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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 9, 2006; 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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North Carolina: Is sending a gift card to the store at which a couple is registered instead of buying stuff off the registry tacky? The money's not an issue, but I just don't get the warm-and-fuzzies over buying people who've lived together for five years a set of drapes for their bedroom... (And paying for shipping, gift wrapping, etc.)

Carolyn Hax: Sending the gift card isn't tacky. Explaining why probably would be.

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Anonymous: Carolyn,

I think you may have missed an important bit in the advice you gave to the neighbor of the 15-year-old girl with porn on her computer.

She's 15. Regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with her sexual orientation, her parents should be told that the stuff is on her computer. That way they can (attempt) to take action to protect her from things they want to protect her from.

Teenagers are going to be curious and teenagers are going to try to get around software that's design to protect them, I know. But she is still under her parents care and its their responsibility to at least discuss what is appropriate for her to use her computer for. Not to mention that accessing certain materials at her age is illegal in most places.

For those reasons, I think it would be fair to quietly say to the parents "Oh, yeah, and there was some stuff on there that probably shouldn't be."

It's also possible that she isn't the one accessing the material. Unlikely, but some sites may automatically put the material there. More probable, another person in the household acquired the material. Either way, to assume too much about the daughter based on the material found would be a mistake.

And either way, the parents should be told so that they can discuss the issue with their daughter. They shouldn't be told the way the writer brought it up though--"Your daughter's a lesbian because of the porn on her computer"--that's assuming too much that can't be proven. But "I found some porn on the computer, you might want to talk to your daughter and install protective software" is another ballgame entirely.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. I agree. I was addressing the we-need-to-tell-them-their-daughter-is-a-lesbian issue, and I still believe emphatically that they shouldn't report it to the parents. But you and other readers called my attention to the fact that hard-core porn on a computer could be a flag for other problems--an infected computer, a teenager in scary chat rooms, another user on the computer--that the parents ought to know about. So, a concerned neighbor should mention that part without drawing any conclusions. Thanks.

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New York: Hi Carolyn,

My best friend has been in the hospital for two days and they are doing a bunch of scary tests and don't know what's wrong. How do I not freak out? (Or rather, how do I stop freaking out, as I currently am.)

Carolyn Hax: Keep reminding yourself that you have nothing concrete to react to yet. If that's not good enough, try to set aside freak-out time. If you've got a lunch break now, go out, let yourself think all the scariest thoughts, and walk them off. Sometimes you end up dwelling on it longer when you try not to dwell on it. Hang in there, and good luck.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm having problems with my fiancee... We just moved in together and his habits are starting to annoy me. How do I adress this situation with him?

Carolyn Hax: Address it with yourself first. Is it really his habits, or is it you? In other words, are you unhappy with him or yourself or with the situation, and are the annoying habits your way of picking an easier fight than, "I don't love you any more"? Are you just scared of being so invested on someone and this is your way of keeping it all at arm's length?

If it is just that you didn't know until now how annoying he is, then you've got a whole other pile to sort through: will time help or make it worse, is it anything he can change, is it anything you have any right to ask him to change, can you stand to give it a chance to settle down, or are you sure enough to move out?

Once you've got it straight, then you'll know how to approach him with it.

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Victim of Momzilla, N.Y.: Hey Carolyn,

Long story short, I found out a few weeks ago that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I've always been an extremely active person, so it was a hard diagnosis, but I'm getting treatment and things are good. A good friend of mine had a baby a few months ago, and my husband and I were set to be the baby's godparents at the christening next weekend. Yesterday, she called me at the office screaming at me about my failure to tell her about my "horrible disease" and how she didn't want me near her child, lest I give it to her kid. I politely explained that R.A. is not contagious, etc.

She continued to ream me out, told me she couldn't believe I didn't call her and back out of being a godparent when I found out about being sick. She then called my best friend and convinced her and her boyfriend to be the godparents to the baby.

