Tell Me About It
Friday, July 21, 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.
Baltimore, Md.: Hi Carolyn,
I just learned that my husband of less than a year has a profile on a dating Web site that describes him as single. He's apparently had this up the entire five years we've been together. He claims that he's never met anyone in person. However, I'm starting to realize he's constitutionally incapable of telling the truth. Instant divorce or marriage counseling? No kids or property. I'm leaning so far toward divorce that I'm about to topple over.
Carolyn Hax: And that may be the way you ultimately go, but I would wait till the screaming inside your head dies down a little. There's no reason you have to put up with something you find intolerable, but there's also no reason you have to decide everything now.
Washington, D.C.: Any suggestions on where to learn adult relationship skills? Many of us have grown up with poor examples and need a little help/kick in the butt to learn how to act as an adult.
Carolyn Hax: Actually, this is what I've been saying for years: Therapy is great for exactly what you describe. Not couples counseling, but one-on-one, help-me-see-my-patterns therapy.
Fairfax, Va.: C, Did you mention a couple of weeks back that you are "re-locating"?
What's the deal?
Carolyn Hax: I wonder that myself. Yes, coming back to the DC area. I hope not till it cools off a bit, though.
Arlington, Va.: I recently met this great guy. He's awesome. We click really well. We've gone out a bunch of times.
The problem? Me. I'm getting too anxious, too excited, too whatever... but only over here. So, I'm freaking out on my own -- I just really would like to see him a lot, but it's still early. How do I keep from going nuts and silly? I just need to be patient.
Carolyn Hax: Right. So, plan other things to look forward to. Or, go the subtle route, and remind yourself that such expectations of people are rarely ever met--even of people you build your life around, like your family or best friend. I'm not advising pessimism, per se; people are the greatest thing about life. It's just that even when they're at their greatest they're still real and lumpy and aggravating. So, temper your excitement with that--and, why not, create other excitement to distract yourself a little from the guy excitement, too. No reason not to do both, right? Either way, enjoy.
Florida: Hi Carolyn,
What are your thoughts on attending high school reunions? My 10-year is coming up. Best to stay home and leave these memories in the past? Or attend out of curiousity and the chance to meet up with a couple of people that I wish I had not lost touch with?
Carolyn Hax: My thoughts are not to give it that much thought. If you're curious or if you have other reasons to want to go, go. If you're not interested, don't go. I don't believe there's any more weight to the decision than that.
Fairfax, Va.: Hi Carolyn!
I really need some encouragement today. I've been contemplating a career move for some time and I've decided I want to give notice at my current company. But I can't stand the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I don't know "what's next." I've always gone from one thing to another (high school, college, job, etc.) and have never not known what was around the corner. Can you help with some perspective?
Carolyn Hax: If you don't want what you've always had, you need to do what you've never done.
That's either perspective, or the most obnoxious coffee mug ever abandoned in the break room.
Just Nosey: I should probably MYOB, but why are you returning to DC?
Carolyn Hax: Heat, humidity, unaffordable real estate. Oh, and traffic. And that childrearing is a recognized competitive sport.
We have our reasons. But I always did loved DC, and I missed it while I was away.
Alexandria, Va.: There is an empty office by my cube. It appears that no one will be occupying it anytime soon. What types of bribes should I offer the powers-that-be to get it? I offered a pen, but I think I should offer more; it was a Bic Uni-ball Gel Impact.
Carolyn Hax: Don't bribe, just ask for it--neither as a longshot nor an entitlement, but as something you feel you've earned. And if you fail, at least you'll still have your pen.
Washington, D.C.: Any hope in getting my boyfriend to clean up after himself? I know nagging doesn't work. I also know that cleaning up after him doesn't instill any guilt or desire to do it himself; it only completely wears me out. If I leave his mess it will literally stay there indefinitely. We're not "chore list" people, but as I become a cleaner person this drives me more insane!
Carolyn Hax: Unfortunately this is one of those problems that's extremely difficult to solve, almost impossible to solve by one-size-fits-all methods, and often beyond solving when the person trying to solve it gets so p'd off that there's no going back.
