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Carolyn Hax Live: Advice Columnist Tackles Your Problems
Thursday, June 4, 2009; 12:00 PM
In her daily column in The Washington Post Style section, 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.
Carolyn was online Thursday, June 4 taking 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.
E-mail Carolyn at email@example.com.
ID: My husband and his ex-wife have been divorced for 10 years. She was re-married for 8-9 years and used her new husband's name during that time. She recently divorced him and changed her name back to my husband's name. She has kids with both men, so "same name as the kids" doesn't apply. Is this normal? How should we respond? Given other stalker-ish behaviors in the past, it feels very creepy to me.
Carolyn Hax: I would have to know more about what you regard as "other stalker-ish behaviors," because the name issue alone doesn't even raise my eyebrows. People use complicated formulas to settle on a name, especially where marriage, divorce and remarriage are involved, and those formulas can include anything from a professional reputation to just liking the way something sounds.
Carolyn Hax: Oh, and, hi everybody. Thanks for switching to Thursday--it's end-of-school-year-event season, and I'm trying to get through it with as few schedule adjustments as possible.
toxicity: Purging toxic friends seems to be all the rage these days. In the last year, I had a close friendship fracture. While some of my former friend's actions were questionable (she accused me of not reaching out to her, which is simply untrue since there are several unanswered emails, voicemails and text messages from me to her over the course of around 3 months, inviting her to things, and separately, she admitted to snubbing me at a social event that we both attended), I also wonder if I'd been too needy of her or demanding of her time and sometimes snarky about her behind her back to, among other things, be considered a toxic friend.
So, two questions: 1) how do I figure out whether I was a toxic friend (so I can not be a toxic friend to others in the future)? And 2) I feel like our friendship was unique and that I didn't behave that way with other friends -- are there just combinations of people/personalities that are more likely to develop into toxic friendships?
Carolyn Hax: When a friendship falls apart, I think it's normal to want to figure out why. But if you aren't getting any answers out of the other person, and if you can identify some of your own bad behavior (the back-snarking in particular), and if you don't have a pattern of broken friendships that suggests a larger problem on your part, then I don't see why you have to prostrate yourself to get am-I-toxic?-type answers.
It wasn't a great friendship. It ended. Oh well.
Vienna, VA: My younger sister is finally marrying the man of her dreams at 36. She's a doctor and has had a few serious guys but it never worked out. Our youngest sister has been married, divorced, had two broken engagements, and a string of loser boyfriends. She's seems to think she's the expert on relationships, that she can see right through people. So, all I hear is that our about-to-be married sister is making a mistake. Her fiancee picks out her clothes (he's controlling), he's in a band (a party guy), he's like our dad (cheated on our mom), he's made a comment once about her being a doctor (fortune hunter) etc. All looking for the worst in him. I've been married 20 years and none of these things raise any red flags to me- I see your basic give-and-take relationship. Cynical sister and I are at odds since I don't share her doom and gloom attitude towards the impending marriage. I maintain that only time will tell. Either one of us may be right.
My question is: Could she be right? Or is cynical sister so far 'jaded' that she can't see that they are right for each other and destined to happy ever after? Is my assumption that husband-to-be is a good, honest, solid guy wrong? Should I stop believing that people are inherently genuine, nice and decent, or should I always wait for some "true nature" to show itself???
Carolyn Hax: I suspect you're both looking at the wrong person--well, actually, the wrong people, plural. You're both looking at the groom, and in doing so you're really holding a referendum on the other sisters, and using those results to bolster or question your images of yourselves. You're essentially asking, is it possible my youngest/oldest -sister- is the one who's seeing people through the sharpest lens? Really? Given the choices she's made? Don't my choices make me smarter?
That's the perfect setup for a competition among sisters.
But to gauge the well-being of your soon-to-be-married sister, it would make much more sense to focus on your sister herself. Is she her usual self with this guy around--at ease, non-defensive, possessed of her usual sensibilities/sense of humor/habits/etc.? Or does she seem to be acting a part, offering up a lot of (un-asked-for) excuses for his behavior, abandoning things you always knew her to love, etc?
