Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My brother is dating a girl that my family (but especially me) really does not like. She is constantly changing or canceling plans we have to be together and often doesn’t show up at all. We wanted to like her and even welcome her into the family, but she is making it clear that she is not interested. Help! It’s starting to look like the relationship is getting more serious. How do we deal with my brother and his bad choice of girlfriend? P.G., San Francisco
Sharon: It is really hard for a close-knit family to not have expectations from a new addition to their beloved core group. If you can be honest with your brother and share your concerns without appearing to be judgmental or demanding, I would start there. If you truly want to find a way to include your brother’s girlfriend, then find out what she loves to do and plan a time to do just that. It is a way to let her know that you want to get to know her. She must have some endearing qualities for your brother to have chosen her. Your brother must also be feeling conflicted with trying to please his new gal and his family. Unless you believe she is making him unhappy, I would try and step back and accept the girlfriend on her terms for a while and hope that she will begin to feel comfortable spending more time with all of you. If you love your brother, then trust his personal choices and make time to connect with him when the new girl is not around.
Saul: If your brother really is committed to this girl, then you need to show your brother true support and love. You also may want to make him aware of some of the girlfriend’s behavior that is offending you. I am sure he wants your input and advice.
Alexis: First off, don’t jump to any conclusions that this girl isn’t interested or that your brother chose poorly. There could be a reason lurking behind this girl’s canceled and rescheduled plans, and it may not be as ill-intentioned as you suspect. There’s a chance that this girl simply had a bad string of scheduling luck, or that she’s avoiding the family because she’s nervous about meeting you all. Approach your brother — without judgment —about how you’re feeling. Perhaps he can offer an explanation and you two can set up another time that will stick. Whatever you do, don’t alienate your brother before you find out what’s really going on. I imagine that it’s important to him, too, that his girlfriend get to know you all and spend time with you.
Jessica: I think in times like these communicating about hurt feelings is the best way to deal with the situation. Why not simply talk to your brother and ask if there could be some reason she doesn’t want to spend time together? Instead of pretending that everything is OK, deal with the issue before it gets worse. That’s really the best tactic here. I am sure your brother will be more sensitive to you and your family once he knows how you are feeling.
Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 29 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 27 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 25 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.