mistake without betraying her trust and making her regret telling me?
– Don’t Marry Him
DEAR DON’T MARRY HIM: Your sister is going to make whatever decision she wants, despite confiding about challenges in her relationship.
What you may want to do to support her is to recommend that she go to premarital counseling, both individually and with her beau. This is common when couples plan to marry. Under the guidance of a faith leader or professional therapist, they discuss values, goals and dreams; personal idiosyncrasies; and more.
This is an important time for couples to get a clear sense of the person they are marrying and whether or not they are compatible. Recommend that she go through this process as it will help both of them address any lingering concerns they have and forge a solid foundation for the future.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are getting older. I try to stress the importance of spending time with them to my middle school-age kids, but I don’t think they fully understand.
It makes me so sad that my kids aren’t spending a whole lot of time with their elderly grandparents.
My father is in his 90s and has been sick for a while. How do I tell my kids that they need to spend time with their grandparents without sounding too harsh? I would hate for them to look back and regret not seeing them as often as they could.
DEAR AGING PARENTS: Build time into your children’s schedules to spend with your parents. Make it obligatory.
Pick a frequency that works for their lives, perhaps once or twice a month, that they visit your parents. Your kids could even help your parents with chores or other small tasks.
Get them excited about documenting family history. Suggest that they interview their grandparents about their past. They can ask them to tell stories about their lives when they were growing up, or about you as a child. Elders often enjoy talking. Your children can record the interviews if they want. They will treasure those recordings later.
You can also invite your parents over for dinner on a regular basis. Create a routine of engagement so that your children naturally participate in activities with their grandparents without being guilted into making time for them.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.