If she's at ease with herself and her choice, that doesn't necessarily mean the marriage will last happily ever after. It does indicate, though, that she is self-possessed and making her own decisions, not marching to his orders, and that, in turn, suggests she'll be okay even if the marriage turns out not to be. It's the people who are plainly at someone else's mercy who warrant the greatest concern.
Herndon, VA: Dear Carolyn,
Do you think that people should not care about the impressions their significant others make in public? Is it normal to care about what other people think about your SO or should this be completely inconsequential in a relationship? I catch myself thinking about what friends and coworkers will think about my SO, if they think we're a good match, etc. and I feel like this shouldn't matter to me at all.
Carolyn Hax: It has to matter a little. Public opinion isn't everything, and you certainly shouldn't live or die by it, but if you think of it just as other sets of eyes, then the information you get can be useful.
For example, what if nobody likes this person? I don't mean your basic "my friends don't like her" (which is valuable in itself), but your friends recoil -and- she has no friends of her own. It doesn't mean that you dump her on the spot, but it is telling you to think carefully about whether you're seeing something in her no one else can see, or whether you're -missing- something about her that everyone else has figured out.
For some reason, sonar just popped into my head. You still rely on the information you gather with your eyes and ears, but it also can't hurt to bounce some waves off the people around you, and see what comes back. Gives you an even better idea where you stand.
well on paper, he is a loser: 36 years old, and still making comments about marrying a doctor while in a band? PICK'S HER CLOTHES? Sorry, but that is 100% controlling. I was a counselor at an abused women's center and picking your wife's clothes is a starting point for abuse. It's about her sexuality and not wanted her to appear too attractive to other people and telling her she can be trusted to pick her own clothes. Men without self confidance have to do this when they marry women with good educations and careers.
Carolyn Hax: That's one interpretation, certainly. But, again, maybe she hates clothes, maybe his "he's made a comment once about her being a doctor" really was just one comment, and maybe he's an able and dedicated musician who is the perfect artistic yin to her professional yang.
People who have taken up residence under someone's thumb rarely do so without giving off signs--withdrawing from their close friends and family, for example, and then, when they do finally get away, checking in every 30 minutes to get permission to be away from the controlling person. Or, they give up things they used to love and, when you question it, they dismiss how much they used to care, as if you just didn't really know them then. Or they find the need to explain things that never occurred to you would need an explanation--"I'm wearing this sweater because [etc.]"--or they make excuses for their mate--"S/he's just really stressed right now."
There are signs. These signs from her are more reliable than the on-paper decisions they've made.
Re: Vienna, Va.: I wanted to touch on something you said in your response to the competing sisters question. I love my girlfriend and we are working towards marriage. But, the way I see it, if it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the world. The problem is, my girlfriend takes this attitude to mean that I'm either not as committed to her as she is to me, or that I love her less. How do I explain that it's just being self-possessed?
Carolyn Hax: Stop trying to justify yourself to her, and instead concentrate on whether she's the right one for you. If she is, then her perception of you will have to stand on its own (vs. being the product of careful perception maintenance on your part).
Washington, D.C.: I have a girlfriend that has a few annoying quirks. She is very pretty, intelligent, (tho lacking common sense), we share some similar interests, and the sex is amazing.
I love her, but she has this incessant need to be around me 24-7. If I express an interest in spending time with some friends (without her) she immediately spins into a guilt-filled self-loathing way that usually causes me to cancel plans with said friends.
I am feeling more and more disconnected form my friends and myself. How can approach this with her in a way that won't result in another guilt-trip argument?
Carolyn Hax: Break up with her. Ta da.
You may love her, but it sure doesn't sound as if you like her much, and you're both caving to her attempts to control you and chafing at them. Surely there are other smart people who are good in bed.