Now I feel hurt and offended by Momzilla, and totally betrayed by my best friend that she would be the godparent to the kid of Momzilla, especially after what Momzilla said to me. Am I being hyper sensitive? Best friend told me to "get over it" because Momzilla is just a stressed-out new mom. But I don't think being a stressed-out new mom gives someone license to treat other people this way...

Carolyn Hax: Of course it doesn't. Momzilla's a complete loss (I'm sorry), and your best friend gets one more chance that she might not really deserve, but that might be worthwhile for you if you can get the message across to her that she's actively condoning the behavior of someone who treated you like dirt (out of ignorance and xenophobia, no less) at one of the lowest points in your life.

I'm sorry. I know I already said that but I can't help it.

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Alexandria, Va.: My girlfriend and I have talked about marriage, and we've both decided it's pretty much a "when" rather than an "if". My problem is the timing. I've been married once and engaged a second time more recently. I would like my friends to be supportive but I'm wary of their reactions. One will roll his eyes and say something about how I've done this before, and the other will say why rush it. She and I would rather get married sooner than later, as we're both certain of how we feel. In response to why rush, I'd say why wait. But how do I get over this worry about these two friends of mine, whose support would mean the world to me, but seems like it may be hard to obtain?

Carolyn Hax: You get over the worry by knowing what you're doing.

You'd say why wait? Answer: Because life has already reminded you twice that you can be certain and still be wrong. Or that the things you were certain about can change, just as people and circumstances can change.

But, then, your history can suggest both that you should question your judgment, and that you should trust it now that it's battle-hardened. Which is it? I have no idea. But I do think if it's the latter, you won't really care if your friends roll their eyes.

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For Freaking Out, New York: Find out what the names of the tests are. Look them up on the Web, start researching her symptoms, and arm yourself with information.

It might end up being scary, in which case you might want to think about ways to help her. Do her plants need watering, does she have a cat which needs feeding, is food rotting in her refrigerator? Even if it's not scary, someone should be watching out for the cat!

Highly recommended if it ends up being scary: http://www.sharethecare.org/

Carolyn Hax: And, re the cat, it does help to be doing something other than feeling helpless. Thanks.

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Xenophobia?: How does the fear of foreigners and things foreign have to do with RA?

Carolyn Hax: It's something Momzilla doesn't know about or understand, and instead of educating herself, she'd rather hand out torches to the villagers and run her friend out of town.

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Phoenix, Ariz.: WEDDING HELP! How much input does the groom get in wedding plans? Bridesmaid dress colors? Flowers? Reception location? What is etiquette for their input? As long as the bride's family is paying for the wedding -- doesn't the family and bride make these choices?

Carolyn Hax: The bride and groom learn to communicate.

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It's Not Me It's Youville, USA: I need your advice on something that is pretty sensitive. I have been dating this guy for about four months give or take. He's nice, funny, intelligent, handsome... all the things a girl could ask for, right?

The problem is that I find the littlest things annoying, am not attracted to him, and the relationship is just missing that spark. Some additional background, he has difficulty 'closing the deal'in those intimate moments, but acts as if things are status normal.

I know I need to break up with him, not because of the physical stuff (cause there are things you can do for that) rather the other stuff. Thing is, he is going think that it is about the physical. I don't want to hurt the guy (he is one of those genuine all around great guys), how do I break up with him minimizing the hurt?

On top of all that, I feel incredibly shallow for my reasons... If I were to pull out that list of important qualities in a guy, he'd have them -- I just don't know why I don't want him...

Carolyn Hax: "It's not the physical thing--since there are things you can do for that. My feelings just aren't there."

Or whatever. Basically, you've said yourself everything you need to say to break up with him (plus a bit more that would be gratuitous to say to a person). He's great. He's the guy you'd pick out for yourself, so you don't know why you're not into him. But, you're just not. If no matter what you say, he's going to hear, "You can't get it up," then there's not much you can do about that. Tell the kindest form of the truth, and let both of you get on with your lives.

