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Parallax - Advice

July 25, 2005

Family ties that bind

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question! My father's brother is getting married to a woman my father hates. My uncle is pushing sixty and this will be his first marriage. I love him, but he is not exactly what I would call a 'great catch'. He is overweight, bitter, a Mama's boy, unclean and a little sexist. He does, however, have a lot of money and my family surmises this is what his fiancée is after. My father and mother feel she is bordering on being verbally abusive towards him and feel that in a couple years she'll leave him depressed, and take half his money. My parents are distraught and I don't want my uncle to get hurt. How do we talk to him without alienating him? Every time my parents try, he becomes more bitter and is pushed closer to the marriage. Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Family Feud,

It's a bit of a Catch-22. In all likelihood, nothing you say will deter his chosen path of having anyone rather than no one. He is probably lonely and realizes that, given his bank account, he can at least score a gold digger. I'm sure he knows his heart throb is not in this for love, and he is willing to pay that price—literally.

You may take a literary approach and write him a long email or letter summarizing all your concerns, expressing them in a respectful and loving manner. This way, tempers do not invade the conversation and you mitigate the risk of the discussion turning distasteful. If he still chooses to ignore you, there is nothing you can do. He prefers to have this option rather than no option.

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His view:

Dear Family Feud,

Let him get hurt and lose half his money, if that's what's going to happen. At sixty, frankly, I don't see why he shouldn't be left to make his mistakes in peace.

I can sympathize with you and your parents. Who wants to have that kind of aunt or sister-in-law? But if you're right, it'll only be two years and your uncle will be better off after for the experience, even if he also ends up a little poorer.

He doesn't have to end up poorer, though. This is exactly the sort of situation that prenuptial agreements were designed for. Instead of trying to keep him from marrying the gold digger, insist that he draw up a contract.

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