Arlington, VA: How long before I bring up marriage? My boyfriend and I have known each other over 10 years. We've been officially together under a year. Everything is going great, we love each other and I want to spend my life with him. How do I approach this subject, and when?
Carolyn Hax: What's your hurry? (In reference to the dating-under-a-year, not the known-each-other-for-10).
Carolyn Hax: That's actually not a rhetorical question. Why is it you want this now, vs wanting to wait, say, a year?
For Herndon: I do think there's a difference between the sonar Carolyn describes, and undue emphasis on the status that your S.O. confers on you.
I've known too many people who were more concerned with how their S.O. made them look to others (e.g., by being gorgeous, rich, popular, a "catch") than in their actual compatibility.
Carolyn Hax: Fer sher. I think it's a matter of finding someone you like for your own reasons--since the majority of your relationship will occur between the two of you alone (at least until you have five kids, accumulate a cargo hold's worth of baggage and simmering resentments, take up separate interests and actively court estrangement)--and who doesn't make you cringe when you're out in public. Gotta be at ease, both at home and away games.
Advice/suggestions on releasing anger...: I separated from a volunteer organization recently, I had worked with them over 10 years and led the annual event, and the events leading up to my resignation can be summed up in that I was treated terribly, so I left. Almost every day my mind will wander over the whole thing again, I'll get into "Well, if I had said this...or pointed out this..." things would have turned out different, but I know that isn't the case. I do okay with consciously pulling my mind off that path, but any other thoughts? I do understand that the anger will dissipate with time, and am enjoying other activities, but thought some other ideas might be useful. Thanks!
Carolyn Hax: Sounds as if you've got the right idea already. I will say specifically, though, that if you can look at the other activities you're enjoying as the direct byproduct of the mistreatment and meltdown at your old organization, then that can really accelerate the toward anger-dissipation process. To use a silly example, you're going to be a lot less upset about your divorce if you fall in love with your divorce attorney (come to think of it, an actual "Sex and the City" subplot ...). When you see the bad as the gateway to something good, your opinion of the bad will soften considerably, even sometimes to the point of gratitude. It might not happen right away, since these other pursuits might be too new to have borne any fruit, but just opening your mind to the idea can help in the meantime.
URGENT New York: Hi Carolyn:
Tomorrow night i'm going to see a few friends I haven't seen in a while. They're all married, I'm single. All of the wives are pregnant, I'm not. They're all making a lot of money and have successful careers. I'm not and don't. I've also been struggling to find a good job in a new field and have been battling serious depression.
What do I say when they ask how I'm doing? I know I can just say "good" and smile but I'm worried I'm going to start crying because I feel so inferior to all of them. How can I get through this? I know I could just not go, but I do want to see a few of the people, they have been good friends in the past, and I don't want to get even more isolated than I am now. One of the people in the group is my ex-boyfriend, who I think is still angry that I didn't come to his wedding because I canceled at the last minute (had just broken up with my serious boyfriend days before the wedding).
Help! I think I actually need a script so I don't act like a freak.
Carolyn Hax: The tough part about gatherings like this is that they're just a snapshot. Life is a long, changeable, unpredictable thing, and the facts in place on any given day can say only so much about the whole.
You do make a good case that you'll look very different from the rest of the crowd in this particular snapshot. But I can also make a case that some of the pregnant women will feel uncomfortably huge, and some of the people with great careers may themselves be in your starting-over position a year from now, and some of the marriages will become strained after the children arrive, if they aren't strained already. This isn't to wish any of them ill, or to prop you up by bashing everyone else--it's just to make the point that just as your friends will see only a snapshot of you this weekend, you too will see only a snapshot of them.
Meanwhile, these are friends. I would hope they can both understand what a low point feels like, and offer you a sense of inclusion vs. proof that you don't belong. There's nothing wrong with seeing yourself as someone they can identify with: You're trying a new career path at a difficult time. That's not freaky, that's life.
