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Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 18, 2008; 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 day in The Washington Post Style section and in the Sunday Source, Carolyn Hax offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there. Hax is an ex-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.

A transcript follows.

Carolyn's Recent Columns

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West Coast: Hi Carolyn,

Here's a situation I'd like your perspective on: Recently I was talking with my cousin, and she said something really racist, which surprised me so much I couldn't react as I'd have liked. Do you recommend just letting it lie, or saying something even now, a week later?

Thanks!

Carolyn Hax: Say something even now, a week later.

Approach it first by admitting you didn't know how to react when you first heard her comment. Then say you've been turning it over in your mind ever since, and so now you;re thinking it would be easier just to ask her straight out what she meant by it.

At least that way you're not accusing, you're asking, and you're also giving her a chance to think about what she said--which is really the point. It's not about a gotcha or an apology, nor is it about relieving you of the burden of feeling as if you should have taken a stand. It's about making her aware of what she said, so she, I hope, doesn't make the same mistake again.

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Austin, Tex.: Carolyn: I have a first date with a guy next week. I haven't told my best friend because she has been studying for a very important professional career exam which she'll take in two weeks. I don't want her to freak out about me having a date (which she might do because she has not had a date in quite a while...and she and I are the last two single, unmarried people in our group.) If this date goes well, and he and I are still hanging out when she's done with the exam, I'll tell her then.

Am I being ridiculous? Should I just tell her now? If I wait a few weeks she'll be hurt that I didn't tell her as soon as I met the guy...but I just don't want to distract her in any possible way. Your thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: If she'd freak out that you're going on one date right now, it would feel weird for me just to answer your question and say, sure, tell her later, whatever.

Which would be my answer, except that there's a much bigger problem. It sounds as if you and this friend are just not good for each other right now. You need each other to remain single, in order for it to feel okay to be single? That's not about two friends propping each other up, that's two friends dragging each other down. Please talk to her about your getting a healthier attitude, individually or jointly, about the paths you;ve chosen in life.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Carolyn. I am a 16-year-old high school student. This upcoming spring break, I am traveling abroad with my school orchestra. Though I'm very excited for what will be an amazing experience, I'm also quite apprehensive because I don't have many friends in the group. Sure I know a lot of people and can make small talk with them, but they're not the "hey-we-have-to-room-together" type of friend. I moved here only a while ago, and I do have many very good friends outside the group; however, I have trouble breaking into the cliques that have formed in our orchestra. I have a very three close friends in the group, but none can go because they have other activities during break. I tend to value having a few great friends and have trouble being very effusive and bubbly, as the "popular" people tend to be. I suppose I could join in and be proactive in asking people to room with me or sit with me on the rides, etc., but I always feel guilty because I don't want others just to agree out of politeness. I just don't want to be the tag-along or seem antisocial, while actually I am very funny, cheerful, and kind person with the people I'm comfortable with.

Carolyn Hax: The weeks before these things are all about dread, so don't feel it's only you. But the weeks after are often about the new bonds created by being around people 24-7 whom you might not otherwise have chosen to be around.

And if it doesn't play out that way (since there's no guarantee), think of it this way: There are a lot of introverts out there. Some really just don't want to be bothered, but many are at least understanding, if not outright grateful, when someone asks, "Is this seat taken?" Especially in such a socially demanding circumstances as a multi-day trip with other 16-year-olds, I have a hard time believing there aren't other people who are staring down the idea of being "alone" the whole trip. Look outside the cliques and along the fringes for kindred spirits. And, bring a good book for when you really are on your own. Nothing wrong with that, either.

_______________________

Re: Friday's Column: Excellent advice. Thank you!

I went through this three years ago. She is definitely grieving, but it's okay. And a few years down the road, she will probably very happy with her little family unit. I couldn't imagine mine any other way.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. Another reader pointed out that in addition to what I advised, she also needs to apologize to her husband for badgering him/tuning him out for 18 months. And he's right, that's a lot of months of not respecting his position.

His pointing that out caught me in an assumption that I hadn't realized I had made--that the decision to stop after one child was a change, and that there had been some understanding that they would have child-ren-. It wasn't a crazy assumption, because clearly the wife herself had assumed there would be more, but it was mistake nevertheless because assumptions always are when you're in this chair. After all, -her- assumption could have been unfounded.