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Washington, D.C.: Is it normal to not have the toe-curling butterflies for someone that you fully intend on spending the rest of your life with? I've had the PASSIONATE relationships before, but they always fizzled because they burned too hard and too fast. Now I feel like I'm with my best friend, my buddy, and my teammate for life, but he doesn't often make my stomach do flips. Am I doomed?

Carolyn Hax: If "doesn't often" means he sometimes does, and if you're happy physically, then that sounds like a realistic description of bliss. But if it's not bliss to you, then what I say means [nothing].

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San Diego, Calif.: Re Momzilla:

Unless you find out that Momzilla has a medically diagnosed case of post-partum psychological problems, do NOT let her off the hook with the excuse of being a stressed-out new mom.

This kind of baloney hurts all mothers. It is condescending and it gives blanket permission to those around the a new mom that they don't have to take her seriously. If you don't agree with her, blame the crazy mommy hormones.

Carolyn Hax: clap clap clap clap

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,

I had a dream last night that I was necking in a car with my coworker. Please tell me that dreams can be random experiences with no true emotions attached! I've been fretting all day that I've developed a subconscious crush on a completely wacko.

...can't stop fretting!!!

Carolyn Hax: I'm sorry. It's destiny that you will neck in a car with your coworker.

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To Phoenix: Please don't get married. It's clear that you are not mature enough to share your life with that poor man.

Carolyn Hax: A representative slice, like on a package of bacon.

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Re: Freaking out helping her friend: Carolyn, just a general comment about people who want to help friends who are having some kind of crisis. If you really, really want to help someone, don't assume that there is some specific task that they need help with, or even necessarily that they need help at all.

Ask: "How can I help?" and listen to what they have to say, rather than coming to them and saying something like "I can feed your cat! I can water your plants! Why don't you let me cook a casserole to bring over for dinner?"

Sometimes volunteering to do a specific task puts the recipient of your good intentions in a bad spot. Maybe the person you want to help doesn't want you to care for her cats, because she knows you're a dog person and wouldn't understand them. Maybe she doesn't want you watering her plants, because she's noticed that you've never had a houseplant that's lived longer than three months. Maybe she doesn't want you to cook her a casserole for dinner because she doesn't like the way you cook. And maybe she likes you enough to not want to have to tell you things like that, and doesn't want to hurt your feelings by refusing specific offers of help.

Just ask "How can I help?" and listen.

Carolyn Hax: Point taken, but I have a genreal rebuttal to your general comment. I have heard over and over again from people in crisis that "How can I help?" is too general a question for them to answer when their minds are occupied, and that specific suggestions are usually appreciated. If this person doesn't want you near the cat, s/he can say, "No, thank you, I've got it covered." Or even better, if she has the presence of mind: "No, thanks, but would you be willing to ..."

So while I think general offers are fine, if someone has a specific idea, I wouldn't discourage it. Just don't suggest anything if you can't handle hearing, "No."

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Is it Hollywood's fault ...: ... that people seem to think that the falling-in-love butterflies and sparks are going to last forever in a relationship? Don't they realize that those sparks and flames will eventually become warm and glowing embers that need only an occasional poke to flare up again?

Carolyn Hax: Poor Hollywood, such a fat target. Most romantic movies cover falling in love, not being in love--not because the movie industry wants to rot our emotional teeth, but because it wants to sell tickets. "Staying In: The story of two people watching 'The Sopranos' while their babies sleep" (1:37, PG adult language) isn't getting very far along in the production process.

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Re: Alexandria: Uh, can you tell Alexandria not to get married either? You shouldn't be deciding when to get married based on what your friends think.

Carolyn Hax: I thought I already did, in my own incomprehensible way.

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Help in a Crisis: Another option is to throw out alternatives: How can I help? Do you want me to feed the cat, or water the plants, or make some dinners for when you get home? What would make things easier for you?