Re: Controlling: I'm on the opposite side of the equation, where I end up treating my partner as if she's controlling, and it angers her that I expect that behavior from her. She has explained that she is not the same person as my controlling mother, but this doesn't seem to sink in for me. In some ways I expect everyone to have my mother's personality. How can I change this expectation? The idea that someone not caring whether or not I please him or her seems too good to be true.
Carolyn Hax: Have you had any counseling? When you're aware of a problem and the awareness itself hasn't been enough to solve it, then that's often when a competent, professional set of eyes can really be useful.
There's that argument for a pro, and there's also fact that your partner gets angry at you for being you. That can be either your inaccurate view of her feelings, or it can be a sign that she's controlling in her own way, too, since anger gives people powerful leverage over those who are non-confrontational by nature. Please have this one checked.
Herndon, VA: Hi Carolyn,
It's me again. See.... the poster's comments above exemplify my point.... "he's in a band therefore he's a loser". People judge people all of the time and it really bothers me that people could judge my SO or my relationship. There are no warning signs, my SO is great, but I catch myself caring too much what people think. How can I stop?
Carolyn Hax: It's good that you brought up the example of the band-member groom--your question covers a different part of that same topic.
You are seeing people's comments as a reflection on you. Instead, please try to see their comments as reflections on them. Are they people you respect? Do they have actual knowledge of the situation, or are a few facts just meeting up with a few of their prejudices?
The question to ask yourself is not, "What do they think of my boyfriend," but, "How valuable is their opinion of my boyfriend?" Know their character, weigh their proximity to the truth, and value their viewpoints accordingly. You don't want to think too highly of your own opinion, or too highly of everyone else's. It's all about finding a balance.
For URGENT New York: To give you another perspective, I always admire people who are courageous enough to pursue a new career, remain single when I'm sure they could be coupled if they wanted to be, and in short, to march to the beat of their own drummer. I'm financially secure and happily married with a beautiful baby boy, but I always think "Gosh, I wish I were that brave" when I meet people who are doing their own thing. Be proud of your choices.
Carolyn Hax: Can't argue with that, thanks.
Some advice for URGENT: I completely agree with Carolyn, really, but would like to give you a snarky-ish angle from which to look at this, one that works for me: Your friends have already "achieved" many of the most exciting things that will ever happen to them. What's left for them? 4pm dinners! Death! What's left for you? Everything!
Low points - I've been in them - are just part of your story. And every great story needs a struggle.
Carolyn Hax: Snarktastic, thank you.
NYC: Hi Carolyn.
When is someone's question just too nosy? I moved into an apartment building a couple of months ago. I'm pretty independent and mind my own business and don't step over neighborly boundaries. However, I was asked by one of my neighbors who I live with and how they are related to me, meaning friend, boyfriend, husband. We've never had any communication before and don't have any friendly relationship where I would warrant this question and deem it acceptable? What do you think? OK or was neighbor inappropriate and super nosy?
Carolyn Hax: Super nosy. How did you respond?
Your own mi, ND: Carolyn, if my husband feels the need to tell me every time he spends so much as $5 on lunch and I do not feel the same need, what's a reasonable compromise? He does not insist that I tell him where/how I spend my money, but pouts if he asks and I say "I bought some things" or something similarly non-specific. For the record, a percentage of his check and mine go into a joint account used to pay our mutual bills, another percentage into joint savings, and the remainder into separate individual accounts that we are SUPPOSED to be able to use for ourselves without the other questioning our spending habits, as we both know that this is the source of many arguments between other couples. How is this a viable system, however, when he tells me every dime he spends from his account and then expects me to reciprocate? It's beginning to get frustrating for me, especially as I know he makes so much more and spends so much less and yet still seems to want to know where every dime goes...
Carolyn Hax: I would suggest saying, "If you have something to say about my spending, please say it." If he says he doesn't, then let him know that you're getting frustrated with his questions about what you spent--since you and he agreed explicitly -not- to question each other--and that you'd appreciate -not- knowing what he spent for lunch.
