IMPROVING ON NATURE Listen: My wife wants to get breast implants. I think she’s beautiful as she is, but she’s convinced she needs a larger chest. She’s already contacted a surgeon and had a consultation. I don’t want her to get them frankly and have told her as much. Moreover I don’t think we can afford them. This is when she mentions that her boss said he will give her a loan. We’ve been married for five years and I guess I’ve always been sort of pussy-whipped. I think I’ve been a good husband but I’m not sure what I would do if she got implants. She said I was overreacting. What do you think? I love her, but the idea that her boss would pay for her new breasts bothers me. Signed, Likes the Natural Look Okay: It bothers you? As well it should. I don’t know, maybe her boss is a good friend, a father figure, someone who she’s comfortable with, and who really has her best interest at heart. Even then, it’s still a little creepy he’d be willing to loan her the money for fake boobs. She’s not a stripper, is she? Because then I could understand this whole story: the need for the silicon, the boss’ help with the payment, you letting her walk all over you for five years. If so, just think of the surgery as an investment. But what if she’s not, you say? Well, all women want to look beautiful, even when their attempts are misguided. I mean, we’ve all seen those poor women who have badly colored hair or who use bronzer on their face and completely forget their neck. It doesn’t matter what you do or what you say, if she thinks she’ll look better that way, who are you to say otherwise? Even if you are her husband. It’s still her body. If she wants to surgically alter it, it’s her choice. The money, however, is a different story. When you made that death do you part vow, you insured your finances were one and the same. Her credit, your credit. My concern is that it sounds as if this is something she really wants. Even if you put your foot down on her boss’ generous offer, she’s going to find a way to finance her little procedure. That is exactly what you don’t want, because that is exactly the sort of thing that leads to long-term problems later. My suggestion: make a deal with her wherein she can get the surgery after she saves up money for a year or two (or more). If she’s willing to make sacrifices on other things and still wants her girls to grow after all that time, it’s something she needs to do. And if she’s not willing to make sacrifices, she doesn’t want them as bad as she thinks. Listen: My father passed away a few months ago, leaving my 62-year-old mother alone. She lives a few hours away in Mississippi in the house I grew up in. She never really had a job, other than a few years teaching day care, but she quit that when my father got sick. My brother and I assumed after the funeral she’d go back to work, but she decided not to. When I asked her about it, she said she had enough money to live on and a lot of things at the house to sort out. My parents were married for 37 years and were rarely ever apart. I went down there to see her a few weeks ago and was shocked at how much she’d changed. The strong woman I left after the wake has shriveled into this sad, old lady. I called my brother and we decided that we had to do something. We don’t want to place her in a home, but my older brother lives in an apartment in New York, so that’s out. She can’t stay at her house by herself. My brother assumes that she’ll come live with me, but I’m not sure I’m financially able to take her in. I’m a single mother with a small daughter and right now everything is already so difficult. I know I’m being selfish, but I just don’t know what to do. Signed, Mommy’s Little Mom Okay: There are lots of things I could say: With family comes responsibility. Your parents did the same for you. Stop being such a spoiled brat; your mother needs you. What I am going to say is that you need to look at the glass again and see if it’s not half-full, instead of half-empty. I think the right thing to do here is invite your mother to live with you. Her husband of almost 40 years just died; it’s understandable that she’s depressed. But just because she’s 62 doesn’t mean that she’s ready to be shipped away and written off. You said that you left a strong woman behind at the wake; that strong woman might reemerge in time, but she’s going to need help. That doesn’t mean that if she moves in with you now, she’s going to stay forever. She might shake off her blues, find things she cares about again, and move out. It sounds as if your current living situation is putting a lot of stress on you as it is. But I think your mother will help that, not hurt it. I can’t think of a better reason for her to zing back to life (and maybe even teaching again) than by living with her granddaughter. Think back to other generations and other countries where all the extended family live together; not that I was there, but I assume it was really helpful to have the older folks taking care of the wee youngest ones while their parents went to work in the fields or something. This is a win-win situation; I hate to say it, but your daughter gets to spend time with her grandmother and you get a built-in babysitter. Your mom had enough money to stay by herself; she’s not going to be a big mooch on your resources. And really it’s the right thing to do. Here’s my final word on the subject. It sounds as if you and your brother have discussed extensively what your mother needs and wants. But I think you might want to ask your mother what she wants. She’s 62, not two, and she might want to stay right where she is. If that’s the case, none of this matters.

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