DEAR AMY: My wife and I have an ongoing dispute that threatens our family, which includes two young children, ages 2 and 5.
I have a desire to visit my guy friends with overnight visits once a month and occasional longer trips with my brothers or guy friends about once every two years, to go skiing, camping, to the beach, etc.
This seems to be too much for my wife, who makes a big stink. She feels I should only care about family and never leave her alone to take care of the kids.
I've offered to have my mom watch the kids while I'm gone, but that's not good enough. Also, I beg her to take similar trips with her friends or her sister while I watch the kids. She declines or says she can't work it out.
She has given in to my demands occasionally, but it is only after lengthy arguments.
Do you think I am selfish or unjustified in my request? — Conflicted in South Carolina
DEAR CONFLICTED: The answer to your question is "yes" and "yes." A monthly overnight with a biennial trip with the guys for a longer duration (conveniently unspecified) is too much. It might not be too much for some families, but it is too much for yours. I know this because you characterize this as a "demand" that threatens your family.
Most mothers and fathers would love to take a fun overnight break from a 2- and 5-year-old 12 (sometimes 13) times a year, but building a family together requires that parents not have one foot out the door.
You don't mention wanting a monthly poker night after which you roll home in the wee hours. You need an overnight. When you make your demand, this is what your wife hears: "I don't enjoy being a husband and father. I must escape our family as often as possible." She is trying to control you because she is afraid you will flee for an overnight and simply keep on running.
You and your wife need a night or two together away from the kids to reconnect as a couple and figure out a compromise that sounds less like a demand. You should plan this.
DEAR AMY: I am in my mid-20s, and I have been with my boyfriend for six years. He is from a traditional Hmong family, and I am Caucasian.
His family doesn't approve of our relationship, and they would like him to only date Hmong women. His parents refuse to even meet me (after all this time), and he is having trouble standing up to them. I love him, and I would like to get married in the near future, but our relationship seems to be at a standstill.
I support his culture, but his parents won't give me the chance to prove myself to them. I have expressed my frustration to my boyfriend, but he continues to make excuses. Will he ever stand up to his parents, or am I in a dead-end relationship? — Worried
DEAR WORRIED: If you reversed the details in this story and your Caucasian parents refused to acknowledge your boyfriend of six years for racial or cultural reasons, what would you do about it?
Wouldn't you find this offensive and unacceptable? Wouldn't you insist on your right to love whomever you chose?
I realize there are important familial and cultural challenges here, but you should not have to beg these people to meet you to "prove yourself."
Your boyfriend should find a way to assert himself that is both certain and respectful. You might need to step away from the relationship to give him some time alone to clarify what he really wants.
DEAR AMY: "Puzzled and Hurt" was upset not to be invited to the wedding of the daughter of a friend of hers.
When I got married, my parents handed me a list with more than 100 names of people we "had" to invite to the wedding. I "had" to say no. — Former Bride
DEAR BRIDE: "Puzzled" was upset because these friends had come to her daughter's wedding and she expected a reciprocal invitation. It just doesn't work that way.
(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.)
By Amy Dickinson