It's really a matter of setting out two paths, and giving him the choice of one or the other: Address his concerns about your money setup by revisiting all the decisions that led you to it, or start enforcing more strictly the terms of your current setup, by answering his specific queries with, "Are you concerned about something?" That way, he knows you're willing to be transparent with your information, but only if he's transparent about his motives for asking.
To NYC with Nosy Neighbor: Don't freak out. I have a nosy new work neighbor, and I found out her nosiness was sparked by her single son who wanted to know if I was seeing anyone. It turned out to be somewhat flattering. I've learned that people of a certain age with single children of a certain age are always going to be nosy. Just be nice. Nosy neighbors are necessary to catch burglars and such.
Carolyn Hax: It's a fine line, and it also moves: Some people get away with asking incredibly personal questions without triggering any defenses, while others really rankle no matter how harmless their questions might be.
Generally I think people who are worried about being nosy, vs. being friendly, can avoid the former if they're open about why they're interested, and if they leave it to the other person to offer the relevant info -if they want to-. This is kind of a lame example, but you'll get the idea: "There are a lot of nice single people in this building, if you'd ever like me to introduce you around." That allows a person to say, "Yes, please do," when interested; "That's kind of you, but I have a partner/spouse," when you want to correct an incorrect impression; or just, "Thank you," when you don't feel like offering up your personal status to a stranger.
Someone on the receiving end can always inquire, with a smile/non-defensively, "Why do you ask?" Before giving anything up, you're entitled to know why.
Reston, VA (wrote in 2 weeks ago): Archeological Dig BF again: Hi Carolyn, I wrote in about my BF going to an archeological site for 2.5 months. I understand why you would call me a Piker and tell me it's not a long time. I have enough of a life to have a fulfilling summer. I guess I was really more worried about the fact that he might forget about me, what with all the grad students (many girls) running around in scuba gear at their isolated cliff site. He did insist he wants to be monogamous. Am I being silly and insecure? Should I just tell myself to shut up?
Carolyn Hax: Well, you can be nicer to yourself: "Hey, insecurities, would you please keep it down in there? I'm trying to enjoy myself."
This will never ever ever be as easy as it looks in print, but it is always always always true: If he falls for someone else, he will have done you a favor. He's either blown away by you, or he isn't. He either sees it as a privilege to remain faithful to you, or he doesn't. You either have something that renders this separation as a blip, or you don't.
You only want the former, and you only want it if it's mutual. So often the things we regard as problems are actually solutions.
Your own mi, ND: Me again. Thanks, Carolyn. I've tried just telling him before, because I honestly don't mind telling him, but he will make comments regarding my decisions and it drives me batty. "You spent $20 on that?" or "Why are you buying lunch three days a week? I save money by taking lunch every day." or "Why did you treat when you went to dinner with X? She makes as much as you do. Let her buy her own dinner." and when I respond with "Is there a problem? Do we need the money? Are the bills not getting paid or are you short or something?", he comes back with "No, but I think you're making foolish choices". I've said "Well, but we agreed that this is my money to spend and this is how I choose to spend it, so what's the problem?" he pouts. We are not hurting for money, although we are not wealthy, and I don't spend money recklessly, but he pouts if I don't tell him or nitpicks when I do. I can't win.
Carolyn Hax: No, you can't, not if you allow these discussions to continue on these small-picture, what-I-spent-for-this terms.
Big picture, he doesn't respect your choices, nor does he respect your right to make your own choices. You need to call him out on that: "You just said, 'I think you're making foolish choices.' I'm hearing that as, you don't respect me or my right to spend my own money. Is this what you're saying to me?"
Please do not back away from this difficult conversation. If it stalls, then take it to a reputable marriage counselor. The issue may seem like nickels and dimes, but it's really about respect and trust, the very foundation of what you have together, and without it you're both looking at growing stockpiles of resentment.
