These are the women that write relationship books and dominate TV talk shows with bigoted advice. In my lifetime, I never offered my advice about marriage or any romantic relationship though I am full of opinions. I have discovered that many men discuss their serious marital problems with the proper authority –their bartender. Nevertheless, I recently found myself in the uncomfortable position of giving love affair advice to my 23-yearold son.
Last month, I drove my son on the 500 miles trip from Southern California to Northern California to enroll in the University of San Francisco. He had just graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Georgia and was now headed for his Masters. On the trip he spoke openly about a great concern. His dilemma was whether or not to send for his girlfriend to share an apartment with him as she did in Georgia. To send for her meant that he would lose his eligibility to live on campus. To rent an apartment or room for the two of them off campus would cost much more money. As he asked for my advice, I actually wondered if we should stop for a drink and talk to a bartender. However, to fast forward, he and his girlfriend are now living happily together, with my blessings, in their small-overpriced room in downtown San Francisco. Although my son knew my relationship choices, including the one with his mother, has not served me well he nevertheless sought and heeded my advice. If I were an honorable man I would have recused myself on the grounds of incompetence. I don’t believe that people with several failed serious relationships are qualified to advise. Being a relative or an elder should not exempt you from the proper requirement of having a good track record.
As fate would have it, my 34-year-old schoolteacher daughter recently emailed me with a two page list of questions concerning her pending decision to accept her boyfriends’ marriage proposal.
Again with a little uneasiness, I rose to the occasion and thoughtfully answered approximately twenty no nonsense questions.
After I emailed my completed questionnaire, she called me and we spoke nearly two hours on the subject. Since those two experiences, I have concluded that children trust their parents’ wisdom regardless of their track record. However, I stand firm and draw the line at advising friends on their marital and relationship situations. The way I look at it, if you have totaled two or more cars, whether or not it was your fault, you shouldn’t give driver lessons.
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