So. If you're not there yet, here's what I;d suggest (a blend of all methods I've seen or been told about):
1. List everything that needs to be done.
2. Hand BF the list so he can choose whatever items he either doesn't mind doing or just hates the least.
3. Explain that it's not a chore list, it's a show-some-respect-for-me-please emergency.
4. Hire someone to do whatever items neither of you wants to do.
5. If this doesn't work, ask not what you can do for your relationship, but what your relationship is doing for you.
Tucson, Ariz.: I have a question about the honorable thing to do. I have been dating a guy for over four years. Love him dearly. However, he suffers from regular bouts of depression and his way of dealing with them is to hole up at home and not communicate. Treatment or change is not really an option, because at age 47 he considers these bouts as part of his artistic temperment, not a problem.
This time he's disappeared for over a month, though I did check on him about two weeks ago to make sure he was okay. Do I keep checking on him occasionally? Do I track him down and confront him? Do I go on with my life and tell him "so sorry" when he reappears? I'm struggling with my need to make sure he's alive, yell at him, and respect his privacy.
Carolyn Hax: You get through this one however you need to get through it, and when it's over, if you've decide this is behavior you're ready to accept as part of a life with him, you establish some plan that's acceptable to you both. E.g., he sends you a text message every X day, or you will check in on him.
I also hope you've talked to a doctor about what he may have, what the consequences may be, what you need to look out for, how you can help, and how you can keep from losing yourself in all this. If you're both winging it, you might both be in over your heads.
Bar Exam: Carolyn, I'm taking the New York Bar Exam on Tuesday and Wednesday and am alternately freaking out and too bored to even study. Any suggestions for managing a huge test like this (and for keeping sane in the six days until it's over?)
Carolyn Hax: Small bites. Study X minutes, scream, study X minutes, scream.
You should hear me when I'm online.
For "Any suggestions on where to learn adult relationship skills?": Feminists call it role reversal; religious folks call it the Golden Rule (so I suppose religious feminists call it both). In simplest terms, before you say or do something that might upset someone else, ask yourself how you'd feel if that person said/did that to you. If you wouldn't like it, modify it to something you'd find acceptable.
Carolyn Hax: That works. But I think you also have to detach fear of a negative outcome from your decisionmaking process. E.g., today's column: She could have told herself that it would upset the guy if she admitted she was reading an old love letter that she wanted to keep private; she could have told herself that it would be upsetting to him for her just to save these old letters; she could have told herself that it would be upsetting to him for her to be secretive. All of these can be offered up as an answer to the ask-yourself situation, but I think only the last one leads to an adult exchange. She -should- have been honest with him, and kept the letters that mattered to her, and told him (with the follow-up support of her actions) that she's a romantic whose heart is with him. The thing that distinguishes this answer-honesty--from the others is the willingness to put the truth out there regardless of risk.
Carolyn Hax: Sorry that took so long. I knew what I wanted to say but, for some reason, I couldn't form that argument into something coherent.
Coping with the bar exam: As someone who took the NY bar a few short years ago, I can say that what kept me sane the last few days was the sudden realization that surely I had studied more and learned more than at least 30 percent of the other people who were going to take it. With a passage rate of approximately 70 percent for first-timers, I figured that fact alone would mean a "pass" when the results came out in November. It did.
Carolyn Hax: But somebody has to be in the 30 percent.
Talking to a doctor about someone else's problem: How exactly do you go about talking to a doctor when you're concerned about someone else's health? Do you talk to their doctor or to your own doctor? If you talk to their doctor, what about doctor-patient confidentiality? I'd find it weird if anyone could just walk in and talk to my doctor about me behind my back. But talking to your own doctor seems weird too - would a doctor generally be willing to give an opinion on someone they've never even examined, not to mention using up time that they could better use on their own patients.
Carolyn Hax: Doctors are experts for hire. You can hire one for expert advice on your situation. Obviously it would be with the caveat that the doctor hasn't treated the patient him- or herself, but even a qualified qualified resource (ha ha, get it?) is better than flying blind.
Even paid expertise, though, isn't always necessary. There are professional organizations for different medical specialties--the American Psychiatric Association, for example (www.psych.org)--whose mandate is to safeguard the quality and consistency of care in that field, and to promote education about the field. Both of those would be served by talking to someone about a mate's circumstances, and providing even general advice. So, you put in the call, and you start asking questions.
Role reversal: I wish it worked better, but what bothers me is not necessarily what bothers my girlfriend, and vice versa.
(What really drives me nuts is that she will say some things that are fine to me, but if I say them back--nothing bad, but along the lines of, "anything on your mind?"--then she gets annoyed. I'm sorting throught this one.)