Syracuse, NY: I'm 47 and pregnant with our second child. A woman at church keeps dropping hints about IVF (in-vitro fertilization), i.e., "How many do you have in there? Four?" (there's only one), and asking, "Is it natural?" I tried the "Why do you ask?" response, but she just responds, "'Cause I'm curious!" What else can I say to this ballsy be-yotch?
Carolyn Hax: "You're curious, but I'm private. Have a nice day."
"Why do you ask?" : Funny, my nice neighbor and I were just comiserating about a new neighbor with that tone. Seems we folks over 40 were taught to welcome people to the neighborhood, spark up a conversation, make a few polite attempts at common ground. The new kids on the block are GenXers (or Yers) and don't seem interested in simply making some local connections. We all have great friends, may not need any more, but sometimes in the middle of the night, you need your neighbors. Don't snub them now, you never know when you'll get locked out and wish you hadn't been so smart aleck when they put out the hand of friendship.
Carolyn Hax: Agh, it's -not- smart-aleck, and my suggestion was not to cop a tone, but instead to smile and inquire non-defensively. When people are being asked a question that violates their sense of privacy, they have a right to protect that privacy with a gentle and polite deflection that allows them to find out more about the person who is asking them to share.
I also object to the idea that it's a generational issue. It's quite possible I've moved enough to be a one-woman statistically relevant sample, and I've had plenty of snooty neighbors of all ages, along with welcoming neighbors of all ages. Your zeroing on that, in fact, suggests you're judging these people based on a surface trait combined with an existing bias. That whiff of judgmental attitude from you might better explain why they're resisting your overtures than their age does.
People who are asking for details on the newcomer -for the sole purpose of being neighborly- will come across that way only if they show a willingness to be forthcoming about themselves first--both providing exactly the level of detail they're hoping to receive from the newbies, and understanding that the newbies are under no obligation to pony up just because you asked. That is a friendly overture. If you've just offered that you live alone or with your spouse or with your widowed mother, then you can be suspicious of a, "Why do you ask?" because it will be abundantly obvious why you asked.
That may have been the case with your and your neighbor's overtures, so I don't mean to suggest otherwise, but you do need to lay off the gen-Y huff. Not cool, and not good for your case.
Spending money: So, if somebody is making foolish choices, you can't call them out on it?
You can respect and love someone without thinking that everything they do is wise/healthy/prudent. Why does your answer suggest differently?
Carolyn Hax: The answer is right there in her question: because they had an agreement to combine resources for expenses and savings, to keep their discretionary money separate, money "that we are SUPPOSED to be able to use for ourselves without the other questioning our spending habits."
So, if he has a problem with that arrangement, he needs to have the [spine] to SAY so and ask for a different arrangement, instead of nitpicking her choices and pouting when he doesn't get his way. Either he agrees it's her business, or doesn't. What he's doing is trying to have it both ways, which is not only seriously obnoxious, but also bad for the marriage.
So the question becomes: Why does your question suggest differently?
Re: brave: Really? Being single is being brave?
Really, Carolyn, I think you missed this one. That statement says a whole lot more about the poster than anything else.
Geez. I'm single. It's not anything monumental or courageous or any other condescending adjective you'd like to label it.
Carolyn Hax: For anyone who wants to be married for the sake of being married, there is a bad-marriage opportunity available at just about every turn.
Therefore, someone who remains single has, consciously or not (but usually consciously), declined to get married just for the sake of being married, and instead is choosing to be alone, for however long it takes until marriage is the right move. That does take the courage of one's convictions, especially when the single person feels the external pressure of an entire peer group that has already paired off.
So I guess it's the difference between seeing someone as single by default, or single by choice. Seeing it as single by choice is a compliment, I would think, not condescension.
"I'm curious.": Response: "Yes, you certainly are. Have a good day."
