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Carolyn Hax Live: I Had An Affair With My Wife's New Boss - Do I Tell Her?, My Girlfriend Is Puppy-Crazy, I Hate New York City, We're Married, But Don't Live Together - Weird?, Peanut Butter And Jelly Breaks, And More

Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 7, 2009 12:00 PM

Carolyn was online Friday, July 31 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.

Carolyn's Recent Columns

Past Carolyn Hax Live Discussions

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Carolyn Hax: Hey everybody. Will be getting started in just a sec.

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Saginaw, Mich.: What's the best way for disarming a needy and abusive in-law if you have to be cramped in with them on a vacation together over the holidays?

Carolyn Hax: Just don't engage. It can be really, really difficult to sustain that strategy over many days, but if you prepare yourself with a few responses ahead of time ("I'm going to go for a walk/see if they need help in the kitchen/make a run to the store," or, a few neutral topics you can raise, especially topics that appeal to/flatter said in-law), that can often override your impulse to take the bait for an argument.

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New York, N.Y.: Hi Carolyn! I moved to NYC for a job and I hate it here. My job is fine but after 2.5 years, I'm definitely bored. To make things worse, my biological clock finally got a battery and now it's ticking like nobody's business. Now, I'm 37- very single (no real prospects), in a city that I hate and I don't know what to do. I don't really want to date New York guys because I don't want to stay here. The economy is going to make a job change even harder. Please- give me some good thoughts...

Carolyn Hax: Good thoughts are so personal, so it's hard for me to have them for you. Plus, the way you trotted out the negatives tells me you're positioned to argue against whatever I suggest anyway.

That in itself seems like a good place for you to start in dealing with this unhappy spot you're in. Being negative is easy. There will always be a downside to everything good, a hurdle to everything desirable, a con to every pro. The real courage is in finding the good in what you have, the opportunities in every hurdle, the pros in every con. If you're waiting for these to arrive at your doorstep as fully realized life plans, good luck.

A few people do well seemingly because the good-luck fairy likes them a whole lot, but upon closer inspection there's usually evidence that these people positioned themselves for good things to happen, even if just by remaining flexible in their attitudes toward whatever they were going through, or by getting impatient with themselves when they started complaining too much.

Even more important, I think this is also a good time to start unearthing the assumptions underlying your view of your circumstances. Sure, someone you date in New York might want to stay in New York, but what's with assuming all of them do?

And let's say you do run across someone who loves the place above all others: Maybe it would be interesting to see the city through that person's eyes.

As for the economy, yes, it sucks, but that doesn't mean there's no point in even looking for another job. You can't know that till you try.

Basically, you need to stop assuming your way out of every solution, and instead kick yourself out of your rut in one way or another. The first thing to consider in these situations is how to get the most change for buck. Job hunting within your current company, dating, scouting potential new cities, even forcing yourself to take in New York as a tourist--dating the city, if you will, to see if you get find a more appealing side to it.

Then, when you get even the slightest glimmer of an opening ahead, run at it. There's no easy alternative.

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Saginaw, Mich.: Shoot. I was hoping you were going to advise "shots of tequila."

Carolyn Hax: I said not to engage with the in-law; what you do engage with is up to you.

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Bethesda, Md.: Carolyn, how do I know the right time to propose to a long-time girlfriend? We have talked about it before, and we knows it's going to happen at some point. As I am a little older, I would like this to happen sooner, rather than later. She is starting law school this fall and I am worried she wont want to deal with planning a wedding while in school. What do you think?

Carolyn Hax: Propose now and decide together how you want to handle the wedding. Courthouse Room 304 has served just fine for a lot of people, and there's also nothing/no one to say (except your longtime GF herself) that you can't shoulder most of the planning on your own, or farm it out to an event planner, or--like whoa--keep it really simple.

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Lake Forest, Ill.: I'm struggling with how to remain friends with someone after they didn't return romantic feelings for me. Do I really need to hear about all the sexploits? I'm not sure why I'm being told any of this, but we did have always have a close friendship before. I feel awkward about standing up for something now when it never bothered me before. Or I guess I'm just being immature. I don't know. I guess the grown up thing to do is smile, nod, and cheer this person on. Can I drop this friendship even it means being immature?

Carolyn Hax: Who decides what's immature? Is there a manual that says, "Other people can act abysmally, but the Mature Person will suffer their thoughtlessness and insensitivity without complaint."