That may give them an opening to pick one or suggest something you haven't. Sometimes "How can I help" by itself is too big a topic.

Carolyn Hax: Nice compromise, thanks.

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Beantown: One of my roommates is driving my crazy.

Two things: number one, he's a horrible slob. My roommate is a horrible slob. Really unbelievably awful. I end up doing a lot of his dishes and cleaning up after him because I can't bear living in filth. I periodically complain, and he reforms for a couple of days, and then we're back to me cleaning up.

He's also a total mooch. We're both doctoral students, he's been working on his thesis for 5 years, but never does any work. Mostly, he just sits around and reads whatever he feels like reading, funded by his generous parents. This makes him unusually cheap, which means he ends up borrowing what I pay for and using it (like books and rented movies), without ever offering to chip in.

All that said, he is not fundamentally a bad guy at all - quite the contrary. And he does pay his share of household expenses, without making us go too cheap (though I've offered to over-pay my share of the heating bill during the winter if we keep the temperate above 58). My preference would be not to move out, but to get him to wake up and take charge of his life. Am I being stupid?

Carolyn Hax: "Stupid" is such a harsh word. I'd say you were being moronic.

Okay. Affably but unreasonably optimistic. This guy has no interest in taking charge of his life. If you want to live with him, get used to that. If you can't get used to that, move out.

I know you care about this person and are worried about him more than anything else (right?) but helping someone who isn't doing anything to help himself is called enabling.

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The closet: If you're in a same-sex relationship with someone who is clearly unready to be openly gay (or bi, or just dating someone of the same sex), at what point is it time to make the transition from of-course-sweetie-everyone- comes-out-in-their-own-time-only-you-can-know- when-you're-ready to I-can't-be-your-dirty-little-secret- anymore? Closeted one has valid reason to be worried about both family and chosen career if outed, and neither are likely to change soon.

Carolyn Hax: So you ask yourself if you've hit your limit, and if you haven't, you stay, and if you have, you go. My definition of limit being that you can no longer respect this person or like yourself in your current situation.

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Austin, Tex.: If someone you break up with is having a hard time dealing with the truth, is it better to continue communications until all questions/discussions are done? Or just answer until the questions become repetitive and then stop communicating? I feel awful about things but at the same time I don't know if it's better for me to console or go away.

Carolyn Hax: I think a little of both would be most compassionate. Don't cut off the discussion the moment it gets repetitive--that could happen in your second conversation about it--but don't be available to talk redundantly ever after, either. Be very available to talk at first, then a little less so, and a little less so, and etc.

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Wednesday's Column: The girl with the old crush getting married does have a third option. Don't go to the wedding, where watching your old crush marrying someone else might bring up too many old-crushy-type sad feelings. But, call him up, offer regrets for not being able to make the wedding, but tell him it was nice to hear from him and it'd be great to chat and catch up if he has time. She could explore the possibility of renewing the friendship without quite the emotional weight of oh my god all of a sudden I have to watch him marry someone else. (I know he's still getting married, but knowing it attending wedding at first contact in two years are two rather different things).

Carolyn Hax: That works, thanks.

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Ithaca, N.Y.: Isn't it possible that the letter from Phoenix was written by a member of the bride's family, and not the bride herself (like maybe a momzilla)? If so, then if the bride is managing to tick off her family by standing up for her fiance, then it seems to me they have as good a chance as anyone in marriage.

Carolyn Hax: Or better, if they can move at least a day's drive away. To a city without an airport. Thanks.

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Texas: Hi Carolyn,

I realized last week that I am still grieving the difficult loss that happened years ago. I thought I was "over it", but I can't even describe/tell this loss to other people and I seem to be stuck in a deep funk. I have been investigating what I can do to help my situation and it seems to be a consensus that I should accept the loss and let it go. By not doing this, I am reliving the loss as if it just happened yesterday. My question to you (and the peanuts) is, what does acceptance/letting go look like?

