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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 4, 2005; 12:00 PM

Carolyn takes your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

Appearing every Wednesday and Friday in The Washington Post Style section and in Sunday Source, Tell Me About It offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that's about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

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Boston, Mass.: Dear Carolyn,

It takes me a long time to process my emotions. Someone will say or do something that upsets me, it takes me by surprise, and I don't say anything at the time. If it continues to bother me after the fact, it takes some time for me to figure out exactly why. Once I do, I always feel better when I can talk to the offender about it, but it is always weird to bring things up out of context, and I don't want to be passive aggressive. Do you have any suggestions for how I can learn to process things more quickly or less jarring/awkward ways to start the conversations?

Carolyn Hax: I don't know that there's any way to rewire yourself to process things faster. In fact, I think it's probably better that you take some time to figure out why something upsets you, instead of just reacting.

As for less awkward ways to start an after-the-fact conversation, the easiest way is just to acknowledge the awkwardness upfront. "This is going to sound awkward/weird, but I've been thinking about something you said the other day."

If you did this to me, come to think of it, I wouldn't think it was weird or awkward at all. What you might need most of all is to stop being so hard on yourself.

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Nowhere: Carolyn, or 'nuts,

I have a friend who I think has an eating disorder. She looks skelatal and avoids eating and exercises like a maniac. I want to say something, but I'm not sure what. I'm afraid she'll hear "you're too skinny" as "keep up the good work!" And I don't want to be a nag. But I've become concerned she'll do permenant damage. Other friends say that she's ok because she's really smart and smart people don't have eating disorders, or that they have seen her eat one or two caloric things, or that she looks great. But really, bean poles look obese next to her.

Thanks for the help.

Carolyn Hax: That smart people don't get eating disorders is one of the dumbest things I've heard in a long time. Just in case you were at any risk of actually listening to these "other friends."

And while I'm knocking things down, being skinny isn't necessarily a sign of an eating disorder. Skeletal, yes, but that actually can be in the eye of the beholder.

The under-eating and over-exercising, on the other hand, both are red flags, so you're probably right to be concerned. Just in case, though, please do some reading: www.edap.org.

Conveniently, that site also has a section on how to talk to a friend you think is in trouble.

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OMGville: So I've always had this little crush on my boss. I was behind him when we were going up a flight of stairs, and he made a joke about me walking behind him. And without thinking I cracked back with "I always walk behind you so I can watch your (short word for rear end)."

I'm happily married, as is my boss. I would totally never do anything. It's just a harmless little thing THAT USED TO BE INSIDE MY HEAD that makes work more fun. Help! What do I do!!

Carolyn Hax: Act like you kept it INSIDE YOUR HEAD and from now on keep it INSIDE YOUR HEAD.

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Re: Boston, Mass: How do you deal with other people who have a problem with your slow emotional reaction time? I have the exact same issue as Boston, and I have friends/family members who get incredibly upset that I bring things up after the fact instead of dealing with everything on the spot. Their responses usually go somewhere along the line of "there was a time and a place to address that." Any thoughts as to how to deal with this?

Carolyn Hax: "I agree, and wish I could have brought it up then, but it wasn't until I gave it some thought that I realized I had something I wanted to say." It's an honest and reasonable explanation, and while that doesn't guarantee that people will accept it, it does mean that anyone who doesn't accept it is being a doink.

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The Big D, and I don't mean Dallas: My husband and I have been separated since last December after he cheated on me and left me. Recently we were working on reconciliation, including counselling and living together again. I told him on Friday that my heart isn't into reconciling anymore and that I can't go through the drama and heartache anymore. He does not want to divorce, and has said that he will not "give up on us." He remembers the bad decision he made when he wanted to split up in the first place and thinks I'm doing the same thing. My question is, how do I communicate to him that I really think its over and we need to move on? I know I just need to be strong and stick to my guns, but its sooooo difficult! Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: I don't usually like to give such specific advice in a situation like this, since the only "right" thing is to trust and respect yourself, which can take so many practical forms. But it really sounds like you could use some time off from this issue, from counseling, from trying, from seeing him every day, from feeling like crap. Tell your husband that if he's serious about not giving up and not letting you make a bad decision, then he will honor your request for an X-month breather from each other so you can think clearly. Then do it. Relax, think, breathe, remind yourself who you are and what you like and what makes sense for you. Then, after that, I think you'll have the courage of your convictions, without which you can't make a good decision, much less stick to it.

