Dear Margo: The Answer Is Not Geography

My husband’s job is about to take us to the other side of the world, but I don’t want to leave: Margo Howard’s advice

The Answer Is Not Geography

Dear Margo: My husband recently received a lucrative job offer in another country (Australia) for a new employer. While I am excited, he is so respected in his work that I feel left out. Four weeks ago, I moved to Utah (where we are now) to rejoin him after a year of separation. He is often gone for work-related travel, and I am just getting used to life here, including job hunting and going back to college. Before this, we moved from Nevada to California for his job.

I kind of want my own identity, and I am still getting used to living with someone again. I feel somewhat selfish thinking of myself, but I spent three years in limbo in California. Part of me just wants to send him away and stay here on my own. I don’t want to hinder this opportunity for him, but I don’t wish to give up a life I could create for myself here. Is it selfish to decide to stay put, making my own life again? He’s not a bad guy by any stretch. — Lonely in Utah

Dear Lone: This decision must be yours. I would think the deciding factor would be the guy, not the place. (Though Australia happens to be wonderful.) I grew up in a home where my mother was willing to (and did) move numerous times. Her oft stated philosophy was, “You go where the grapes grow,” and that’s why as a little girl I thought my father was in produce. I believe anyone can make a life anywhere, but if you’re not committed to your husband and the marriage is on the ledge, stay where you are. Good luck doping this out. — Margo, independently

Persona Non Grata for a Specious Reason

Dear Margo: A close female friend of my boyfriend (she’s 38) is getting married, and according to the bride, I am not invited. My boyfriend of two years had an affair with a friend of the bride some months ago, and as a courtesy to this woman, I am “persona non grata” at the wedding. My boyfriend has promised to try to convince the bride to invite me, but he is otherwise helpless and undecided because he does not want to miss his friend’s wedding.

This situation is very hurtful to me. The affair happened during a period of time when my boyfriend and I were getting back together after a short breakup. This affair caused me a lot of pain, but I swallowed my pride, turned the page and am giving this relationship a chance. We are both putting in a lot of effort, and it is paying off: We are going strong and are talking about the future. Now this wedding situation is making the affair resurface again. I feel humiliated by the bride, and also by my man. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on what to make of this situation, and what to reasonably expect of my boyfriend. — Distressed

Dear Dis: Undecided your beau may be, but helpless he is not. He should tell his close friend that, without his significant other, he will be unable to attend. There is no reason the bride should be carrying water for her friend at the expense of another friend. (A side issue: Your fella may have to weigh just how close of a friend the bride-to-be really is.) You can’t make your boyfriend see things your way, but do tell him this situation is coming dangerously close to “it’s her or me.” I, personally, would not think much of a romantic partner who was indifferent to my feelings and threw me under the bus so he could go to a wedding. — Margo, emphatically

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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147 Responses so far.

  1. avatar JCF4612 says:

    LW1: Australia is fabulous … give it a shot.
    LW2: Margo nailed it. Quite simply “it’s her or me.”

    • avatar Obediah Fults says:

      Wouldn’t it actually be, “It’s she or me”?

      • avatar angelmother3 says:

        No, it is, “It’s she or I.” The reason is that, first of all, “her” is parallel with “me”. Both are in the objective case. You don’t mix objective and nominative cases. Thus, “she” is parallel with “I”. In this situation, one needs the nominative case. When you say, “It is…” you need the nominative case, a pronoun that is parallel with the subject of the sentence.

        If I were faced with this situation, my grammar perfectionism would probably be forgotten, and my ultimatum to my SO would likely come out, “It’s me or her!”

        • avatar Robert Smith says:

          Actually, where the start of the phrase is “It is..” wouldn’t the objective case be correct for both, being the object of “is”?  (Just trying to keep with the vital issues here…)

          Personally, I think LW1 should say that the boyfriend going without her “ain’t gonna fly”.

      • avatar Margo Howard says:

        I was being coloquial!

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          Just be glad you didn’t use “its” for “it’s,” Margo.

        • avatar Obediah Fults says:

          Aw, I was only teasing. Besides, I thought everybody would jump on my split infinitive rather than my rhyme.

          My grammarian grandmother and her BFF/fellow-teacher used to have a running private joke. When either one would telephone the other she’d say, “It is I. Do you know who ‘I’ is?”

          When I quote you on Facebook, I always preface your words with, “Me heart Margo!” I don’t know why I started that, but now it’s a running schtick on my FB wall.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      I’ll stand by “her or me.”
      Think of it this way: What’s being said, from a grammatical viewpoint, is “You must choose either her or me.”

      Direct object.  

  2. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – I feel as if I need more specific information.  You elude to many moves with you being left behind – Nevada to California to Utah.  Were you left behind due to your decision or for his?  Are there children?  All of this factors into the decision.  How long is the job there going to last? You really need to give a lot more info for us to help you.  Part of me thinks you are whining and should go with him but another part says there is more to this tale than you tell.

