Q: I just turned 26, and I’m ready to be married. My previous two boyfriends dragged their feet and then said the blood-boiling line: “I will marry you…someday.” I met a guy online, and we initiated a relationship on the basis that he was ready for marriage. Four months after our first kiss, I broke up with him after he, too, expressed hesitation about marriage. He insisted that he loves me but is hesitating because I have a drinking problem and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Once a month, I take everything that I love and tear it to shreds — as if in a werewolf state. I come to, devastated by my actions. I need structure and commitment from a loving partner for strength, and an engagement now would help me transcend my conditions. He wants me to do it alone and wants to see improvement before he commits. I want to make him realize how cruel he was in insisting in his profile that he was ready for marriage and not following through.
A: You’re a fierce advocate of truth in advertising — except when you’re the one engaging in the sins of omission: “I’m ready to be married. Oh, also, once a month, I’ll try to rip out your internal organs with a shrimp fork. Any takers?”
Typically, when a man is ready for marriage, he’s looking to settle down with the right woman, not sprint to the altar with the first woman he meets who can fit into a size 8 long white dress. If marriage actually were a cure for alcoholism, people in AA would have florists instead of sponsors, and church basements would be packed with brides tearfully confessing to being powerless before a $10,000 wedding cake that releases a flock of white doves.
You likewise don’t marry a guy because your hormones turn you into a werewolf once a month and you need somebody to bolt the exits so no sheep or cattle go missing. Per psychiatrist Dr. Emily Deans in one of my previous columns, biochemical options for dialing down turbo PMS include the 24-day or three-month birth control pill; the antidepressant bupropion; magnesium malate supplementation (500 milligrams at bedtime); and cycling from a low-carb diet to a higher-carb, low-protein diet three days to a week before your period starts.
At the moment, you’re married to escaping your problems. Addiction treatment specialist Dr. Frederick Woolverton writes in his very helpful book, “Unhooked,” that at the heart of any addiction is avoidance of suffering. Instead of feeling uncomfortable feelings and dealing with them, you hold their little heads down and drown them in a pond of cheap gin. And instead of doing the grown-up thing and working to overcome your addiction, you decide that the “power greater than yourself” will be the groom. But, only when you don’t need a man to feel whole are you healthy enough to choose one for the right reasons. Then you see, over time (a year, at the very least), whether you and he make sense together. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, not a lifeboat to rescue you from your troubles already in progress: “Do you take this woman…to have and to hold, and to hold her hair back as she’s driving the porcelain bus? Okay then! You may now detox the bride!”
Q: My friend is constantly dragging me to parties to be her wing woman. She’s in her late 40s but hits on hot young guys in their early 20s who never reciprocate interest. Guys her age or older approach her, but she blows them off. I’m sick of these depressing evenings and of accompanying her to the mall so she can get “hipper clothes.” Is there a kind way to tell her she needs to rethink who she’s pursuing?
A: How uplifting, spending your weekends watching Generation Y getting hit on by Generation Why Are You At This Party? Of course you want to clue in your friend, “You could wear head-to-toe Forever 21, and you’d still look 49 and counting.” And you could gently suggest she expand her dating horizons to include men who are actual possibilities. But her persistence in the face of failure suggests she’s pretty attached to believing that the answer to her datelessness can be found at the mall. What you can control is how you spend your time. Extending yourself to make a friend happy is nice; subjecting yourself to regular misery is too nice and leads to bubbling resentment. The next time she tries to drag you along, tell her you’re party-weary and tired of the mall…but how about lunch or a hike? Granted, out on the trail, you could still witness the uncomfortable sight of a cougar stalking its prey — but not by changing out of its mom jeans.