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Re: Boston Mass and Re: Boston Mass: I wonder if people get upset, not because of the delay factor, but because they don't want to hear what you're saying, for one reason or another. The only time I think someone has a right to complain is if something is brought up over and over again, when the other party thought it had long since been resolved - but, otherwise, I'm with you, Carolyn, it wouldn't bother me at all if someone brought something up after the fact. Of course, sometimes it takes me a while to process what bothered me about a comment too. But delay, in and of itself, without endless repetition, doesn't seem like a cause for complaint or embarrassment to me. We all process things differently, and at different speeds - so what?

Carolyn Hax: Thanks for the endless repetition point--so true, and so important a part of the after-the-fact-discussion issue.

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Springfield, Va.: Re: today's second letter. Since Grandma is the writer's mother-in-law, it would be interesting to know what the writer's spouse thinks about the situation. If spouse is OK with Grandma's strange gift giving practices, your advice is probably the best idea for them. If spouse also disagrees with his/her mother, then it's his/her place to tell Grandma to knock it off. But, in general, kids are pretty quick to figure this stuff out and Grandma is the one who will be sorry in the end.

Carolyn Hax: I agree that it would be the spouse's place to say something, but I still think it would be wrong to say something. It's not anyone's place to dictate how others handle gifts. If she were being overtly cruel, that would be something else ("Here's a gift ... just kidding!"), but bringing toys and then taking them home again doesn't qualify, I don't think.

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Re: Boston: Hi Carolyn -

Might be worth mentioning that those of us who are introverts need that internal process before we figure out (1) how to react and (2) what to say. Extroverts figure it out by saying it; introverts have to think it out before speaking. So if you do this, just realize that's what you need to do...

Carolyn Hax: Mentioned. Thanks.

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Slow emotional response: I once dated a woman who pulled the old "slow emotional response" trick every time she wanted to pick a fight. She'd say she felt fine about something at the time it happened, then days, weeks, or months later she'd bring it up again to criticize me, claiming it was something that she didn't realize how much it bothered her until she thought about it.

Carolyn Hax: Obviously there has to be a statute of limitations, or maybe just a statute of oh-brother. If it happens occasionally and you aren't asked to give a pound of flesh every time, then, okay. But if it becomes a pattern of manipulation, then the person is rightly relegated to person-I-once-dated status.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,

I have an odd problem. I fall for people quite easily. What seems to happen is that if a man shows any type of interest in me, platonic or romantic, I start to focus a lot of energy on him and I find myself saying "I've never felt like this before." Last night, when I was saying this for the third time this year, I realized I had felt this way before but I could not seem to figure out why I get so easily attached to these people. Realistically they could all be decent friends, but I'm afraid my quick to develop crushes may get in the way. Any suggestions?

Carolyn Hax: One, that it's probably going to change now that you're aware of what's going on. And if it doesn't (or if it takes a while), just use your awareness to put some brakes on yourself. Or, alternately, to enjoy the big-crush phase knowing full well it's just a big-crush phase and not a precursor to monogrammed towels.

BTW, you'd be doing yourself a great favor if you could figure out where this comes from. I can't even guess from what you've written, but it could be so basic as a soft spot for approval (which could stem from something so basic as a hard-to-please parent). Just some examples to get you thinking.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn, Love your chats/column. I made the mistake of having a relationship while I was married (separated). Not long after divorce was finalized so was the new relationship. How do I proceed, I feel so lost? I never dealt with my upcoming divorce when I was in the other relationship now I have to deal with the end of a marriage AND the end of a relationship? I'm just bummed.

Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: It's possible the new relationship -was- your way of dealing with the emotions surrounding your failing marriage. A way to feel good about yourself when all you could feel was bad.

If there's any truth to this, then it's probably a good thing the relationship ended; as your need to feel better dissipated, so would the things you had in common w/new person. You got through it all, you're okay (if bummed) and you've got a chance to start clean (which you'll appreciate more as you feel less bummed). Faith, patience, and judicious use of leftover Halloween candy as needed.

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Michigan: I have a job that I enjoy, the people I work with are great, the hours are nice, and the pay is good. But the job doesn't really challenge me, and I don't really feel like I'm learning new things or developing. Does that mean I should be looking for a new job, or for changes at my current job, or should I just accept that no job is perfect and this one is pretty good? I'm 29, if that makes any difference.

Carolyn Hax: If you're asking these things, then you shouldn't change anything until some answers start to emerge. Waiting and seeing isn't the worst thing. You don't want to rot there, obviously, but you also don't want to make a big push for new challenges at work only to find you want to leave the company entirely, today.

In the meantime, nothing to lose by working harder at the job you have. Start actively looking for ideas for doing what you do, only better.

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Remember me?: I'm the one who wrote in saying I'm going to have a newborn baby at the same time I have a nice vacation scheduled in the Florida Keys. Well, I did talk to the resort and they agreed to give me a decent refund. However, now only one month later than I originally planned to vacation, I find out my best friend is getting married! And it's an out of town wedding! at a beautiful beach resort! And I'm asked to be a "bridesmaid"! Do I say yes and take this baby to this beautiful resort where they are having this wedding?

Carolyn Hax: I remember, yes, of course. Glad to hear the resort was willing to work with you.

And hoping you have a sense of humor, now that you're back in the same spot. Wow.

Though not SAME same. The month between the two trip dates is really important. With your vacation, you were flirting with the possibility that your baby would be born late (I think it's common practice for doctors to let overdue moms go up to two weeks past their due dates, and some even longer), but with the wedding that won't be an issue. If you want to go, then, sure, try to go, but I would do a few things to make it easier on all involved: 1. Decline the bridesmaid thing. You don't want anyone counting on you, and you don't want to pre-pay for a dress, because you want to be able to back out at the last minute if necessary--which means 2. Looking into trip insurance, and booking with an eye to the possibility of canceling or changing your tickets. 3. When you do book, talk to the hotel people directly about accommodating babies.

4. Send postcard.

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RE: Michigan's job: Do not underestimate the importance of working with people you like. This is not an easy thing to come by!

Carolyn Hax: Or working with people, period.

Love,

A slightly deranged home-office detainee

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Bar Harbor, Maine: Carolyn,

How do you respond to "we were VERY VERY OPPOSED to daycare so I decided to quit my job and stay home with my child rather than have some daycare provider raise her in my absence" when I do use daycare because I need to. Grrr. And this person is a very close friend of mine. I wanted to slap her. I feel like she totally insinuated that I wasn't doing the best I can do for my kids.

Carolyn Hax: This person is a very close fried, so SAY something. "I'm really angry/hurt/upset that you were so vocally opposed to day care when I have to have my kid in day care." Or the less confrontational, "Day care isn't all bad, and some of us not only need it, but also believe in it."

Your friend probably doesn't even know she slapped you. And I'm confident she has no idea she just slapped all day care workers--as if they're not human and don't form any attachments to the kids they look after! I point this out as someone who didn't appreciate this myself until I took a closer look.

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Chicago, Ill.: Please answer!

My fiance's obvious choice for best man is his longtime friend. Though usually a great guy and very supportive, his friend was not supportive when we moved in together before getting engaged. (He's a conservative, religious guy). Moving in together was the most important and best thing we did as a couple, second now only to our decision to get married. Should my fiance waive this recent lack of support in lieu of all the years they've been such good friends? Seems to me like the friend disapproved of us during one of the most important (and happy!) steps of our relationship.

