My younger brother told me that he is proposing to his girlfriend of six years. He’s 25 — which, from my perspective as his older sister in a committed, unmarried relationship, is too young to propose. On top of this, his soon-to-be fiancée has extreme social anxiety, which has kept our family from getting to know her well. I am supportive of their relationship because my brother is deeply in love. Still, I know that if I were to get married, I would make sure my partner and I signed a prenuptial agreement. How can I broach the subject with my brother? He’s the first of his friends to marry, and he might not know how common such agreements are or how much one might protect him down the road.
The fact that you and your partner choose not to marry, but would definitely sign a prenuptial agreement if you did, is an excellent argument for your doing exactly that. It has little bearing, though, on what your brother should do. I get that you’re being protective (and a little controlling). Still, 25 is not a child, and they’ve been dating for six years!
For all your strong opinions, and your tone-deaf suggestion that the girlfriend’s “extreme social anxiety” is an inconvenience for your family, you’ve left out most of the pertinent facts here: Does your brother or his girlfriend have any large assets or debts? Does one of them earn markedly more than the other? Do they live in a community property state?
Given that the median net worth of Americans under the age of 35 is $13,900, I am not terribly concerned for either party. Many couples opt for equal partnerships, emotionally and financially, when they marry. If you still feel strongly about this, say: “If I were getting married, I would want a prenup. Have you thought about one?” Plant the seed, then let it take root — or not.
My Costume Is Predictable. So What?
My boyfriend and I are going to an outdoor costume party on Halloween. The other day, I came downstairs and said, “I know what I’ll go as!” Then he said, “Let me guess: a sexy nurse?” He was right, but I found his tone extremely condescending. Do you think I have a right to be upset about this? My boyfriend refuses to see why I might be.
I totally agree with you! Right or wrong in his prediction, your boyfriend communicated his belief that you are unlikely to surprise him (at least when it comes to Halloween costumes). I can see how that may feel diminishing to you.
Now, if this dynamic is limited to costumes, I am not overly worried. (You picked a cliché, after all!) But if your boyfriend often acts as if he doesn’t need to listen to you because he already has your number, that’s a red flag. Talk to him about being more respectful of you and your ideas. This is essential for good relationships.
About That Stack of Mail …
My roommate and I share a mailbox. She rarely checks it. I check it two or three times a week, which I don’t mind doing. I set her stack of mail on the kitchen counter, but days later, it’s still there, untouched. Would it be OK for me to start recycling her mail if she doesn’t open it within five days? I dislike clutter, and I don’t think it’s my responsibility to remind her about it.
I am sympathetic, as it happens, with your roommate’s disinterest in her paper mail: Nearly all payments, bills, periodicals and interesting correspondence come to me electronically these days. And throwing away her mail, without discussing the issue first, seems aggressive.
My advice: Put her mail in her bedroom. Or if you want to keep setting it on the kitchen counter, ask her nicely not to leave it in your shared space for long. I suspect you will do better with the first approach, though; people have varying tolerance for clutter.
Party for One?
We planned a small outdoor party for our young son and sent invitations to his neighborhood friends two weeks ago. Only two people responded: One said yes; the other said no. I’ve reached out to the parents of the other kids to see if they can come, but no responses. And the party is three days away. Should I cancel, reschedule or have the best time ever with one friend who said yes? I’m so hurt! Why don’t people RSVP?
I’m sorry that your feelings are hurt, but I am far more concerned that your son may be disappointed by a turnout of one. Augment the guest list ASAP with friends from school or other activities, then do your best to make the party a blast.
As for RSVPs, I can’t give you the blanket condemnation of your neighbors you may want. Of course they should have responded. But in the chaos of family life, invitations from friendly neighbors (who aren’t exactly friends) may slip through the cracks. (Also, some parents may be stalling because they feel unsure about sending unmasked and unvaccinated children to a party.)
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.