Carolyn Hax: What your consensus people either omitted or didn't get across to you is that accepting isn't just flipping a switch, it's a process of feeling, reasoning, understanding, weighing, and whatever else it takes for the loss to make sense to you. And if you don't go through the process for some reason, and you don't get the loss to make sense, you are going to dwell on it years after the fact. How you get there is very personal--people lean on fate, faith, friends, family, science, memory, causes, it's an endless list--but there's nothing wrong with enlisting the help of a professional to help you get there. Please consider talking to someone.

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Just wondering-ville: Why is, do you think, that when anyone starts off a question about a relationship problem, they always begin with "I'm with the most wonderful person that the heavens ever created..." but then usually follow with something like "...except that they're an alien from outer space that keeps me locked in my basement and tickle tortures me 23.5 hours a day"?

Carolyn Hax: Because those 30 minutes are AWESOME.

I think people just hate the idea of breaking up So Much (and its ancillary joys, hurting the alien's feelings, admitting your judgment sucked, wondering if you're ever going to have little aliens, answering people's rude questions about all of the above), that they'll rationalize anything.

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Washington, D.C.: What to do about a boyfriend whom I am very close to and feel I could marry but have doubts about because he often loses important things (wallet, checkbook, debit card, even a paycheck once)? What's worse is that he has no interest in better organizing his stuff.

Carolyn Hax: Does he have any interest in working with you on a solution you both could live with? That's all that really matters anyway. That, and your ability (both of you) to grant loving forgiveness on the occasions when something goes wrong anyway, despite both of your best intentions. If you start feeling the need to punish each other, you're toast.

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Do all losses have to make sense?: It just seems a bit...I don't know...pat? presumptuous? that a loss should have to make sense, or that anything should have to make sense and if it doesn't make sense to you you're doing something wrong. If this were a book or a move, then yes, it would have to make sense because if it didn't that would be bad writing. But this is real life, where sometimes things happen that just don't fit in with the rest of the plot.

Carolyn Hax: ... which in itself is one way to make sense of things. To declare that some things are just senseless and there's nothing you can do about them. There's peace in that, too.

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Just wondering-ville: And people don't just hate the breaking up, but the being alone afterwards. Loneliness sucks.

Carolyn Hax: True. But "alone" and "lonely" are two different things.

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Chicago, Ill.: How do you decide when it's OK to leave a job to take less money elsewhere? My job pays well but isn't satisfying in a lot of other ways. My husband is about to go from law student to lawyer, so we're going to be better off financially, but I don't want it to be like now that he's a lawyer I can just slack off on the job front.

Carolyn Hax: Oh brother. Please tell me you aren't worried about appearances in your own marriage. Both of you are deeply invested in each other's happiness. Some of that involves money, but most of it doesn't.

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Something about Phoenix: What if it's Groomszilla and he's trying to control everything? Could it be that she's falling back on we pay for stuff because he's entirely unreasonable or refuses to approve ANYTHING?

Carolyn Hax: Bringing us back to my original answer: The bride and groom learn to communicate. Covers everything.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,

My dad died unexpectedly last year, and my mom has been a total mess ever since. My siblings and I are doing all we can, but I really think she would benefit from talking to a bereavement professional. Problem is, she's terrified of the idea - thinks going to a shrink means she's crazy, dismisses a widow's group as a, quote, 'pickup scene', and isn't close to a clergy person. Any suggestions for helping me help her? She's unfortunately on the west coast so I am frustatingly far away.

Thanks so much.

Carolyn Hax: Sounds like she's going to make an excuse for anything you suggest, but I have a hard time seeing a grief support group as a "widow's group." People of both sexes and all ages lose loved ones of all kinds. Unless she wants to pick up a thirtysomething woman who just lost a sister, she'll probably be okay.