Carolyn Hax: Works for me.
differing spending philosophies: Maybe he's scared about money. Maybe there were layoffs at work. Instead of making it all about him criticizing you, open it up for an equal discussion about finances. In this economy, a LOT of people are reopening money discussions and changing priorities. It's a very scary time for a lot of people. Don't make it all about him not respecting you.
Carolyn Hax: Then he needs to say he's scared about money. That was the point of my initial advice: saying to him, "If there's something you'd like to say, please say it." The point is exactly to treat his nitpicking as a sign of a larger concern, and to draw him out so he can express it.
If he doesn't take that opportunity to speak his mind, then he's -not- "reopening money discussions and changing priorities." He's just getting on her case without getting out there and owning his opinion. That's when it becomes disrespectful to her, treating her like an impulsive child but not granting her the opportunity to adapt with him or to speak on her own behalf.
Carlsbad, N.M.: How do I figure out what to be when I grow up?
Carolyn Hax: I dunno, but it's easier if you grow up first, then figure it out. Otherwise you'll just change your mind when you get there.
Philadelphia, PA: I recently found out a close friend has a very sick mother. I was the last person he told, and he only told me because he couldn't avoid the subject anymore. It is clear that he doesn't want to talk about it, but I am concerned for him and his family. Is it okay to occasionally ask how his mother is doing, or should I simply not bring it up at all?
Carolyn Hax: Ask him. Tell him you sense and respect that he's reluctant to talk about it, but that you also care--then ask if he'd mind the occasional inquiry, or if he'd prefer to bring it up himself.
This might feel like tiptoeing gone extreme, but if your gut tells you that he might choose, (b) "Don't even mention it," then he might well be that private a guy. However, it's still worth it to ask, because some people who give off a "go away" vibe don't realize they're doing it, and would in fact be hurt and mystified if no nobody inquired after his mom.
Re: Nosy IVF Church Lady: I completely agree that the inquisitor is being nosy and rude. With that in mind, suppose she was wondering for her own possible IVF journey? Would that make the question less horrid? I'm not a lady, let alone a church going pregnant one; I'm just curious.
Carolyn Hax: Again, if you have reasons for asking a nosy question, then you need to make those reasons clear before you ask.
That said, I still don't think it would be appropriate to approach this person on an IVF pretext just because she's an older mom. There are support groups and online communities that allow you to ask your question of veterans without having to jump to conclusions about strangers.
wow: I hope you are also seeing some responses supportive of what you said to the woman with the money issue. I'm the one who's controlling about money in my marriage, and think he is way over the line. If they've decided it's hers to spend he has to let her spend it. If that arrangement doesn't work for him, they can try to figure something else out (but only imagine how much worse it would be if they make all the money joint and he could comb through her bank account to criticize every penny she spends).
Carolyn Hax: Yes, they're out there, and thanks for being one of them.
And now, another wow entirely--I had no idea it was past 3:20. So, this is most definitely it for today, bye, thanks, seeya next week when we return to the usual Friday.
Single=brave: I get what you're saying, but I equate this "compliment" to how Chris Rock felt about being praised for raising his children and not beating them up and being a good husband -- that's what you're SUPPOSED to do. That's why it comes out as condescenion, especially from a married person. It's like you're trying to make us feel better about something we shouldn't feel bad about and something that's a normal and healthy choice.
Carolyn Hax: (Sound of hand meeting forehead, then forehead striking keyboard.)
The comment was made to someone who listed being single among marrieds as one of the things that made her feel bad about herself. Specifically: "I'm going to start crying because I feel so inferior to all of them."
So if Chris Rock had been complaining about feeling like a bad father, then the compliments wouldn't have been ridiculous--they were ridiculous because he wasn't looking for affirmation.
So, please, let's not get so defensive that we question affirmation for someone who was openly seeking it.
Carlsbad again: True that, I'm 31 and didn't pick super-well the first time around. How does one go about choosing better?
Carolyn Hax: Come back next week?
Carolyn Hax: Really finished now, I swear.
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