Susan Deitz

DEAR SUSAN: Your reader Gabe wrote about the tendency of women to be constantly critical of their men. I see it in relationships around me and in the press. How many women's magazines claim to show women how to change their men, yet never write about how men should change their women? Men often are unwilling to ask their partner why she wants things done differently, and women are loathe to explain it. My elderly mother was at my house recently, still criticizing the way I run my home. In contrast, my wife rarely criticizes, and when she does, she explains how I can improve -- and praises me lavishly when I do. Of course, that's common sense, but we all know how uncommon it is.

From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: You've made my day by choosing a mate dissimilar to dear old Mom. Too often, people are so brainwashed by what they saw at home that they set up domesticity just like it. But not you, dear man. You may ask your nitpicking mama over for the occasional dinner, but when you shut the front door behind her, you return to the wise and tactful woman you married. She seems to intuit that more change is effected with positive conditioning. With your letter, I rest my case. Choose the mate you feel comfortable with, the one you would choose to be your friend. It's the easier and simpler way to ensure longevity -- for you and your relationship.

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DEAR SUSAN: Our 22-year-old daughter, away at college, is in love with a 45-year-old man who has a daughter her age. She's seeing a therapist; she can't eat or sleep. She rents a room from a couple who say he is a manipulative, unethical sociopath. Our beloved used to be vivacious, outgoing and charming, but is now reclusive. None of her friends can stand this man; she's in danger of losing them. How do we get our daughter to see that what she's doing is destructive, regardless of how much she thinks she's in love?

From the Single File blog

DEAR BLOGGER: Don't bad-mouth the man in question; that would only make him a martyr in her eyes. Point out the negativity the relationship is causing in her life: distancing friends, sending her to a therapist, losing her appetite and zest for life. If this were a healthy, supportive relationship, you'd have a radiantly happy daughter. When clarity finally comes to her -- don't say "I told you so." Have faith she will do the wise thing.