Carolyn Hax: He's conservative and religious, he wasn't going to support your moving in together.

If he was a jerk about his objections, or if his friendship with your fiance suffered because of them, then I can see considering this issue come best-man time. But if the friendship is intact and he was decent about adhering to his beliefs, then call it one of those agree-to-disagree moments and resist the urge to hold a grudge. Isn't he entitled to his integrity?

And really--unless he was a jerk about it, who cares if he frowned on your living together?

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Holidays and Weight: In the past two years I have gained about 30 pounds, which my doctor thinks is due mostly to a medicine I am taking and a possible thyroid problem. Before that (I'm 27) I was always slim. I am not looking forward to going home for the holidays because my dad lectures me about my weight and tries to get me to exercise and eat right and generally talks to me like I'm lazy and gained it all by sitting around and overeating. I am dreading going home for the holiday and have put all this pressure on myself to lose weight by then. I don't really get along with my dad as it is and I'm wondering if you can give me some ways to make my holiday visit easier.

Carolyn Hax: 1. Print out information to show your dad that your medication causes weight gain, which you can hand him wordlessly when he starts his first lecture.

Or, 2. Tell him thanks, you've heard the same rumors he has about diet and exercise.

Or, 3. Don't go home for the holidays. You are 27, it isn't compulsory, and it isn't worth it if it makes you more miserable than happy.

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Re: Trip insurance: Carolyn, the pregnant woman who has been invited to be a bridesmaid would have to read any travel insurance policy she bought very carefully. Most travel insurance policies have exclusion for existing conditions, and if she's pregnant, buys a policy, and then has to cancel her trip because of complications arising from her pregnancy, she most likely will find that her travel insurance policy will not pay off. You have to read those things VERY carefully before you buy them.

Carolyn Hax: Right right about reading the policy carefully first, since a lot of things specifically aren't covered--but since this is for two months after she's due, I was thinking more of the baby's health. I wonder if her health postpartum would be excluded. Interesting. Thanks.

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For Bar Harbor: Is it necessary to take that statement so personally? She declared a value for herself. Does that value have to be applied to everyone (or used as a measurement of whether someone is doing the best for their child)? Could it be that Bar Harbor may have doubts that sending her kids to daycare means she's not doing the best for her kids?

Carolyn Hax: Whether it's taken personally does depend on the person hearing it, since defensiveness on this subject is towering, famously so. But it also depends so much on how a statement is phrased. If the poster quoted her friend correctly, then I think she did have grounds to be miffed. The use of "raise," when she said, "rather than have some daycare provider raise her in my absence," is loaded as hell. Parents who use day care aren't NOT raising their kids just because they choose day care, nor are they paying people to raise them in their absence. Ack. It's a team thing. Parents raise them 168 hours a week, 128 of those hours actively. Other caregivers actively raise them 40-ish. (And if you want to subtract sleeping time from my 128, you need to visit my house overnight some time.)

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Re: Holidays and weight: ...or,

4. Tell dad that the medication you're taking has led to weight gain, and that it's hard enough on you as a person who has always before been slender to deal with the weight issues. That you understand that he means well by urging you to exercise and eat well, but that right now it's like lemon juice on a paper cut so can he please understand, show some compassion and unconditional love and not say anything?

Carolyn Hax: Clap clap clap clap.

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Re: Last Week's Chat: Not to beat a dead horse, but I was just reading last week's archive, and I had an alternate thought on why one might not want to live together before marriage (apart from religious reasons). By living together before marriage (or some other form of staying together commitment) you learn how to live together in advance of commitment, which teaches you a different style of living together then you would learn after commitment. You can't function as quite the same team if you aren't commited to that team. Financially you are likely going to want/need to preserve your independence. Socially as well. And your interactions with your partner are going to be different too. This is why couples that have lived together for years still find it different once they get married (or make some sort of equivalent in their hearts if not in a legal sense commitment). It just may be an easier path if you don't need to unlearn living together before commitment (marriage) habits.

