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Q. I have been dating this guy for over a year now. When it got close to Valentine’s Day, he told me he had a gift for me. However, every time I have met up with him since he told me this( which has been a total of 8 times), he tells me he forgot to bring my gift. We usually meet up for dinner at a restaurant or go to the mall and walk around. I’m thinking he couldn’t have forgot my gift this many times. Why does he keep telling me he got me a gift and then every time he meets up with me he tells me he forgot it? What is the point of this?

A. Your new guy wanted to look good for Valentine’s Day by having a present for you. That is what his buddies were doing with their girlfriends and wives. However, he didn’t think of it until 5 minutes before he saw you. He meant well.  He gets half a star for at least thinking that he wanted to give you a present. So, he said he had one for you. It was mentally not physically.

There is no gift.  You have several options:
You can drop it altogether.
Or perhaps teasingly when you are out, and something is available right then and there, say “Forget the Valentine’s gift.  I’d like that luscious piece of chocolate” (whatever).
You may be walking by a new coffee shop. You say “Hey, instead of that Valentine’s present, I want a large latte with loads of foam at this coffee shop. Let’s go in.”
 Or say “Since I didn’t get you a present,  skip giving me mine.”
The point is to move on and stop talking about the present, if you want to continue in this relationship.

Q.  My husband and I are separated and still live together (platonically) because of the children.  I feel trapped but want to give them a home with two parents.  Am I doing the right thing?

A.  The divorce charity Resolution, did a study which showed that 82% of kids said that they would rather have their parents split up, than to stay together for their sake. They want happier parents. Could your children be in that group? Children pick up on tension and emotions that we feel are well hidden. They also take more notice of our actions, than our words. Would you want your kids as adults, to be in a loveless relationship if they felt trapped? I think not. Consider leading the life that you would want for your kids, even when that means as a single parent. By staying chained to a person you do not love, that keeps you both from finding happiness with someone else.

Q. My husband, son and brother-in-law all have Asperger’s. They are all super strong control freaks an must be obeyed. I wonder if this is different from narcissism?

A. Asperger’s is a genetic brain condition, and Narcissists may develop their personality disorder  at a much later date. One prominent psychiatrist won’t even diagnose narcissism until after age 25. Asperger people have their quirks and challenges, but they are not out to get you. Their behavior is frustrating, not intended to be mean.   
Narcissists’   goal is retaliation against you, even if that means using the kids as pawns.  Narcissists can have quite nasty behavior and want to be constantly in the limelight, which is a opposite from someone who has Asperger’s.
I have worked with kids who have Asperger’s and they certainly were not malicious in any way, maybe a bit stubborn.
Narcissists can be very malicious and can’t take any criticism.

Q. Do you think the court is biased against fathers?  Seems like they give more custody (shared time) to the mothers.

A. I am familiar with the court system in your city and have received complaints from women that it is unfair to them. I am not sure if it is particular judges who making proceedings more difficult, or the legal system where you reside in general. It is happening to both genders. I went through collaborative divorce and felt better having some say in my outcome and not wondering what the judge would decide. A man I know, was extremely pleased with his court experience when divorcing a woman with diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder.

Q.  I have three daughters who are under 12 years old.  I lived sporadically with their father before he died, but we never married.  Now his father (my girls’ grandfather) wants to legally take the place of  their father.  He said this way he will be able to give them support, including financially. I may want to move to California to be with my family at a later date.  My “father-in-law” is insisting upon this, so what shall I do?

A.  Your “father-in-law” can still contribute to your daughters financially without setting up anything in a legal manner.  If he  legally becomes their adoptive parent, he may also be granted legal custody.  This means that he would have to agree on decisions you make, such as their schools, medical issues, religion and other concerns.  You also may not be able to move out of state without his permission.  Why don’t you reassure him that he can see the girls and have a relationship with them?  Let him know that you appreciate the financial help that he has bestowed upon your family.  He could set up a 529 plan which formally helps with their education or medical expenses, plus may have a tax benefit for him. I would be firm that you want him to continue to be a grandfather and not a father presence in his granddaughters’ lives.


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