If logic is out of the question, you could try visiting her or having her visit, and going someplace with her. It's her life, she can resist you all she wants, but it does sound like more active involvement is worth a try.

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Falls Church, Va.: Caroyln, Is it ever a good idea to buy property with a significant other? I have known several friends who have dealt with the sticky issue of breaking up after they've moved in together and bought a home. It almost took the break-up to the level of a divorce with legal issues over dividing up the property. Should this decision wait until after a couple has gotten engaged or married, i.e. are more certain of their future together?

Carolyn Hax: Seems like your friends have already answered this for you. If you're shopping for a more optimistic answer, it's not here. But if you want an informed opinion that errs conservative, talk to a real estate attorney.

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Re: Just wondering-ville: "But "alone" and "lonely" are two different things."

Spoken like someone who hasn't been single in a while.

Carolyn Hax: Feel better?

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If you think loneliness sucks...: ...then try being in a relationship with a verbally/emotionally abusive partner who you joined up with because you were afraid of being lonely.

Loneliness can be cured by reaching out to friends, by volunteering to help others, by participating in interest groups or clubs, by throwing yourself into life and enjoying all it has to offer. You don't need to be half of a couple to avoid loneliness, and being half of a couple doesn't assure you won't be lonely-- or something much, much worse.

Carolyn Hax: Thank you. Doesn't have to be an abusive partner, could just be an annoying one, or a perfectly nice one who doesn't like you for you, or converse with you effortlessly, or share your sense of humor.

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Not Bridezilla . . .: But I just got married and had the bridesmaid from hell (MothraMaid!). She starting causing stress from the moment she arrived (calling me from the airport because she hadn't bothered to contact the bridesmaid who was picking her up) and just went down hill. She only put her cell phone down long enough for me to get married, and then tried to duck out of the pictures. The rest of my bridesmaids were absolute dolls (and I wined and dined them for the weekend, paying for nearly everything but their plane tickets and dresses). What do I do with this one? Call her on her behavior? Ask for an explanation? Or just check her off my list of friends? (she was also causing probs before the wedding, but my bridesmaids kept most of it from me)

Carolyn Hax: Sounds like it might be cathartic to say, okay, what the bleep? Since you're already prepared to drop the friendship, you can at least try to satisfy your curiosity first.

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Carolyn Hax: I'm still here, just got caught up reading some long questions.

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Sparky: So, how do you know whether the sparks are non-existent or merely burning at a low level?

Carolyn Hax: I think part of the problem is that a term like "sparks" can mean different things to different people. Are you talking physical or emotional attraction? I see it as a combination. If you love to talk to someone, if you're still happy to see him/her, if you crack each other up, if s/he's the one you want to be with when you're scared or sick or sad, if you rarely get sick of each other, and if you still find each other attractive even though you aren't ripping each other's clothes off any more, then I'd call that a nice low-level spark.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: My in-laws have just found out that my 21 year-old sister-in-law may have a serious drug problem. We are traveling to their house this weekend for an "intervention" and I'm nervous the intervention will make things worse. SIL has had every benefit bought for her by her parents and has been insulted from any consequences her whole life. She has a serious boyfriend my in-laws don't like because he "can't control her" - i.e. he hasn't stopped her from the drinking and drugs. SIL has had problems long before the guy came into the picture. My in-laws are focusing on the guy as the root of the problem and the intervention is shaping up into a you can't see him anymore type thing, rather than a focus on whether there is a drug and alcohol problem and how we can help my SIL get through it. Any advice?

Carolyn Hax: Suggest to your in-laws that they get counseling to teach them to handle a situation like this. I know, ba ha. But maybe your spouse can suggest it and not get thumped for it. Make it clear it's not a you-screwed-up remedy, but a learn-how-not-to-screw-up preventive measure. It's too late for the intervention weekend but it could help with its aftermath.