Carolyn Hax: Hm. I see your point, though i have two objections to it. One is more of a qualification I guess--that some people who choose to live together actually do commit to each other fully. There's no one state of mind/commitment going into these, just as there isn't one with marriage. There's a range as broad as the range of people involved.

Second is that I'm not sure you're giving people enough credit for flexibility. Adaptibility may be the better word ... but, anyway, same idea. I think the way couples interact can and does evolve, constantly, during the course of their time together. To use the extremes, some married couples become strangers under one roof, while some arm's length cohabiters, like you describe, grow so close that putting their commitment on paper seems extraneous.

Objections aside, I think this is a great thing for couples to think and talk about before they move in together.

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Washington, D.C.: Carolyn -- Am about to break up with my current boyfriend for essentially the same reason that I've broken up with several previous ones -- being too clingy and unable to understand or accept my desire for time apart. My question for you is, how do I figure out why I seem to keep attracting this type of guy? I know there must be plenty of independent-minded guys out there, so I'm wondering what I'm going to keep ending up with the clingy ones. Grateful for any insights.

Carolyn Hax: Counseling. I could throw out a bunch of theories, but they'd be devoid of the very facts you'd be able to present to a therapist. Just choose carefully, spill honestly, and think of it as a treatment regimen for a specific problem--no different from, say, X weeks of physical therapy to get your knee to work right.

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I Am Legion...: I had the same problem with sudden massive weight gain (though mine was 90 pounds, no kidding). It was finally determined after years of having people tell me I was lazy and ate too much that I had PCOS and a thyroid problem. So... I got a note from my doctor, which I handed to family members when they got on my case. If your doctor is a person with a sense of humor, or even if she is just on your side, she'll probably not mind writing it at all.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. More on this ('tis the season, after all):

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Re: Holidays and Weight: One thing that worked for me in a similar situation was just saying "If it bothers you that much, I can go home." (In a tone of voice that implies that you just really don't want to be a bother).

The first time I said this, the relative in question continued harping on me. So I went home.

I never had to say it a second time.

Carolyn Hax: Presumably it wasn't because you were never invited back. Thansk.

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Arlington, Va.: RE: Holidays and Weight

My dad did the same thing, although when I was younger, because he is a heavy man and didn't want me to end up the same way. Done out of love, but (as I later realized), spurred me into years and years of food obsession and ravaging my body. Sometimes psychological damage is worse than weight gain. After he realized that what he said was helping me destroy my body, he never again mentioned weight with me. Dunno if there's some helpful way of explaining this to him.

Carolyn Hax: This example could help, thank you.

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Re: Holidays and weight: I decided to not go home for the stressed-out Christmas "celebration" one year and had NEVER felt so calm and peaceful on a holiday before. Its so liberating to not have your parents badgering you or watching the screaming fits because there was so much straining to have the "perfect" celebration.

It's wonderful to celebrate what the season is all about, even if you have to do it alone!

Carolyn Hax: Last one, thanks.

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Manassas, Va.: Hi Carolyn: I'm almost crying as I write this but I need help. My dog, the family pet for 19 years, might have to be put to sleep in the next week. How I can prepare or help myself get through this? I love her so much its going to hurt a lot. Thanks

Carolyn Hax: It is going to hurt a lot. You just remind yourself how lucky you've been for having 19 years of the kind of love you can't imagine life without. And you cry in sheets. Hang in there.

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Brookline, Mass.: Carolyn, is there any tactful way I could nicely ask my girlfriend to, on occasion, wear a bit of makeup? She's already lovely, and I don't want a painted doll. But a little lipstick and blush do wonders. I take pains to tell her how great she looks whenever she does this, but that in and of itself isn't working, I hate to sound shallow but there it is. Thanks for your help.

Carolyn Hax: Set an example: You wear it.