Meanwhile ... certainly if the husband had originally been party to a plan to have more than one child and changed his mind, her distrust of his new position would make more sense, but she would still owe the apology for not listening--and he'd owe her one for the broken promise.

Whew. Hope that covers it all. Thanks. BTW, another reader agrees with you that it took a few years to readjust her perspective.

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Second Babies: Your column today resonated with me, but in a slightly different way. My husband and I have a darling baby (older baby). We love our child dearly but are unsure about a second.

I want one, in theory. The reason I say "in theory" is b/c we have no family in the area and thus no network (beyond friends but they have families of their own). So, we get no help. No breaks. And, I feel like my marriage has suffered some since the birth of our child (not irreparably; just a lack of time/intimacy that we prev. had). The grandparents and other relatives rarely come and when they do, expect to be entertained.

I cannot imagine going back to night feedings, wakings and all the stress that comes with a newborn. And, then, what if baby 2 has colic or other issues that our first VERY easy baby (but still a baby and thus hard) did not.

OTOH, I can't imagine not having a sibling for our child and another child growing up in our house.

How do you make this decision? I'm mid-30s so have to decide in the near future.

Carolyn Hax: This decision is probably making itself as long as you can't bear the thought of night wakeups. They're a low point (IMHO) even when you're mentally prepared for them.

But if you do get to the point when you feel ready, the next question is, can you afford paid help? And if the answer is no, can you re-work your budget to start saving for it, even now while you're undecided? Not full-time care, but relief care--a few afternoons a week, an evening or two*. A lot of people are making do without family helping out. Either grandparents and siblings live in different parts of the world, or they're busy with other young kids in the family, or just flat-out not helpful; my mom died before I had kids, and that's sad but hardly rare.

*Finally--set up a date night, asap, and stick to it. This will all be moot if your marriage is one of chores and estrangement.

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thank you, Stepford wives: Yep, she owes him an apology. After all, the desire for a child is such a silly woman thing, and it should be discarded for his wishes without discussion.

Carolyn Hax: Oh come on. Admitting the husband has feelings and frustrations of his own is hardly a trip to Stepford. There's discussion, and there's an admitted refusal to hear what one doesn't want to hear. I'm not surrendering my position of sympathy for someone in her position, I;m merely agreeing that her refusal to hear him does warrant acknowledgment.

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To the 16-year-old going abroad on Spring Break: Two things I just want to mention from personal experience that might help you.

The summer before ninth grade, I went to Europe as part of a school group at my best friend's school. She (and two friends from her neighborhood that I had met ONCE) was the only person I knew. The four of us sat together on the plane and had a great time. The day we arrived in England, she decides to hook up with one of the two guys on the trip and totally ditch hanging out with me. I felt like such a hanger on with her two other friends because we only sorta knew each other. The group ended up splitting into two "cliques" and I ended up having a great time with the girls I met! We didn't keep in touch because they went to a different school, but it was still a lot of fun after the initial day or two of awkwardness.

The second thing is that over 10 years later, I don't remember the names of the girls I roomed with, talked with, shopped with, etc. I remember missing out on paying attention to historical and beautiful architecture, etc., because of high school drama. I still regret that and I long for a day when I can afford to go back and really appreciate what I'm seeing and doing. So, really, you only have to share the bathroom with these people. If you don't make lifelong friends, no worries because it doesn't matter. Just try to enjoy the trip because it may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. I have a similar story, which allows me to add a twist to your twist. I blew off the sights for the social drama, too, and regretted it, then developed a post-regret appreciation both for the drama and the regret (if that makes any sense). The drama was where I was then, and nothing was going to distract me from it, not even Westminster Abbey. The regret, which I no longer have, was really just the usual slap in the face that comes with an education. The lesson being: Don't beat yourself up for missing W. Abbey when you were 14, just go next time you're there.

Which I didn't, by the way, but that's a whole other story.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Is there a grievance step-process to getting over an injustice? There's nothing I can do about a wrong I suffered about one month ago. The problem is I wake up every morning angry, furious. I know that's the first step in other step-processes, but I can't seem to move to another step. Is there any book or Web site to help me through this? Thanks.