Carolyn Hax: (Good. That you're taking the trouble to sort is at least half the battle.)
I think role reversal is really spotty when you get into exact detail. It has to be almost squint-at-the-horizon general. It's not, "I'd want chocolate cake on my birthday, so I'll buy her chocolate." It's: "I'd want chocolate on my birthday, so I'll make the extra effort to figure out what she'd want most on hers." That extra step is make-or-break.
Helping with Chores: About the lack of spousal/bf help with cleanup: Sometimes it helps not to lump all "cleanup" chores together. My husband has always hated putting away dishes and cleaning the toilet. I used to get mad because he wouldn't do his share of kitchen and bathroom cleanup duty. But it turns out that he doesn't mind washing dishes, or cleaning the bathroom sink -- he just hates the other parts. So he cleans the sink, I clean the toilet. I pick up his wet towels from all over the house, he folds the laundry. Worth seeing if there are some tradeoffs in the middle of "helps clean" and "doesn't help clean."
Carolyn Hax: I thought that's what I was saying when I suggested picking from the list, but in case it wasn't, here it is in a form that may resonate better. Thanks.
Boston, Mass.: Hi Carolyn,
Awkward situation: my boyfriend and I are both applying to graduate programs and have to take the same standardized test in order to get in. I am consistently doing better than he is on the practice tests. He's doing a very good job of not being annoyed, but it's still really awkward. I would really appreciate any advice on how to handle this. Thank you.
Carolyn Hax: 1. Practice tests aren't the test.
2. Being able to take a test better doesn't make somebody smarter.
3. Being smarter doesn't make somebody better.
4. Needing to hear this does mean there's some growing up to be done, and that's the problem here, not that you're taking the same test. A person is the sum of thousands of things, not just Test Scores, Salary, Fancy Kollege. Happy couples have a sense that those thousands all more or less even out between them--and arent' uncomfortable about This or That prominent thing.
Anywhere the Bridezillas Roam...: Carolyn:
Was recently married, and did a decent job at getting the thank you notes out within a month of the wedding. In one of them, to a relative and spouse, I apparently bypassed mention of the money they gave us, and instead thanked them profusely for the many other nice things they did to make the wedding special.
Fast forward to a family function, where the spouse tells me I didn't send a thank you note. After apologetic "oh dear I'm sure I sent one" talk from me, spouse says oh, they got that, but it didn't talk about the money.
Do I send another thank you note, or just figure this is how family is? I love them, but sometimes feel that I'm never going to get this right.
Carolyn Hax: "Thank you for making it so clear to me that you're a complete doink and therefore I need to adjust my expectations of my future dealings with you accordingly."
No, no second thank-you is necessary.
Baltimore, Md.: I know that long distance relationships can work, but only if eventually something changes so there is no distance anymore. Should I give up my career, family and friends to go live with my boyfriend (of one year) in another country? It feels right, but I know that many people are just going to think that I am crazy leaving so much behind and going into so much uncertainty. I'll have to find a job, new friends, learn a new language, and there's no gurantee that things will work out with him in the long run (we have no immediate plans for marriage). But how else can I really see if the relationship will work?
Carolyn Hax: You can say, "Wait a minute, I don't want to move to a new country, find a new job and new friends, learn a new language and wonder if it's even going to work--not for anybody." A whole other way to determine that the relationship didn't work.
Not that it's the option you have to choose--just that you always have a choice. No matter what everyone else says.
Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Carolyn, thanks for taking my question.
Basically, I'm a 20-year-old female (a college junior) and have never had a boyfriend. It's not that I'm not attracted to boys, or that they aren't to me (I've had guys expressed interest), it's just that I'M not interested right now. I really enjoy being single and being with my friends (both male and female), am really focused on school and work, and just don't feel the need to be in a relationship (or to have random hookups). My close friends understand this but how do I explain to other people, especially my family, that I'm not a lesbian, I just like being single?
Carolyn Hax: Let them think you're a lesbian. The more you try to explain yourself the more they'll think you're compensating for something anyway, so don't even waste your breath. Be yourself without apology.
Helping with Chores: You've said it before, but I feel the need to say it again: husbands/bfs do not help with chores. They clean up after themselves and do their share in the home and relationship or they don't. It is not the wife/gf responsibility to do it all, whom the husband/bf can help. It is equally both partners' responsibility. If both parties don't get that, there is a serious problem.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks. Actually it was a reader who first made that point, since I tend to read right past the "helps with" language myself.