    LW2 – This would be a deal breaker for me.  If he goes to the wedding and leaves you home, I would not be there when he got back.  To chose the friend of the woman who he had the affair with shows where his loyalty lies.  Pack up and move on.

  3. avatar Constance Plank says:

    #1- Me, I’d give a lot to be in your shoes. I adore traveling, seeing new things, and meeting new people!

    But, this is your life. Do you want to work on building a life with the husband you must have once loved enough to marry? Or, are you done? Being in limbo, and with a year of separation, doesn’t sound very positive. Wanting to create your own identity does. Do what your gut tells you you should. Your husband can be the most respected man in any business since the inventor of the wheel, but if you aren’t happy and longing to be with him, then you probably need to stay put and invent your own life for you.

    #2- If your boyfriend actually wants to be with you, he should decline with thanks. If he wants to go to the wedding more than he wants to take care of your (rightfully) injured feelings, well, that’s very useful information about your possible future life together. Me, knowing what I know now, I’d dump him and go for a guy who really wanted me.


    Constance in the Sierra Foothills

  4. avatar BeanCounter says:

    I’m incredulous that the BF would even consider going to the wedding without his partner of two years. the bride’s actions are also strange. her friend helped a man cheat on his girlfriend, yet the GIRLFRIEND is uninvited? really? Bizarre logic there.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      The other friend has to be invited, or a member of the wedding party.

    • avatar K Coldiron says:

      I was thinking exactly this, BeanCounter. The girlfriend is persona non grata and the cheater is accepted into the flock? Really weird.

    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Pure speculation on my part that I try not to indulge in, but I wonder if the bride is really trying to get the boyfriend to the wedding alone for her friend.  Most of us know of people who end up in bed with other wedding guests, in many cases due to the nature of weddings and excessive alcohol.

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        That’s what I was thinking. The bride or her friend is trying to hook up again. For those who said she is a cheater or he cheated is possibly incorrect. She said it happened while they were on a short break & getting back together. To me, that says, in his mind, they were likely not together (committed) and therefore, it wasn’t an affair. My conclusion to all of this is dump the guy.

    • avatar greenmusic23f says:

      I’m glad you brought this up, Bean. I could hardly read the rest of letter two or Margo’s reply because I was still stuck on the cheater being invited but not the innocent girlfriend.

  5. avatar Deeliteful says:

    LW #1 – You don’t mention how long you have been married, but I’m getting the impression that you and hubby have spent more time apart than actually living together. It’s hard to be in a marriage alone. Again, my impression, but it seems that hubby is furthering his career with different employers without considering how you are affected. I don’t think you are being selfish to want to pursue your own career and/or education. Also, you say you and hubby have been living apart for a year because of his job and that you have recently been reunited. Now he wants to move to Australia? Is this a pattern for him? If so, it seems that your marriage is not high on his priority list. (Military folks, please understand my comments are not directed to you and your family members.)

    You and hubby need to have a serious discussion and come up with a 5 year plan that is doable for both of you. If you can’t, your future(s) will almost certainly be separate. Better to know that sooner rather than later (after children are involved).

    • avatar amw says:

      My only question would be, when they met and married, did he have this job that required him to travel? If the answer to that is yes, this isn’t about him taking her thoughts into consideration but rather about her having changed her mind about marrying a man whose career requires frequent travel and moves.

  6. avatar ZippyDoDa says:

    LW2…You need to grow up. BF and GF come and go, but friends are forever. If the tables were turned, I am sure you’d be whining about not wanting your friend’s former lover’s girlfriend creating a scene on your special day. This is clearly a power struggle for you and you need to relase your grip.
    Let’s face it, with most weddings comes an open bar. Alcohol plus a sore victim (the bride’s friend AND you) does not bode well for picture perfect moments. How would you feel if you had to break up a fight in your wedding dress? Nothing says classy like having the police at your reception. Jeez, lady…its not all about you!
    So, suck it up and deal with the fact that your BF is going to go to the wedding in support of his friend. If your relationship is as strong and progressive as you claim, then you will be fine. Plus, by not freaking out and having a drama queen moment, you will certainly score points for being the better person.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Seriously, were you drunk when you wrote this—or are you just insane?

      • avatar ZippyDoDa says:

        Neither. I am just realistic.

        The LW is pissy b/c her feelings have been hurt. Unfortunately for her, this is a fact of life-you aren’t always going to be invited places nor are you always going to go everywhere you significant other goes.
        I seriously doubt the bride set out to piss off the LW. She wants a nice day and is taking steps to ensure that. The bride probably said something along the lines of this and the LW got her panties in a twist.
        I suspect the real culprit behind this is the LW’s fear that lover-boy will once again get intimate with his fling. Understandable to be insecure with the relationship history, but if you cannot build trust back up, then you might as well break it off for good.