Carolyn Hax: Can't speak to the book or Web resources, but I do believe that when something prevents you from seeking a remedy to your exact problem, for whatever reason, then you need to turn your energy to something else that you -can- remedy. Just being effective will help you feel better.

You suffered an injustice. Can you help someone else who has been through something similar? Can you help others avoid what you went through? If those are dead ends, can you just do some generalized good? Think of it as channeling your fury into something productive. It's the beginning of so many happy endings, it's its own cliche.

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Where's Liz? : I missed her chat yesterday.

Hope everything's okay.

washingtonpost.com: Rehab. Strictly for professional reasons.

Carolyn Hax: Hey, if I can work through it, she can.

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ugh : I have a thing for my wife's sister and I need to get her out of my sphere, now, before ANYTHING goes wrong. I've got the willpower to stay away, but my wife is a perceptive woman.

How do I explain that I don't want to be around SiL for the time being?

Carolyn Hax: Everyone has a fiercely unattractive side. Park your mind on hers, and don't let it leave until it's convinced. Just thinking about her, too, will have an intensity you can't sustain. It's why crushes don't last.

In the meantime, don't explain you don't want to be around the sister, just be elsewhere. Even when you're there, occupy yourself with something else. Everyone will be so happy you're doing dishes, washing the cars and mowing your neighbors' lawns they won't have time to notice that you're lovestruck.

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Cleveland: Carolyn, I am really uncomfortable with the frequency my p>wife is going out to bars with her girl friends for a "girls night out" (3x last 4 weeks). In fact, when and wherever this group of friends gets together (and it is often at one another's homes) there is a lot of drinking. One time I went with my wife to the bar (couples night) and everyone just got hammered -- guys were hitting on my wife (she says they were married guys and just talking). She seemed like a different person. I don't see a problem with the occasional girls or guys night out to socialize and blow off some steam but...I just don't see anything good coming from the bar scene. When I have discussed my concerns with my wife she has told me she can handle herself and it is "too bad" she is going out any way. This is causing a lot of tension in the home. What are your thoughts -- is it simply a control and trust issue on my part?

Carolyn Hax: Sounds like a control issue on both sides, with hot insecurity and a binge-drinking problem on top.

Going out with friends once a week is a non-issue. So is going out with friends once a week and exercising a side of her personality she doesn't use much at home. Even a little flirting gets a big fat "whatever" if she brings her real attention home. You're free to do same; when handled properly by grownups, it can liven things up.

But getting hammered once a week, making lame ("they're all married") excuses and responding to -any- concern from a spouse with "too bad" is the behavior of someone too childish to be married--or too angry to care any more about acting childish. I also think your making an issue of the guys who hit on her is a mistake, also one of either immaturity or anger that has bubbled over.

I wish I could point to Just the Right Thing to Say that would get you two talking again, but that would require 1. that you purge your words of any anger, jealousy or blame, and 2. that she be willing to do the same. I have hopes for 1., but not for 2. In the end it might be time for some good marriage counseling, but you can still try approaching in a disarming way, with something along the lines of, "How did we end up like this?" (To which my mind just responded, "Like what?" Sigh.)

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MtP, DC: Carolyn, I was reading through old transcripts, and apparently you like the band Nickelback.

I don't think we can be friends anymore.

Sigh.

Carolyn Hax: Agh, a music snob! No, we can't be friends.

I actually don't know their music, just one song that I can't even recall now. But I'd appall you anyway; my music tastes are all over the place.

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Almost Heaven: Hi Carolyn:

I've been doing some online dating, and whenever people

learn that I'm from W. Virginia they start judging me

immediately as though I'm stupid. Several have made

offensive jokes about my birthplace. Should I stop revealing

my origins?

Carolyn Hax: No no no, it's a great filter. Just respond with how clever they are to have thought of those jokes themselves, or employ the multi-talented "wow," and be grateful this is all coming out early vs. later.

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Re: SiL crush:"Just thinking about her, too, will have an intensity you can't sustain"

I disagree. This is the logic I used when I had a seemingly insurrmountable crush on a co-worker. Unfortunately, thinking about him only made it worse, especially because I did have to see him on occasion. The combination of seeing him and having more things to fuel my thoughts built up. I did eventually act on my feelings, which I regret to this day. If I could do it over, I would have not indulged my early feelings on this "harmless crush" and forced myself to think of other things and cut off ALL contact with him.