Letters from Ex: from today's column:
I can understand that she wanted to keep the letters. But why in the world did she read them in front of her boyfriend?
Carolyn Hax: Because it was an innocent visit with her past? I suppose she could have done it to push his buttons, too--a distinct possibility given the household taste for drama--but I don't think we can know either way without more information. And I'm not sure any of us wants more information on this.
No money talk in the thank-you note: It's possible that the relative and spouse thought that someone might have steamed open the card and taken the money, so they wanted to make sure that the money itself was received by the newlyweds.
I know, I know: the most likely explanation to a problem is the simplest one (in this case, that the gift givers are doinks) but I'm feeling charitable this afternoon
Carolyn Hax: Indeed.
Test-taker with boyfriend: Eeeek - stop comparing practice test results! Set up individual studying habits and stop competing with one another.
Carolyn Hax: A much shorter distance between two points. Thanks. But I stand by my blather, too.
Washington DC -- for cleanup nagger: Years ago, I was that BF, and my GF resneted that I didn't clean things up. Here's what we worked out, and it worked:
1. She got antsy about dirt when I couldn't even see the dirt. I told her she should just tell me when the livingroom needed cleaning, and not wait for me to see it, because I never would; and I promised not to resent being told to clean it.
2. I promised to clean the bathrooms, because I could see dirt there.
3. The kitchen was her responsibility, because she woldn't let me cook anyway. But I'd do dishes.
4. Her room was her responsibility, mine was my own pigsty.
And an unrelated ps: The poster last week whose friend had "chronic flu": that friend should see a doctor, flu isn't chronic.
Carolyn Hax: Thanks for all.
Coping with the bar: Take breaks for things other than just screaming, like getting out of your apartment for dinner w/friends (even if only for an hour and preferably with friends who are not also studying for the bar), and for a quick workout. Both will help you come back feeling refreshed, better focused, and the hour off will raise your adrenaline just a bit as you see the clock ticking down so you'll be motivated to hit the books again for awhile. Good luck!
Carolyn Hax: And if you;re pressed for time, scream at dinner.
Standardized tests: As a joke, you can just tell him that it's been the recent trend that women are getting higher scores than men over the past few years on standardized tests. Whereas, 10 years ago, the opposite was true. They chocked it up to gender inequalities in the classroom.
Carolyn Hax: No! No apologetic jokes! Remind him you're clearly superior and he should have expected this, then order him to rub your feet.
Washington, D.C.: Hi Carolyn,
I was in a relationship for about a year with a wonderful, sweet, incredibly intelligent, incredibly irresponsible guy. We broke up about a month ago after he lost his job and was making no effort to get back on his feet (it wasn't because of that -- we both just realized that we weren't a good fit -- and BTW, he broke up with me just in case anyone thinks I'm an a**hat for breaking up with someone after they get fired!). We have talked a couple of times since then, because we still really want to be friends. We have a ton of mutual friends as well, and I've heard that he still hasn't gotten a job; his phone has been cancelled because he can't pay the bill; his friends/roommates love him but won't invite him to anything because he doesnt' have any money; and he doesn't seem to be even making an effort to get a job.
I never understood it (he was unemployed when we first started dating and it took forever for him to make the effort to start looking), and I still don't. I'm so worried about him but I don't know what to do to help. Surely my support was not enough when we were dating. What can I do either to help him or to stop caring so much?
Carolyn Hax: Dude needs to help himself, badly.
You need to ask yourself what you're looking for here--you get something out of the idea of rescuing a hard case. I know it could just be that you like the guy, but I'm not buying that here. Call it a hunch. Or, call it that the signs were all over him when you first got involved with him, which means you sought him out even before you were invested in him, which suggests this is at least somewhat about you.
And, I need to clarify that there's nothing a**hattish about breaking up with people after they get fired. Sometimes it can be cruel, sure, but firing is often a consequence of poor behavior by the fired, and if we can't break up with people for behaving badly, what's left?
Finally, I need to float this: Has anyone screened this guy for ... I dunno, something. Not to say that every hard case has to be a case for diagnosis, but the bright underachiever persona has been linked to things like ADD, learning disabilities, et.c, so much lately that I always see a flag.
Chicago, Ill.: I'm having a mid-life crisis. At 34. I'm feeling like I'm heading down a conventional, expected path. I can't shake the feeling that I just want to go back to school (despite the cost), quit my job and freelance, and travel. Maybe not have kids. Do I just need to grow up? How do I know if this is real or just a passing phase (that has lasted almost a year)?
