A free personal online advice column
November 21, 2005
I have a really sticky situation I need help with. When my mother-in-law died a couple of
years ago, she left me her entire jewelry collection. At the time, my husband's brother was
not yet married, and my husband had a daughter from a previous marriage, so I suspect she left
the jewelry to me because she knew that I would take good care of it and pass some of it along
to my stepdaughter when she was old enough. Since then, however, my husband's brother got
married, and they have had children. I wanted them to have some family heirlooms, so I gave a
very beautiful, very antique, very expensive diamond ring to my new sister-in-law.
Well, now they are getting divorced. My brother-in-law is not being very aggressive during the
divorce proceedings at all. I want the ring back. It's a family heirloom and it should stay in
this family. I don't trust her to not sell the ring, let alone trust her to pass it to her
daughter. How do I handle this without it turning into a war?
You're right. This is a sticky situation. I don't really see a peaceful way out of this one.
First, I would try explaining it to your brother-in-law, and how much this ring means to you.
Let him try to get it from her amicably. However, if the divorce gets messy, I suspect that his
wife will focus on keeping the ring for the simple matter that he wants it. I really do hope
that she will see that the ring really does belong in your family, but should she prove to be
difficult, then you might have to start pursuing the ring legally. After all, you have your
mother-in-law's will proving that the ring is legally yours. Good luck, and, please, let me
know how it turns out.
October 11, 2005
I need some advice on how to handle a woman. Who better to ask? Here's my situation: I am
recently divorced and a recovering alcoholic. My ex-wife was also an alcoholic. Since I've
been on my own again, I have been doing a lot of activities and things that will continue
to let me grow as a person. This includes seeing a therapist to make sure that I stay
mentally on track. Through my therapy, I have been prescribed to take anti-depressants.
So far, they have been working fine and I have had no problems. However, there is one snag
I need a little help with.
You probably know that anti-depressant medications can cause sexual dysfunction, and I am no
exception. Now that I am back out in the dating world, not drinking anymore, taking
anti-dperessants, the concept of being with a girl for the first time and not being able to
obtain or maintain an erection is terrifying and extremely embarrassing to me! I have a
prescription for Viagra, so the problem is fixable, but should I be unloading all of this
information on a new date right up front like this? I don't want to take a pill without
knowing that I am going to be intimate, but I don't want to just flat out ask a girl if I
SHOULD take a pill. And then again, it can take 45 minutes or so for the pill to kick in if
I take it... How should I handle this?
Dear Fear of Intimacy,
You don't realize that you have a golden opportunity to impress a lady beyond belief here!
No, I agree that you shouldn't be unloading all of your past and present problems onto a
girl that you just started dating. You'll want to feel more emotionally secure with someone
before you start sharing such intimate details of your past. However, this is the 21st
century, and, more than likely, physical intimacy tends to happen a lot sooner than
emotional intimacy these days, doesn't it?
Luckily there is a simple answer to this question. You are with a girl, say, within the first
three dates, and you haven't spilled all the horrors of your past to her yet, however, you
feel some physical intimacy happening. What to do? You certainly don't want to stop the flow
and tell her you need to pop a pill, do you? You certainly don't want to stop and destroy the
mood by explaining WHY you need to take this pill. Of course not! How many times have you
heard or read about the way women complain that men don't spend enough time on foreplay?
Ummmm... I'd have to say about 99% of them.
Excuse yourself to the restroom (quite a common practice for couples who are about to be
intimate) and pop your little blue pill. You now have a window of 45-60 minutes where you
have nothing better to do than to impress the living daylights out of her by taking the
time to explore her body and get her so turned on that she will be bragging about your
"skills" to her friends for the next week! Go slow, take your time, and don't even let her
try to reciprocate. Tell her you want to worship her body for a while. She'll walk away
thinking you are the greatest lover that ever lived! And she'll be none the wiser to your
September 18, 2005
I recently started renting out a house with 2 of my friends from high school. We graduated a
few years ago, and have remained friends since, best friends. One is a guy, and the other a
girl. So we were really looking forward to living together (2 girls and a guy) and it's been
fun, but in just 2 weeks we had an incident where about 3 cases of beer went missing... No
one really knew who it was but we suspected. (Friend of a friend kind of thing... Which we
found out to be true.) Well my guy roommate decided to kick out the friend out and not allow
her in the house, without our consent, and now he has proceeded to kick another one of our
friends out because of yelling. We don't want him to control the house but he keeps saying
that if they come over then he will move out! I don't know what to do! These are my friends,
but I need him to stay in the house - we can't afford it any other way. Recently when he
kicked the last person out, he went too far, and he pushed my girlfriend and shoved me on the
stairs. I don't know if this is a preview of more to come or what! HELP! I dont know what to do!!
Dear Out of Control,
Well, it sounds like your roommate has a slight little problem with anger don't you think?