        • avatar Michelles11 says:

          David…must be insane.

          • avatar Karen Ferguson says:

            Wow. I thought Margo’s advice was so spot-on, intelligent and objective that I never expected anyone at all to disagree, much less to the extent of telling the letter writer to suck it up. If one person should be “not” invited, it’s the girl friend who intruded into an ailing, but not broken, relationship. If both women are invited, it’s the bride’s girlfriend who should “suck it up.” But in the end, Margo’s advice is still the best. No need for the letter writer to be in agony throughout an afternoon with the “other woman” inescapably in view. Surely the boyfriend is closer to the woman he’s living with than to a friend who has no respect for his life. A polite but firm decline is absolutely in order.

        • avatar Jrz Wrld says:

          Yeah, friends are forever, and significant others can come and go. But my friends would never say “since you illicitly slept with my friend, your significant other isn’t invited.” That’s literally insane.

          I expect a certain amount of maturity and reasonableness from my friends, as I do from my significant others. If they can’t rise to the occasion when it is needed, I don’t need them.

          LW2, DTMFA. He’s a loser.

      • avatar Margo Howard says:

        David –
        “Seriously, were you drunk when you wrote this—or are you just insane?” I must say you’re starting to write like me. Tho this is a rude comment, I believe it to be correct.

      • avatar VJ Dark says:

        Zippy may or may not be insane, but is incapable of reading a letter, or someone’s character, or staying on subject. It’s irrelevant that wedding have drunk people, open bars, and people can’t be invited to everything. Zippy, don’t ever take a job that requires listening, mental acuity, and the ability to read character.
        HellOOooo! It is about:

        (1) a female friend not inviting the girlfriend of her “close” male friend, as a “courtesy” to bride’s friend, because “close” male friend had an affair with brides friend. If she were not a little too “close” and simpering up to male friend and jealous of other women, wouldn’t she not invite the offender who had the affair with her friend? That would be “close” male friend himself! It would not be his innocent-bystander girlfriend.
        (2)Boyfriend’s caring little or none about his girlfriend’s feelings. He seems to care plenty about his “close female friend’s” feelings — and about his own precious self being invited to the wedding. (In which bride’s friend is his former affair partner.)

      • avatar CanGal says:

        she’s obviously never had a significant relationship of friendship or lovers.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      How about this alternative, Zippy? Say the guy goes by himself. Most weddings come with an open bar. Alcohol plus a dateless guy plus his old affaire d’amor could well equal another affair, which may be what the bride has in mind for her friend. There is nothing about LW2’s letter that indicates she has any intention of being a drama queen. If he refuses to take into consideration his girlfriend, this most definitely a deal-breaker, and if the man is not certain if he will go or not, that has to raise red flags for LW2. Most wedding invitations to single guests come with a plus-one, so for the bride to manipulate this situation is really alarming. I completely agree with Margo: it’s either the LW or the highway.

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:


    • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

      Friends are forever, but boyfriend/girlfriends come and go? What type of nonsense is this?  Both boyfriends/girlfriends and friends come and go. 

      Actually, it is about the girlfriend.  She has no right to be invited to a wedding, but she should expect her boyfriend to stick up with her, especially since it is a long-term relationship.  I don’t see why she needs to suck anything up.  I think if the bride is concerned about a fight at her wedding, she should suck it up to realize that her “good” friend will not be in attendance.

      If the boyfriend really wanted to make the best of his relationship, he would not attend the wedding.  It is the bride that put him in this predicament, not his girlfriend.  The person who creates the problem, should not be catered to and he should tell the “good” friend that.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Yeah, where’s Jennifer Riddle and her selective outrage now?

    • avatar mmht says:

      “BF and GF come and go, but friends are forever.” Did you get that from a song? I think it is you that needs to grow up a bit. The older you get the more you’ll learn that significant others and friends come and go. Life takes you in many directions.

      The point of this letter was that her and her boyfriend were trying to work things out and, presumably, try to build a life together. They can not do that if his friends will constantly be excluding her and he sees no issue with it. This bride is controlling and completely out of line. She clearly has no respect for their relationship and the moment she sees her friend leave his girlfriend behind for this event, she’ll try to have him leave the girlfriend behind for every event and probably try to set him up with someone else. If the girlfriend doesn’t stand up now and make it plain and simple “Its her or me” then she’ll be forever second in her boyfriends and possibly later husbands life.

      • avatar gr8tpretender408 says:

        I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the bride as controlling or insensitive.  The bride’s gf and LW’s bf might be very close and important to the bride thus both were extended the invitation.  It’s her day and she has all the rights to invite anybody she wants, and exclude people that may not be significant to her.  It is really up to the guy to either accept or decline and his decision is a good indication on how he strongly feels about working on his relationship with the LW.