Dear Ann Landers, My 23-year-old daughter is engaged to marry a young man I cannot stand. She seems very happy, and that is the most important thing, but the relationship worries me. "Francine" used to date a fellow I adored, but they broke up. He had all the qualities I admired. Her current beau has none of them. "Cal" loses his temper a lot and yells at Francine. I have mentioned my concerns and let her know that if he ever hits her, she can come to me anytime.
Francine is now living with Cal, and they have a joint bank account. He has a so-so job but never pays for anything if he can help it. Restaurant meals and movie tickets are always on her. He has no ambition to attend college, and I am sure Francine will end up supporting him, which galls me to no end. I am civil in Cal's presence but just barely. He constantly puts Francine down, and I invariably find myself defending her.
I have begged Francine to wait another year before making a final commitment, but she refuses. Her brother just married, and I wonder if perhaps she isn't competing with him. Is there anything I can do? -- Pennsylvania
Dear Penn., Yes, you can stop knocking Cal and do your darndest to find something about him to admire. This will baffle Francine. Do not mention the old boyfriend you like, or she will never go near him. Meanwhile, keep busy, and pay as little attention as possible to your daughter's social life. A 23-year-old woman might interpret her mother's "guidance" as interference and marry the guy to assert her independence.
Gem of the Day (Credit Sara Weintraub, age 90, Boston): "If I had everything to do over again, I would care 20 percent less."