Question: I have been dating the man I am currently engaged to for about three years. We are getting married this year. Last year we bought our first home. Prior to this, we both lived at home with our parents; I am 24 and he is 26. We moved into the house and had a housewarming party. My mother told my future mother-in-law and later me that she felt it was inappropriate for us to have an open house before we were officially married.I feel bad for disappointing my mother. However, my fiance and I are both excited about our new life together and our new home. We will be married very soon. We both have good jobs, college degrees and worship in the Catholic church every Sunday. I dedicate three hours every week to singing in the church choir and feel I am a good person with great moral judgment. Do you think our judgment was out of line when we chose to move in together and had a party?
Dr. Laura: Yes. Has something changed, or does the Catholic Church not condone shacking up and fornication? When you say you are a member of the Catholic faith, does that not mean that you define "moral" by the divine authority of God's law - and not what is just exciting at the moment? If you define moral by listing such things as a college diploma (morally neutral unless you cheated to get it) or singing in the choir (morally neutral again), then don't you set yourself up as the authority, displacing the laws of God as taught by your church.
May I suggest that you back up, move out, seek pre-marital counseling with your priest and get yourself back on track before your vows?
Question: My father-in-law criticizes, insults and gossips about others. He comments about people's weight, appearance, race, etc., and openly insults his wife. He is rather disgusting in many ways.
Last year, when I was pregnant, he made a crude joke about childbirth and talked about my weight gain. Although my husband has spoken to his father about his thoughtless words, it creates friction between them. Should I stick up for myself and speak my mind? I'm concerned about the requirement to honor my husband's father, and I feel guilty because I don't love my father-in-law. Would it be wrong to ask my in-laws to stay in a motel when they visit? I feel sorry for my mother-in-law, who isn't at all like her husband.
- Cottage Grove, Minn.
Dr. Laura: I don't feel sorry for your mother-in-law; standing by and allowing evil or wrong to happen is worse, in a way, than the mean deeds themselves. Those who do nothing contribute to the ability of the wrongdoer to continue.
Your obligation to honor requires you only to refrain from humiliating him in public and to make sure his basic needs are taken care of. Nowhere in that commandment does it say you must have love; he simply hasn't earned it.
Yes, it is fair to tell your mother-in-law that with the child and the many demands upon you, it would be more convenient if they stay at the local hotel; you may even cough up the money for their stay. Also, when your father-in-law gets mean, ask him politely to stop, and if he doesn't, pick up the child and remove yourself from his presence without a screaming fight. Perhaps this kind of apparent rejection will make an impact. If not, at least you're out of there.
Question: I am 36 years old, single, never married, no children. I am in love with a 42-year-old single man with one child. We have been dating for four years but are not shacking up. I love this man and want to have children with him. We have talked about having children together. I want to get married first, but he doesn't and wants children outside of marriage.
Should I forget about him and move forward with someone that can give me the kind of relationship and commitment I want? Help.
- Denver, Colo.
Dr. Laura: Absolutely. He doesn't want what's best for children or you. He doesn't want to be obligated past his own comfort zone. There is no real love or security in that attitude.
Question: My girlfriend and I have done everything together except intercourse. She is the first girl I was ever intimate with. She has, however, been with other guys except for the final act.
She believes that she is saving the most important part of virginity. Has she really still saved something special? Please help us out. I am confused on something that is very important to me.
- Virginia Beach, Va.
Dr. Laura: Yes, she has saved "something" but has passed way over the line of sexual modesty. That "something" has ensured no pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. It also shows, if truthful, a particularly strong ability to discipline her passions under "stress" and that she has put a high value on ultimate joining with someone.