I am no longer comfortable spending time with my common law’s family because they always make backhanded compliments. I’ve tried talking to him about this, but he thinks I’m acting like a spoiled brat. He says that if I feel insulted, I’m a big girl and should stick up for myself. I feel that, because it’s his family, he should be sticking up for me. What should I do?

Kate says…
Yes, you are both right. If his family is treating you with disrespect, you have a duty to yourself to insist that they do not. Show them you are not a person who accepts that kind of juvenile nonsense. Not to get all Oprah on you, but if you treat yourself with respect, and if you set an example with your actions and your words, they will start seeing you as someone not to be messed with. This is harder to do if you’ve already allowed the pattern of rude behaviour you describe to become established in your relationship with them.

 

Bret says…
The other possibility is that you are hateful or boring or off-putting in some way, and your in-laws are just responding like any sane and reasonable person would, and your common-law is hiding the truth from you. Here are three quick questions to ask yourself. And be honest. 1) Do you baby talk to grown-ups? 2) Are you kind of a downer to be around? 3) Does your breath stink?

 

You’re welcome.

Can I still go out with the girls as much once I get hitched?

Kate says…
If you’ve pinpointed going out with your girlfriends as a possible problem, is it because it’s a problem now? In that case, you should come to an arrangement with your partner because any problems you have now won’t disappear in a sprinkling of pixie dust when you walk down the aisle. Or are you assuming it will become a problem once you’re married? In that case, you should take a look at your expectations for marriage. Throwing a wedding isn’t going to change the way the two of you relate to each other.

 

Bret says…
I suspect that “the girls” aren’t really girls, and that you’re actually a guy who likes his hockey with many pitchers of macrobrew and many 60-inch plasma screens and many platters of wings and, especially, many other men. That’s OK. You don’t have to give that up. But you are a loser for fudging your gender in your question. Admit your love for man evenings.