- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2008

I’m in the Air Force, and I’ve been dating my girlfriend for a little more than two years. I don’t remember proposing to her, but all she is talking about is our wedding. I’m not kidding.

Her family members keep saying “Congratulations on your engagement,” and they are helping with the wedding plans. My girlfriend has ordered a wedding gown, the wedding invitations, and she is sampling wedding cakes. I’m just baffled because I don’t know what to do about this. To my knowledge, we are getting married in April 2009 although I’m not sure of the exact date.

How did this get started, and why is she thinking I am marrying her? I love her, but I don’t want to marry her, at least not yet.

I’m thinking I will put myself on a rotation for a deployment early next year. I would like to see what she will do then.

Ms. Vicki, I need your help to tell her I’m not marrying her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings because I would feel like a jerk. Do you think she is delusional? I’m just a kid, and I’m not ready to get married.

- Not Ready to Marry

Dear Not Ready:

Why would you feel like a jerk for confronting her about these actions? You said you are not ready to marry her, so you need to tell her this right now.

You are wondering how she got the indication that you wanted to marry her. Well, in my opinion, it’s probably because you sat still and let this continue when you first saw the signs.

Bottom line, you need to step up to the plate and stop this. Tell her you are not going to marry her right now. It sounds as if she has many family members and friends who will help with her hurt feelings. I think it’s humorous that you would prefer to volunteer to deploy to war so you won’t be available for a wedding in April. This is too funny.

Your girlfriend obviously is investing a lot of time and money for this wedding, and you cannot let this continue. Just think, she could take you to small claims court to recoup the money she is spending, and a judge could hold you culpable because you did nothing to stop her.

I agree that you are a kid, but if you are serving your country, this means you are an adult. For this reason, I have to say you must “man-up” and tell your girlfriend you are not marrying her immediately. Please keep me posted on this one.

Dear Ms. Vicki:

Please print my letter. I refuse to spoil my grandchildren just to stay in my daughter-in-law’s good graces. She has always taken advantage of me and my husband. She always calls or has the grandchildren call and ask us for money, clothes and money for their extracurricular activities.

My husband is a Marine (retired), and so is my son, who is no longer married to her. I try to keep an open relationship with her and still refer to her as my daughter-in-law even though she is no longer married to my son, but this is nothing more than abuse.

If we are not sending the grandchildren money, buying them things and keeping them overnight whenever she asks, she will keep them from us and talk to us very disrespectfully. It´s as if she is holding us hostage.

Don´t get me wrong, we love our three grandchildren, but we think this is blackmail.

I know you are wondering what my son has done about this, and the answer is nothing. He is scared of her and afraid he won´t be able to see his children, either.

Ms. Vicki, lawyers are expensive. We had to borrow money from our retirement funds just to help my son with his divorce expenses. Believe me, his ex-wife walked away with much more than she deserved. She is still getting alimony, and they have been divorced for three years. Of course, she also gets child support.

If my son is paying child support, why are we still giving so much money to her? It´s not fair, but I guess it´s what we will be forced to do, or else we won´t get to see our grandchildren. She is just plain mean and evil.

I know we can´t be the only grandparents in this situation. So Ms. Vicki, please submit my letter, and maybe others in this situation will tell us how they handled it.

- Scared of Losing My Grandchildren

Dear Scared,

My heart really goes out to you. I can see you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I´m not sure how your daughter-in-law’s manipulation got started and how you got reeled in to it. At this point, I´m not sure if having a heart-to-heart talk with her will even help.

In this case, I think you are going to have to get more legal advice. Grandparents have rights, too. I know you don´t want to incur more legal expenses; however, I think you should revisit the attorney who helped you with your son´s divorce case. Your son should already have court-mandated visitation with his children. If his ex-wife is not abiding by this order, something can be done legally about this, and he definitely should report it.

The attorney may be willing to help you establish some mandatory visitation with your grandchildren.

I´m glad to know you care so much about your grandchildren. I´m sure they will realize in due time that you have been so caring. On the other hand, they soon will be old enough to make decisions without the influence of their mother. I really wish you well; don´t give up.

cVicki Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three, has been counseling service members and their families for 15 years. Her column, Dear Ms. Vicki, runs in The Washington Times Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearmsvicki@yahoo.com.

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