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Glenview, Ill.: I'm 32, girlfriend is 33, I love her and things could be getting serious. But she worries about everything! She worries all year about whether her parents and sibs will like their painstakingly selected birthday and Christmas presents. She worries about whether she will look good in her bridesmid dress at her sister's 2007 wedding. She constantly worries about getting fired even though she receives outstanding performance evalutions and cash awards, and works for the federal government where it's nearly impossible to fire even total incompetents. I've told her, gently, that I wish she didn't worry so much; and asked if there's anything I could do to make her less anxious. I know anxiety is often related to depression, but she doesn't seem depressed. She also seems to be part of a large, close-knit, loving family. Do you have any suggestions? I really do love her, but this constant anxiety is starting to wear me down.

Carolyn Hax: Then she might not be the girl for you.

But it could be she does have an anxiety condition that doesn't involve depression. She knows you wish she wouldnt' worry so much. So ask her if -she- ever wishes she didn't worry so much. Then, if the answer is yes, you and she can talk about her getting screened for a disorder, or getting into therapy, or whatever makes sense.

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Anywhere but Austin, Tex.: A few weeks ago, my father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. My husband, my closest friend and partner in all things, is out of the country. (That's one person, not a badly mis-conjugated verb.) Then just recently, I learned that my father's cancer had spread, and that my husband broke his leg.

My father will soon get the results of a second biopsy, and will probably start an aggressive round of chemotherapy soon, in D.C. My husband went to South Korea to give a demo on behalf of our small business, but may need to remain there a few weeks until the cast comes off.

Even knowing that I can't directly ease their pain or help their circumstances, whichever city I'm in, I'm struggling with whether to fly East or West... or stay here, take care of our business, and wait for another x-ray or biopsy to tell me where I am most needed. My friends and family say "listen to your heart," but my heart is torn in two and doesn't have an "Enter question" text box. How do I listen?

Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry for all the hard news. Your answer might be the same as the one I gave the bored employee earlier--wait, take care of your business (since that is one choice on your list) and see whether your answer comes to you.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Your advice to New Jersey left some things out. The man needs to see a lawyer pronto. He has certain rights and responsibilities. After birth of the child he should demand DNA tests to confirm the child is his. He should demand a court order establishing his responsibility for child support payments. He should also demand visitation and a role in the child's life, not by some private understanding with her, but under court records.

He should also through his lawyer offer to pay for half of her medical expenses. He should investigate with his health insurance immediate health coverage for his child, immediately after birth. This is both morally the right thing to do and legally will help establish his rights long term.

Basically he needs to take his share of the responsibility and assert his rights in the matter. Failure to do so will only lead to long term grief.

Marriage should be out of the question for now and his girl friend was right to be appalled. He should marry her for her, not for the sake of his and her baby. However, whether she or he likes it, they are in a long term joint relationship because of the baby. That relationship is a lifetime.

I agree that joint counseling is best, but even if she does not agree he should get help from a therapist to talk about his feelings.

Carolyn Hax: Ooh, almost forgot to post this. Thanks, G'burg.

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Laurel, Md.: Hi Carolyn,

I love your columns and chats...

A quick question on modern etiquette. If you've accepted an invitation to a (somewhat informal) dinner party, which if any are valid reasons to cancel (i.e. would not offend a good friend)?

1. A friend from out-of-town unexpectedly calls and will be visiting that day.

2. Unknown to you, your significant other has accepted another invitation on your behalf.

3. You and your significant other find that that's the only weekend for a while in which you can have a getaway.

Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks.

Etiquette is mercifully clear on this--you can't back out for better things, only for worse ones.

So only 2 qualifies as a valid reason to cancel, but only if your SO did the accepting of the other invite before you accepted your friend's. (Otherwise SO gets to deliver news to other party that s/he made a mistake and you can't be there.)

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Bummerville: Just read the columns from the last week or so, and now I'm totally bummed out. Fine answers and such, but I could use a little fluff. I mean, I get that people don't write in when everything's hunky-dory, but the bam-bam-bam of real dilemmas has left me pretty saddened.

