November 30, 2016

That Crossword Isn't Everything

Hey, Bonita…

Dear Bonita,

Every week, my girlfriend and I enjoy an important tradition together: solving the Flagpole crossword. Unfortunately, this past week’s puzzle was disappointingly easy for us. We spent very little time completing it, and now our entire weekend’s schedule is thrown off kilter. What’s more is that we didn’t get a full dose of weekly cooperation practice. Now we’re afraid we won’t be strong enough to push through day-to-day problems together. Can you help us, Bonita?

Star-cross(word)ed lovers

You two like to do the crossword together so you'll learn to cooperate better as a couple? I think that's great, and I love how you've found a fun way to work on yourselves together. Crossword puzzles are cheaper than therapy, and don't require dragging up past issues and baggage. Seriously, bravo to you star-crossed lovers. That's clever as hell!

But don't rely on this weekly practice to the point that you fall apart without it. It's important to hold on to lessons learned from therapeutic activities and apply them when we're not in those environments. Weekly cooperation practice should mean that y'all are getting better and better at it, so if you have a light week or miss one completely, it shouldn't be so bad. Maybe go grab a New York Times and try their puzzle out when ours doesn't feel so challenging, or just have a rest day and feel proud of the hard work you've already done.

What do you think about that new Tribe album?

Ah, thanks for asking! I was wondering if people got the reference!

I went on a trip the weekend it came out, so I listened to a lot of it during the drive. It's as solid as any Tribe album—true to the group’s style and lyricism while feeling appropriately modern. For these guys, making music is an act of love and revolution. I'm so happy they're still doing it.

I'm getting married next spring. My mom thinks my dad should walk me down the aisle, but he took off when I was 3, and I never saw him again until I was a teenager. He didn't even stick around after that, and I've seen him maybe once every other year. It was always just me and Mom, since I'm her only child.

Basically, I have no relationship with this man at all, but my mom is very traditional and is pressuring me to find him and at least invite him to my wedding. I don't even want him to attend! If anything, it's my mom's brothers who should walk me down the aisle, and not someone who is little more than my sperm donor. I keep telling Mom this, and she keeps insisting that it's the one thing that would make my wedding “perfect.” I do not want this man at my wedding! How do I get this across to my stubborn mom?

Sit her down and explain to her that it's your wedding, not hers. It's your day, and you're the one who gets to decide how and when it is “perfect.” If your perfect wedding is a dad-less one where all of your uncles walk you down the aisle, she should be OK with that.

But you mentioned that you're her only child, so I can imagine that your wedding day is gonna be as momentous for her as it will be for you. She'll be letting her baby go to start a family of her own, and I bet that's terrifying for her. She probably feels like she's losing you in some way, and that's probably scary as well. Maybe she wants the three of you to all be together one more time, just to “play house” and get a feel for the nuclear family that y'all never were. Or maybe she just wants to make another pass at Dad for old times’ sake. Who knows.

Either way, she's pushing you towards a decision that would benefit her, not you. If she wants to see Dad, she should reach out to him on her own, but you are absolutely right to keep him away from your wedding.

Need advice? Email, use the anonymous form at, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.