Carolyn Hax: I actually agree with that, when it's possible. When it's not possible then it's time for Plan B.

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Back again: Hi Carolyn! My now-husband wrote in a long time ago and you printed his letter about his worries that his white family wouldn't accept me, his black wife. Things have been fine between me and the in-laws so far, but now that we're expecting our first babies (twins!), I'd like to start a dialogue with my mother-in-law about some small issues we may need to address as a family. My confrontation-shy husband wants no part of this dialogue, even though it involves him.

Basically, while the in-laws have been good about not openly condemning my race or making their usual racist jokes, I want them to actually become allies in raising our kids to be proud of who they are. I want the in-laws in our kids' lives, and to do that means they need to look at even the nuances of the way they talk about world issues. I don't see anything inflammatory about that, but my husband is freaking. Can I do this without him?

Carolyn Hax: Hmm. Depends. Reading between the lines, it looks as if your definition of their becoming allies in raising your kids is your educating them on which viewpoints are and aren't acceptable to you. That sounds like a grandparent alienation kit, frankly, no matter how right you may be about the subtleties of their racism.

They are who they are, and they have a right to be that way, even if it makes them look ignorant or hostile or whatever it is that has caught your attention. Even if you're right that they would be undermining your children's emotional health.

You, of course, have the right to speak up when your in-laws say something that you find detrimental.

Unless your we're-a-team-here speech really is a positive, pro-family rally, I would advise against any sort of confrontation, and instead for waiting and seeing how they are when the babies come. You have a while before they will really be able to get what's going on, so use the early years to see whether your predicitons even come true--they may surprise you--and to teach yourself a good approach when they do offend. Is there stuff you can let go? Are there things you have to take on? Is there a way to take them on that incorporates the view that all or you are learning, vs. that you are right and they are to be scolded?

Finally, the grandparents who do come with a complicated message are a story as old as family. The answer isn't always to fix them or banish them or even correct them on a case-by-case basis. Often the true winning strategy is to let them be part of your children's larger education about the fact that people aren't paper cutouts. They can have great and awful traits--not just coexisting, but sometimes even woven into the same sentence. They'll have to learn to deal with that eventually, and they're the ones it's your job to educate.

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Just for the record: Your statement "Everyone has a fiercely unattractive side. Park your mind on hers, and don't let it leave until it's convinced. Just thinking about her, too, will have an intensity you can't sustain. It's why crushes don't last." cuts two ways.

Focus on the bad in someone you love, and you lose the crush/magic/love. Focus on only the good in someone you can't have, and you're delusional. Reset your mind often and honestly until these make sense.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks. I can extend it even further--that people who have committed to someone, *and are in healthy relationships*, will benefit from keep the positive-thought bubble-machine going. The weekly date I keep flogging is part of that. Keep the good stuff in plain view on a regular basis. Not delusion (please see *), just emotional maintenance.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Carolyn,

What's the best way to get over an insecurity and to identify if you're being too sensitive about something?

My very recent ex and I broke up over a major insecurity of mine. I am very loyal and always had his back and people knew better than to trash him or our relationship, and my boyfriend knew that I would defend him and definitely encouraged it. But when it came to a girl talking to my boyfriend at the time and trashing me and saying I was only using him, my boyfriend let her rant on and on and after she said her piece, he decided to turn the subject to making a sexual comment about her. And since she disrespected me in his house or in his presence (pretty much always regarding my relationship with the bf, even though she's not a close friend of either of ours and it's none of her business) and the bf NEVER did anything to let her know that it's not right and he makes me feel like I'm overreacting for wanting him to have my back, even though it's something I have done for him. Even though we're broken up and working on our friendship, his lack of loyalty is still plaguing our relationship and I don't know if I'm overreacting or how to make my feelings clear to him because he just doesn't get it...

-Time to just get over it?