When you live with someone else, and this includes in a marriage, not just with roommates,
there have to be certain boundaries established. Your male roommate is not respecting these
boundaries, and he needs to be made aware of this. If he is having a problem with one of your
friends, or with one of your female roommate's friends, then he needs to discuss it with you
or her and let you or her handle your own friend. By skipping this important link in the chain
of command, he is not only disrespecting your friends, he is disrespecting you and your other
roommate. Not to mention that physical violence is NEVER an answer, no matter what the
Before you approach him about this (because I fear that he will get violent again) have a male
friend there as sort of a chaperone. Also, before you talk to him, start making inquiries
about replacing him as a roommate. See if there is anyone you know that might be looking for a
place to live. When you have a back-up already lined up, it will be easier for you to talk to
him and not let him threaten to move out, for his threat will hold no weight. If you honestly
believe that he will calm down and be a better roommate, then only you can judge whether or
not you will trust him to stay there. But the fact that he physically harmed you during a
scuffle is a BIG RED FLAG and you need to be rid of him as soon as possible.
July 5, 2005
I have a problem and I don't know how to fix it. I've been dating my boyfriend for 3 months
and I don't know how to tell my parents that i have a boyfriend. My parents are
old-fashioned and they dont want me to date. I am 19 and my boyfriend is 20. I love him,
but I am scared to tell my parents. My boyfriend lives in another city from me, and he
wants me to move in with him and his family. I am very close with his family and I know
they love me. But i dont know how to let my parents know everything. Please, Jenn, help me.
Dear Ready to Live,
I have a feeling that your parents might be more understanding than you might think they
will be. They may be old-fashioned, but the fact of the matter is that 19 years old was
a very respectable age to date in their day, and it was even respectable in their parents'
day. You obviously care very much about their opinion and I would hope that they are very
grateful for that. There are VERY few people out there that would have waited this long
to get involved in a relationship, regardless of what their parents said or thought. So
I commend you for the values and principles that your parents have instilled in you and
that you have chosen to carry on!
However, I don't believe that moving in with your boyfriend after you've only been seeing him
for three months is a good idea. I believe the logical thing to do in this situation is to
start breaking in your parents slowly. Maybe you could mention that you've been spending time
with this man amongst friends first. Then you could mention that you have been socializing
with him on a personal level. Perhaps you should have a discussion with your parents about
the fact that you are now 19, and you have developed feelings for this person. How old were
your parents when they began dating? Eventually, he should come to the house to pick you up
and meet your parents. You may experience some resistance at first, but if this man is a
good man and worthy of your attention, your parents will accept him simply because of the
fact that he makes you happy.
Above all, though, do not try to by-pass several steps here by being their daughter who
doesn't date at all one day to being their daughter who wants to move in with a man she's
not married to the next. You would need more time to adjust to such a change, and so will
they. Give them that time. And DON'T jump into living with your boyfriend too fast. Give
yourself, your boyfriend, and your relationship more time to develop before you take such
a drastic step. And, above all, GOOD LUCK!
May 27, 2005
I have a friend who is a supermodel based out of New York. She's been covergirl for several
leading publications. Additionally, she has been in virtually every designers show during
fashion week for the last 10 years. As if that were not enough, she has cameoed in several
movies and appeared in music videos for many top R&B artists. So what is my question you
may be asking at this point? Well, here it is. My friend has begun a gradual decline into
what appears to me to be far beneath her standards. She has begun speaking ebonics and has
even started to wear nail jewelry. She has grown her toenails out long and paints them
garish colors with nail enamel all the while wearing high heeled open toed strapless
sandals. Her dresses have risen to a level where most would consider them only a shirt.
Between the two of us, I question as to whether or not she even wears the proper
undergarments any longer.
I suspect that she has fallen in with the wrong crowd and may be experimenting with certain
illegal substances. Do you think I would be out of line to question her? Would she just deny
it? Am I just being prejudiced because she has become 'ghettofied'? Please Jenn, tell me what
the proper line of approach is in this circumstance.
Dear Concerned Friend,
It is normal to be concerned about someone when they begin to change their appearance so
drastically like that. The fact that you are so worried about her shows how much you
deeply care about her. However, be prepared for the fact that if you confront her about
this, your love and caring will not come across so evidently to her.
Being that she is a model, I'm assuming that she is quite young. It's normal for young people
to want to be individuals and express themselves visually in ways that others may find
offensive. I know I've done my share in the past! ;) Perhaps you could be subtle enough to
question her about her social activities and try to figure out if she is truly associating
with questionable people or experimenting with drugs. Don't interrogate her, just act as if
you are interested in her life. If you can't find any concrete evidence that she is indeed
behaving in a self-destructive manner, then I would have to advise you not to pursue the
matter further. Sit back and trust that she will grow out of this eventually.