Q. Dear Rachel,
In the past month, I got married and moved in with my husband. The other day, I was organizing our closet when I found his collection of photo albums. I opened an album at random and found some old, vacation pictures of my husband with his ex-girlfriend. When I confronted him about the pictures, he got angry and told me that I have no right to snoop through his things. He thinks I’m acting immature for asking him to destroy the photos, while I think he’s being disrespectful by holding on to memories with an ex. Who’s right?
— Signed, Disrespected
A. Dear Disrespected,
I can’t say that one of you is unequivocally right or wrong in this situation. Your marriage should be custom-built to suit the needs and desires of you and your husband, and no one else. There’s no official rulebook on marriage, with a list of do’s and don’ts. Therefore, it’s up to the two of you to determine how to make your union thrive. You each make a valid point in regards to the photos of his ex. On the one hand, let’s face it — he married you — not her, so does it really matter that he has some photos of her in a dusty, old album in the closet? Should he have to destroy all signs of the life he had before he met you? On the other hand, maybe you’ve discarded your own photos for your husband, and you feel it’s only fair for him to return the favor. Whatever the two of you decide, be careful not to slip into society’s idea of what your marriage should be. Many people will tell you what you or your husband “should” do in various situations, but ultimately it’s up to the two of you to make up your own rules.
Getting married and moving in together are both big life changes. You and your husband may both be feeling more sensitive than usual during this time of adjustment, so be extra compassionate with each other as you settle into your new life together. To ensure a harmonious marriage, choose your battles wisely. Your new partnership signifies a deeper level of commitment, and requires a greater need for compromise. If you decide that you can’t compromise on the issue of the photos, you may be able to convince your husband to concede. However, if he gives in to this conflict, know that it may be your turn to give in when the next conflict arises. Over time, you’ll learn when to stand your ground on an issue and when to relent for the health of your marriage.
Q. Dear Rachel,
I recently went on a date with a man who was cheap at every turn. He didn’t tip the valet at the restaurant, he refused to let me try his hors d’oeuvre at dinner, and he snapped his fingers at the waitress and then spoke to her so rudely that I felt ashamed to be seen with him. After dinner, I was so disgusted by his behavior that I faked a sudden illness so that he’d have to take me home. I haven’t returned his calls since. How can I send this guy the message that I don’t want to date him because he’s cheap?
— Singed, Too Cheap To Date
A. Dear Too Cheap To Date,
This guy isn’t just cheap; he’s straight out rude! And since sensitivity isn’t his strong suit, you’ll have to be very direct when you tell him to kiss off. He’s obviously clueless when it comes to common courtesy, which means you were wise to wrap up the date before he snapped his fingers at you.
For the record, anyone who’s callous to restaurant employees will also be callous to you if you let them (hence the lack of sharing with the appetizer). Additionally, your date’s stingy behavior was a red flag that he’s an overall self-centered creep. In other words, the man deserves to be dumped.
Next time this guy calls, don’t bother beating around the bush. Be straightforward and tell him that you didn’t appreciate his rude behavior during your date, and that you don’t want to see him again. It’s not your responsibility to make him a better person, but your honestly might be a critical, first step on his path to a much-needed wake-up call.
Rachel Iverson is a freelance writer, dating coach and author, who lives with her husband in Venice Beach. Her book, “Don’t Help A Man Be A Man: How To Avoid 12 Dating Time Bombs,” has been endorsed by Dr. John Gray, author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. For more information on Rachel or her book, visit: www.rebelgirlpublishing.com. For dating advice, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.