Life Advice



Mismatched Marriage Mindsets

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I'm having an issue with my partner of six years, "Alex." I love him deeply, and he's a truly amazing guy. But we have different views on marriage.

I've always dreamed of having a traditional wedding and starting a family. I think weddings are a beautiful way to show your commitment to each other. Alex, on the other hand, is hesitant about marriage due to his parents' messy divorce.

How do I navigate this situation without sacrificing my own desires or pressuring Alex into something he's not ready for? I want to respect his feelings while still honoring my own values. Any advice on finding common ground would be appreciated. -- Torn Between Traditions

Dear Torn: Navigating differing views on marriage can be tricky, but communication is key. Sit down with Alex and have an open, honest conversation about your desires and your concerns. Listen to his perspective, too; what are his fears, exactly? Is there a way for him to overcome them?

Understanding where he's coming from might help you both find common ground. Maybe there's a compromise where you can honor your desire for commitment without the pressure of a traditional wedding. A couples counselor can help you two find common ground and create a plan for the future.

Dear Annie: I believe a family member of mine may have an untreated personality disorder. She either loves or hates people, but that can flip in an instant. She is vindictive and punishes people for even a perceived slight. Her punishment can be extremely cruel and calculated. She often dreams up ways to emotionally devastate people. She constantly has conflict at work and has no friends, yet she is extremely needy to those she feels close to. She and her spouse are verbally abusive toward each other and talk terribly about each other behind the other's back.

It's emotionally exhausting to be around, but I grew up with her. She was essentially abandoned by her parents and our extended family took her in. We are a very tight-knit immigrant family.


She recently physically attacked me. It was the last straw. I ceased contact. However, she reached out to make amends and apologized, blaming her behavior on stress at work. Unfortunately, I was duped. She's up to her old tricks, and she can be just as nasty and hateful as ever.

We are both "expected," like a typical tight immigrant family, to attend events together frequently. What can I do to keep from falling into this old habit of getting sucked into her whirlwind? Do I need to cease contact from my entire family to get away from her? Many in our family don't like her, but it is an unwritten rule that you don't turn your back on family no matter how badly they behave. -- Tired of the Whirlwind

Dear Tired: What a toxic whirlwind you're in, indeed. I'm sorry you're experiencing both emotional and now physical abuse from this woman, both of which are unacceptable.

Cutting off all contact with your whole family seems both drastic and unnecessary; it's unfair to you to let go of the loving and supportive people in your life just to avoid one bad seed. Start by setting boundaries; it's OK to decline invites to functions where you know she and her spouse will be in attendance. When seeing them is unavoidable, keep your interactions with them very brief. This woman clearly has deep-seated issues, and you can't fix them for her. Instead, focus on protecting your inner peace and not getting wrapped up in her drama.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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