Carolyn Hax: Have a plan, have a backup plan, have at it. have fun!
Chicago, Ill.: I know you're an advocate of directness, not passive-aggressiveness. I agree with you in theory, but admittedly not always in practice. I have a person I supervise who is lacking in some manners. It really doesn't have to do with his work; he's fine in that regard. But for example, he'll come into my office loudly smacking on gum or food while asking my opinion about work. Usually I just grin-and-bear, but the passive aggressive me wants to say "Excuse me?" to indicate I can't understand him like that (when I actually can) or "Oh, you can finish your lunch before we deal with this." Somehow being direct and saying, "Can you please chew with your mouth closed, or wait until your done eating to speak to me" sounds like I'm trying to be his mother. Isn't there sometimes a place for passive aggressiveness?
Carolyn Hax: That isn't passive-aggression, that's subtlety or diplomacy or civility or whatever your indirect phrasing happens to produce. Sometimes it's grating, sometimes it's gentle and accurate--usually depending on the skill of the person speaking. Regardless, it's all necessary. Professional situations demand careful language. Relationships do, too, for that matter, even though it's informal language by comparison. "Why don't we talk about it after lunch" seems just right to me, between coworkers or friends.
Washington, D.C.: Hi, Carolyn. I am engaged to be married and have no real complaints about the guy, good guy. The only thing is that sometimes when we are in an argument (which is not too often), he will say very hurtful things, like call me names, say he no longer loves me, doesn't want to be with my anymore, etc. After the fact, he says he is sorry and that he didn't mean it, he was just mad, and that's all well and fine, but I am having a hard time forgetting about these things and feel like I am holding a grudge all the time, and it's starting to affect the way I treat him, can't be as nice or loving. Any suggestions on how to get past these things?
Carolyn Hax: Anything but marrying him. Talk to him about it when you aren't in an argument, tell him "I was just mad" is not license to be hurtful; tell him you're holding onto this stuff; go to counseling--solo and couples--if your discussions don't get anywhere. Just don't marry him till you have significant time behind you of communicating well and not stockpiling anger.
Chicago, Ill.: Hi Carolyn,
I have a lot of friends who have jobs in the arts, and they frequently pester me to give money to their organizations. I do give money to charity, but I prefer to give it to a group that aids victims of sex trafficking (since I think that's pretty much the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone). I thought explaining where my money went to my friends would be enough, but they just respond, "oh, you're a lawyer, you make a lot of money, you can afford to give more." This is really starting to bug me, since I am very generous and I have my own bills to pay. Is there any way to get them to back off?
Carolyn Hax: Speaking of times when it is and isn't okay to be direct, how bout: "Gee, that really makes me want to give money now."
I imagine accompanying your "no" with an offer to buy tickets to the next whatever would help, too. Or the classic deflections, "I wish I could" or "I wish it were that easy" or "I wish you hadn't been raised by wolves."
Just smile and stick to your guns. What else is there.
Fed Up: My roommate and best friend, formerly a fun and interesting girl, is about to drive me completely batsh-t insane because she won't shut up ever ever ever about her immature and annoying boyfriend. They've been going out for a year, so this isn't a new infatuation thing. In fact it seems to get worse the longer they're together. He's a good enough guy, and I'm glad she's happy, but I'm really getting to dread coming back to my room for the night because I'm assaulted by a constant stream of boring "Bob" stories that don't let up until I put in earplugs and go to sleep. I literally can't start a conversation about any other subject, no matter how completely unrelated to Bob, without her immediately bringing him into it somehow. Nothing is safe from him. I'm about ready to put out a hit on this guy.
Basically, I just miss the person I made friends with. Is there any tactful way to say "STOP TALKING ABOUT BOB AHHHHHH" and bring her back to the lovely interesting person she used to be?
Carolyn Hax: How about, "STOP TALKING ABOUT BOB AHHHHHH." If that sounds like you and she's your best friend, you'll get away with it.
Therapy: I know I need it. I'm depressed and I have weight issues, and then I'm depressed about the weight issues. But I just can't take that step. I don't know how to find a good doctor, I don't have much money, I don't have much time...etc. There's always an excuse. How do I do this? How do I make myself do it, where do I look to find a doctor, and how do I do it without selling myself to pay for the treatments?