Can we chat about bridezillas with bacon pants and asshats or something today? I want to laugh at other people's petty perceived problems, not think about all the real pain in the world.

So, my family is healthy, my friends are true, and my colleagues are fun. I've lost the baby weight and then some, and tonight my husband and I are playing poker against people with lots of cash and not much skill.

Okay, I just made myself feel better. Eh, who needs you?

Carolyn Hax: So I can go now?

Probably should anyway. Thanks everybody and type to you next week.

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Carolyn Hax: Bunch o comments incoming:

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For Anywhere but Austin: You don't die from broken legs. And your husband knows he will be able to come home to you. Your father (a widower, I'm assuming) doesn't have either of those assurances. Take care of business and buy a ticket to DC for a weekend when your dad is out of his chemo cycle, so you can walk around together.

Carolyn Hax: ...

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Baby: "After birth of the child he should demand DNA tests to confirm the child is his. "

What? Since when was the baby in question conceived in a suspect way? They were together 7 years, for crying out loud.

Carolyn Hax: ...

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RE: Best Man: Doesn't the bride pick the maid of honor, groom pick best man?

Carolyn Hax: Each is allowed an opinion on the other, I would hope.

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For Anywhere but Austin: I know I'm not you, but if I were in your situation, I would go to your dad. Cancer is more serious than a broken leg. This could be the last time you have to spend with your father. Your husband will likely recover just fine, and in the meantime, he can take your support by phone.

Carolyn Hax: ...

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re: new-mom bridesmaid: Tell your friend you can't go. You wish her the best and that you'll get together after the honeymoon. Promise to gush all over the pictures and buy a nice gift. But DO NOT go.

I went to my brother-in-law's wedding out of the country whne my son was 2 months old and it was a nightmare. I'll spare you the detailsm, but I wound up staying there for two weeks while my son was in the hospital and deemed stable enough to travel. And this was in a place where none of the family/friends lived, so I was all alone.

Really, skip it.

Carolyn Hax: ...

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Bar Harbor - again: Just to clarify, I did quote her correctly. I only wish I could let everyone hear the tone she used.

Carolyn Hax: I'm guessing many already have.

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D.C.: Response to Travel Insurance Mom-to-be: From my experience with travel insurance you have to be pretty much dead in order to get any reimbursement! And in the worst case deliver your own death certificate...

Carolyn Hax: Sounds painful.

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Chicago: To respond to the eating disorder ... Actually, smart individuals are MORE likely to have eating disorders. The starvation/control aspect appeals to their perfectionist nature. That's just an FYI.

Carolyn Hax: ...

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Reston, VA: For people always ending up dating the same kind of guy and recommending counseling... what kind? where do you look/find one? I always date selfish, noncommittal types.

Carolyn Hax: Try a Marriage and Family Therapist. Google the term and you should get their association site.

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Nagging Dad: My Dad died last month, at a young 65. He pushed me and nagged me and drove me crazy, and he loved me. Not to trivialize how frustrating it can be to go from slim to various degrees of less slim, but once in a while we have to remember to say, "Thanks for caring about me, Dad. I love you."

Carolyn Hax: Enough said. Thanks.

_______________________

"Appalled" in New Jersey:: Hi Carolyn,

I'm the appalled ex-girlfriend in today's girlfriend. Actually, I wasn't appalled. But I don't want to marry someone who said he didn't love me, or could lie about not loving me. I want what's best for our child, and two rational, cooperative parents are in my mind the best thing. He was right: we bickered a lot and it wasn't working. I sought counseling on my own, and he refused your suggestion of joint counseling. (He "doesn't believe in it.") I just wanted to thank you for responding to his question and in turn giving me some insight. I hope he is incredibly involved in this child's life, and my initial decline of his financial support was meant that he didn't need to support me financially, as he offered. Of course he should support his child. (And yes, I have told him this.)

-The Ex

Carolyn Hax: Thank you--it's a rare treat to hear from a third party. Good luck with everything, and I'm sorry he blew off the counseling.

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