Carolyn Hax: Ya. I've used the "has your back" example before myself, but not in the same way. I'm talking about taking care of someone; you've extended it to opinion-policing. If someone had something negative to say about someone I was seeing, I would -want- them to feel safe saying it (and I hope I'd have the sense not to go reporting it back to my date). They might have useful information for me on things I'm too close to the situation to see. This other girl may have been wrong about your using your boyfriend, and she may have had ulterior motives up and out the wazoo, but who cares? She can both form and express whatever opinions she likes. Your boyfriend can hear them or dismiss them in whatever way he likes--of course, as long as there's no impropriety or wink-wink endorsing of it. What's wrong with a bored sounding, "Okay, [girl], I'll keep that in mind," and going back to whatever he was doing?

I'll admit, part of the reason I'm focusing on this angle is I don't understand your question any more when it gets to the other part--specifically, you lost me with "he decided to turn the subject to making a sexual comment about her." But I think I'm talking about the right part of the issue anyway: You're not "loyal," you're controlling the airwaves around you on any topic that concerns you.

Badmouthing, backstabbing--heck, even people who don't like you for valid reasons and who handle that honorably--these are all part of life. Your feelings about yourself, your BF, about the stability of your relationship--these all need to be able to stand on their own.

_______________________

Carolyn Hax: Just for clarity, the way I said couples needed to watch each other's backs was in taking care of each other. Paying attention to each other's feelings; sticking up for each other when words do get harmful, like when a family member gets overly involved with the couple's private business; being aware of and making an effort to satisfy each other's needs; listening; all that good stuff.

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Milford, CT: Carolyn,

I love your chats! I have two questions:

1. Do you and your husband actually do the weekly date night thing? It sounds great in theory, but seems like it would be hard to sustain long term.

2. Will you be my personal therapist?

Carolyn Hax: Snort. We do get out once a week at least, and have missed maybe one or two nights out in five years. It's not a forced march, it's just something we look forward to and protect fiercely from outside pressures.

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re: Date night: some clarity on date night, please. I am expecting my first child in March and I think that date night for us may become "sit together and talk about something other than the baby" or "watch (part of) a movie." is this what you mean, or does date = night on the town?

Carolyn Hax: Get out, let your eyes see something other than your smudgy walls and stacked laundry. Even if you just take a walk.

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Downtown, DC: Hi Carolyn

I am about ready to send a dear John letter to my long distance relationship of seven years. He has been saying he will move here for six years. He says it, he goes through some of the motions, but never does it. He was MIA when I was diagnosed with breast cancer this fall. He seems to be completely unable to commit to any decision, even to take out the trash. I have come to realize that he is a hoarder and immune to clutter. I have spent quite a chunk of change working with professional organizers to get my place back in the shape it was in before I met him. My other side says we are very compatible in many ways, and maybe he really will move up here. But my evil twin says she'd rather fall in love all over again. Any thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: If I were your evil twin, I'd be really p***ed that the only position you were letting me stand for was a chance to subject yourself to this all over again. HE WAS AWOL WHEN YOU WERE DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER. Even if that didn't have six years of dithering behind it, it would still make me feel good about sending the Dear John letter fedEx. First overnight. (Or is that option not available for Saturday Delivery?)

_______________________

Lansing, Mich.: My husband has been estranged from his (very toxic) family for 12 years. Yesterday he received an e-mail at work from his sister (she Googled him). Their mother is turning 80 this month and the family is having a card shower. She asked my husband to send a card.

Is it wrong of me to encourage him to send one? She's an old woman and it's not like he's to have further contact with them. I also think that he may find that they have changed just as much as he has in the past 12 years, but I will respect his decision to maintain the status quo.

Thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: I'm not going to get into the business of parsing an estrangement whose origins I don't know firsthand. However, because estrangement is so extreme, I do think it makes sense to revisit the decision at some regular interval. If the though of that is too painful, then that might mean it's an emotional decision being made solely as a way of avoiding those painful emotions. Instead estrangement should be a way of -dealing- with them, in which case re-opening your mind to the decision every, say, five years--or when you get a request to participate in a birthday--will only bring more peace, not less. At least in theory.

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Vienna, Va.: Hi Carolyn,

My best friend is in her late 30s and interested in dating. But she absolutely refuses to date anyone over 40.

I have tactfully tried to explain that many men are not interested in dating someone older then them, even a beautiful smart woman like my friend.

She complains about her lack of relationships, and I know why -- as infuriating as it is. I want to sit her down and explain the facts of life. I've hinted at it, and she responds by saying that I haven't been out in the dating world for a while. But she doesn't really seem to understand what I am saying. Very frustrating! What should I do?