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Seattle, Wash.: Carolyn, today's question couldn't have been more well-timed for me. And scarier. Earlier this week, I found out that I'm pregnant. I've only been dating the father for two months. We used condoms. I'm not sure how it happened, to be honest, but it did. I'm freaking out and I haven't told the father yet. In fact, I've been avoiding him this week until I figure out how I feel. I'm in my early 30s and financially secure. And the father is too. Things have been going well with him, but it's in the early stages -- maybe of something wonderful and long-term, but I don't know yet. I always wanted children, so my inclination is to brace for single parenthood. But I'm afraid of it all -- what if the father doesn't want to be involved? Will I be able to handle this alone? I've been on the cusp of a panic attack all week. Help!

Carolyn Hax: Are you talking to anyone you trust? That's where I'd start, asap. You will eventually need to stop hiding from the father, but it sounds like you need to say some of this stuff out loud to someone first who won't have any agenda.

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Hmm?: What does it say about me when I've gone to countless ex-boyfriends weddings and never thought anything but, "whew - glad that's not me up there"?

Carolyn Hax: That you've bought a lot of candlesticks.

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Virginia: Hi Carolyn, My grandmother recently passed away. I was out of town when we received the news, but my husband saw his mother that day and told her. Am I wrong to feel hurt that my mother-in-law did not call me or my parents or send a card to offer sympathy? She had met my grandmother on several occasions, and had seen my parents only the week before. My grandmother's death was sad for me and my family, and I guess I'm hurt my mother-in-law hasn't acknowledged it. Can you help me get some perspective so I don't make my anger obvious the next time I talk to her?

Carolyn Hax: That she hasn't expressed sympathy doesn't mean she doesn't feel it. She also might not know how close you were to your grandmother, or how shaken you are by the loss. People do deal with death in very different ways.

You've got a lot of emotions right now and this is an easy place for you to put them--but one you might regret using later on. Wait till your insides settle down, and if it's still bothering you, then you can say to her at an appropriate moment that it hurt you not to have heard from her. But only if it's still making you too angry to associate with her; otherwise I'd drop it for the sake of family peace.

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Sis-in-law: If the drug problem "may" exist, it sounds as though it also "may NOT" exist.

Why is someone, anyone, doing an intervention without knowing for sure whether there's a problem??

I'd call the parents on that and refuse to participate.

Carolyn Hax: Certainly if there's that much uncertainty the intervention is insane. It read to me, though, that there was a problem, and the variable was its seriousness.

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Carolyn Hax: Off I go. Thanks everyone, and remember, next week I'll be typing to you on Wednesday at noon. Have a great weekend.

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for pregnant Seattle: Seattle was me, a year ago. (except I'm in my 40s). Financially solid, in a new relationship, oops!

I made up my mind that I wanted this kid, and I assessed my own life skills and ability to be a single mom, and realized I was ready and willing to do it on my own if necessary.

Then I quietly told my bf that I had something to tell him. When his response was positive that he wanted a kid too, then we settled into a quiet negotiation for the next several months-- would we live together? would we be a family? how would we provide financially for the child and for each other (if something happened to one of us). There were very few bumps, primarily because I did not need to have him on board in order to be o.k. with my child-- but I was open to letting the relationship evolve on its own.

No, it wasn't an ideal way to start a family, but the challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and a new baby gave us a lot of insight into each other. And I'm not going to tell you how we resolved all of our issues, because you're different and will do them your own way.

Best of luck, and congratulations.

Carolyn Hax: Nice road map for her, thanks.

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Chicago: No, I wasn't saying I'm concerned about appearances in my own marriage, I was saying I'm concerned about selling myself short professionally because my husband's new job makes it safe to do that. So, the question again, any advice on how to decide whether taking a different job for less money is a good thing?

Carolyn Hax: Start looking at it as solely a professional/personal decision and take the money out of it. Everyone should do that anyway when making a career decision; in your case, it sounds like you actually can.

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