Carolyn Hax: Where do you live? If it's in the DC area, I'd try the Women's Center. Just call and ask your questions, they're trained for it.
If you;re not in the DC area, start by asking your regular doctor for a referral; or contact the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org), or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (www.aamft.org); or, if you live near a hospital or university, call to see if either runs a counseling clinic. This is a short list that could be longer, but I hope it's enough to get started.
As for a motivator, use this: You can feel better. Really.
Columbia, Md.: Um, wow. Was I the only person who didn't see the drapey boyfriend from last week as malevolent and controlling? Poor guy seemed pretty insecure, to me.
But then, I was in a relationship where affection was withheld, so I could be projecting.
Carolyn Hax: Insecurity is the driving force behind malevolence and control. If he draped and backed off when asked, he would just be drapey. But he draped and then complained, pouted, accused and pressured when asked to back off, which is controlling. A person's response when a mate asserts him- or herself makes a -huge- difference. It's the difference between healthy and un-, between sticking up for an affectionate guy and telling his GF to run.
Arlington, Va.: Carolyn:
My wife and I have been married for almost five years (no kids) and separated for the last six months -- I moved out because life had gotten so unbearable that I was physically sick. We've tried to work things out a couple of times, but the old patterns kept coming up for both of us. Now we are calling it quits and I feel like I don't even know how we got here. I know that she behaves in ways that I can't live with and the same is true for her. That said, leaving the life we've built feels like more than I can take.
We sold our house and have to be out in a couple of days. My wife had taken a job in another city and was set to move there. Now she has no idea what she wants to do and might go live with her parents. She is having a breakdown (not the first) and I don't know what to do. I feel incredibly guilty and responsible. Part of the marital problems were that she would say that all our/her problems were my fault and I would say that she was right, and oftentimes believe it. Now, I can't get that feeling out of my body.
We both made a lot of bad decisions to get to this point, but I FEEL like I'm the one to blame for her state. I love her and want to help her. But the only way I can think to help her is to beg her to come back and try again - but I don't really want that.
How do I help someone I love very much, but where the boundaries are non-existent.
-How to Help?
Carolyn Hax: The only way any of us can help anyone is to be strong and healthy ourselves. You're neither at the moment, so do not apologize for, and do not waiver from, your decision to go off on your own to get well. She has a place to go. Let her go. There's nothing to stop you from revisiting your decision later, when you're able to think straight. And precedent has shown you that you don't think straight when you're with her, so trust that. Take solace in that.
West Coast: Hello there! I've been a fan for a long time. I'm writing because I'm very saddened by my husband's loss of sex drive. Basically, since I've become pregnant, he psychologically has a difficult time getting into the mood. I'm worried this will spill into our post-child life. He says he is physically attracted to me and not to take it personally, but I think we both know our sex drives don't match up. We are still very cuddly and all, but I'm dreading the prospect of a sexless marriage. Am I over-reacting? Is there hope his hormones come back after pregnancy? Has anyone else had similar experiences?
Carolyn Hax: You may feel silly doing it, but talk to your OB/midwife. In my experience the providers in this business are trained to address the emotional as well as physical elements of pregnancy, if only b/c there's so little distinction between the two. Besides, think of how many scared or freaked out husbands they've seen. Sometimes just being veterans is the greatest care they can provide.
Re: Washington DC: That is exactly what a batterer says. He is being emotionally abusive by withholding affection and calling her names to put her down. It gives him power in the arguments. Then at the end, he is sorry, he didn't mean it, there is an excuse for the behavior (It starts with "I was angry" then moves to "You made me angry" putting the blame on her).
This is a huge red flag. Sure it could be a communication issue and nothing more, but please be aware that domestic violence starts with words, not fists. This is exactly how an abusive relationship can start. Please examine your relationship. Is he controlling in other areas (your friends, your family, the way you dress, your spending habits)? Does he ever throw things when he is angry to make a point?
Just something else that DC should ask herself before marriage.
Carolyn Hax: www.peaceathome.org is very about including verbal cues on its list of warnings signs, and of the on-and-off nature of abuse (that's really just constant abuse). Thanks.
Carolyn Hax: The UPS package locator says my shoes have been delivered, so I'm off to the mailroom. Thanks everybody for the great distraction in the meantime, and I'll type to you--oh, not Friday. I almost forgot. Next week's session will actually be the following Monday, 7.31, at 2. Have two great weekends.
Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.