Carolyn Hax: You're trying to make sense to someone who's being ridiculous. When she complains about her lack of relationships, please feel free to ask ... well, whatever amuses you. "Can I mention your rigid and arbitrary guidelines, or is that still off limits?"

For the record, some men don't have a problem with dating someone older, but their radar does usually tip them off to someone who treats dating like a trip to Tiffany (with maxed out credit cards).

_______________________

Washington DC: You recommend marriage counseling a lot, and I'm down with that. When money is one of the issues standing in the way of marital bliss, though, how do we justify the expense? Or better yet, avoid the expense? Are there therapists that work on a sliding scale, or some such thing?

Carolyn Hax: Try the professional organizations that govern the therapy specialties. The American Association for Marriage

and Family Therapy (www.aamft.org) and the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org) are two that come quickly to mind, and you can check the sites or call the information numbers to get suggesitons for finding care on a low-, no- or sliding-cost basis. Schools that train therapists, churches, hospitals also sometimes offer discounted care and clinics. These are just a start, but often one call will lead to another. Good luck.

_______________________

Silver Spring, Md.: Carolyn:

I'm a college senior in the middle of an intense 3-week winter semester. My best friend said she understands that I don't have time to talk on the phone now because I have to devote so much time to my schoolwork. But apparently she also feels slighted; last night, she left me a message saying that she is "so much more important" than the grade I get in this course, and she wants to talk.

I agree that people are more important than grades, but I have to study! Is it unreasonable for me to say that I could do short phone conversations now, but I need to wait until after my final to "really" talk?

Carolyn Hax: Since the counterargument is so easy to make--that the grade issue will be gone in three weeks, but you have a lifetime to be good friends to each other--I have to wonder if something else is up. It is possible that she needs something big and hasn't been clear about that, and it's also possible she thinks she has been clear.

If everything else you know about her says she's being high maintenance, then add this to your anecdote pool. If on the other hand you know her not to be high maintenance, put in the call, even a five minute one, to find out what really is up.

_______________________

Afraid of what you will say but here goes...: I cheated on my fiancee. Took a business trip and got way to drunk and friendly with a co-worker. Almost completed the task but came to my senses.

Overall, I'm freaking about the wedding. Tons of factors make me nervous and, wedding planning or relationship aside, I have a few very stressful events brewing in my life.

So confused now. Do I tell him (it would have to be over-the-phone) about affair or just evaulate my own fears and discuss with him? I never thought I could do something so hurtful and disrespectful to him.

Carolyn Hax: Your slip is telling you something. What, I'm not sure, but tuning it out instead of listening to it would be a bigger mistake than your actual mistake. Stop, breathe, think. What do you know that you;re trying to tell yourself isn't true?

_______________________

FedEX: Yes you can FedEx overnight for Saturday Delivery. I do it for my job every Friday. Good Luck!

Carolyn Hax: No no, I mean First Overnight. The before-whatever-a.m. delivery. I'm being a real FedEx geek here.

_______________________

Pack Rat's Wife: From a couple of months ago:

My husband was the one who put straws in the dishwasher and pulled empty containers out of the trash -- well last week my young son asked if I could save his nail clippings! I've run to a counselor. We're laughing about it at least, but there has been an acknowledgment of a larger issue.

Just thought you'd want an update.

Carolyn Hax: And, a parting shot all in one.

Thanks everybody, have a great weekend and type to you next week.

_______________________

Richmond, VA: Date Night Buddies! Find one. I was complaining to a not so close friend that we could never get a sitter so we never went on dates and she said the same. We decided to take turns watching each other's kids by waiting until after the kids are in bed, then either husband A or wife A comes to watch Couple B's kids and vice versa. Once a week (or two), going to a neighbor's quiet house with no chores staring you in the face and a good book for a couple of hours is an added bonus.

Carolyn Hax: good one, thanks.

Just posting stuff as I go through the outtakes. I'm still gone. Bye.

_______________________

for marriage counselor: Also, pick one thing in your monthly budget that's equal to counseling, and see if you can do without it. Think of it this way, do you want to tell people, "I got divorced because my cell phone was more important than repairing my marriage"?

Carolyn Hax: Ow.

_______________________

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