Please tell your "friend" that you find the tales of sexploits to be insensitive given your history with this person. His/her response to it will tell you whether you can take the quotation marks off the title of "friend," or whether you can end the friendship without its being a mark on your record of courage and maturity.

... I just realized that I'm assuming your feelings were stated plainly and rejected. If your unrequited love is also an unexpressed love, then the answer changes. lemme know if I guessed wrong.

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Boston: Hi Carolyn - I submitted a question last week regarding moving to New England from the south to be with my fiance. We had a long distance relationship for five years before I moved. Now that I'm here we don't seem to do anything but work although I recently lost my job. I really don't like it up here. I had a great job and had friends and wasn't that far from family before I moved. You mentioned talking to him and I have tried, but he doesn't want to leave. He also gets mad/upset when I bring up the subject. I love him, yet the thought of staying up here depresses me. Any thoughts?

Carolyn Hax: I'm not sure I have a magic suggestion for you, except a recommendation that you make up your mind. Either you're staying for the relationship--in which case you need to put all your emotional weight into giving the place a chance and establishing some roots there--or you're calling it quits and moving back home. I'd be willing to bet that whiny indecisiveness has killed more relationships than money and infidelity combined, and it's a slow death at that.

One more thing. I would normally argue vehemently against investing any more in someone who gets "mad/upset" when you try to express your feelings, and in this case I'm still going to caution against it, but I'll take out the vehemence because you haven't said what you've said in these conversations.

Either way, really, you do need to [poop] or get off the Beanpot.

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Springfield, Va.: Carolyn,

I would just point out that the WRONG time to propose to your girlfriend is when you're scared because she's starting a huge new life venture and you're not sure how/whether you're going to fit into it, and how she's going to change as a result of it.

Just tossing it out there.

Carolyn Hax: Like a grenade, only potentially more accurate. Thanks.

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Chicago: Carolyn, I completely agree with your notion that those who seem to have lots of good luck usually are just really good at recognizing and acting on opportunities. But what if I'm trying to run straight at opportunities when I see something promising or interesting, and I end up slamming into a wall? How can I not get discouraged and still continue to leap towards things? (I feel there was a lot of physical activity involved in these analogies, and now I'm tired.)

Carolyn Hax: If you're sitting around and you're frustrated, then you need to consider charging headlong at more opportunities. If you're frustrated at hitting too many brick walls, then you need to consider picking your spots a little more thoughtfully. When applying advice to others to your own situation, you'll always have to do some adapting (mercifully, or else I'd have been out o' business by 1998). In your case, I'd put my mental highlighter to the "recognizing" in the "recognizing and acting on opportunities." Regroup by trying to get a better fix on what you want and what would suit you. It could be you;re choosing just fine and you're just having more trouble than you expected in breaking through--but revisiting your goals wouldn't hurt regardless. Beats quitting and self-doubt.

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How about cash for clunkers for my boyfriend?: I could use an upgrade.

Carolyn Hax: Staying with a clunker would cost you a whole lot more than the ... what is it, $4,500? you're hoping to get for a trade-in. Better not to have any car at all.

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Carolyn Hax: I have to take about 5 min to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. No way around it. I'm sorry.

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Arlington, Va.: How does one delicately tell ones adult child that they really don't know everything at 22? And perhaps mom still knows a little more than she does?

Carolyn Hax: If you really do know more than she does, then you know 1. she might be right about this (whatever it is) after all; that 2. even if she's wrong, telling her that usually doesn't help anyway, especially with someone immature; and 3. that the wisdom you have that you'd most like to impart to her is the kind you acquired by finding things out for yourself.

So, delicately understand that she has to find her own way, and don't step in unless there's imminent danger.

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Virginia: Is there anything inherently wrong with a couple, after getting married, NOT living together? It's laziness more than anything (trying to clean out one place, sell it, etc.), and neither I nor my wife are bothered by it. We're 20 minutes away from each other, just like we were for the six years prior to us getting engaged/married. Nothing in our "routine" has changed. So why does the rest of the world seem to get a little bit bent out of shape? Am I in denial for thinking this really isn't all that abnormal?

Carolyn Hax: It nobody's business but yours, and you have a right to tell the world this in as artful a way as you can summon.

However, you have to admit it's a bit odd. Couples often have one of two strong motivations to share a home, if not both--to spend time together, and to save the expense of maintaining two homes. That you have neither motivation isn't the antithesis of marriage (it's an institution that could use a little more open-mindedness, if you ask me), but it's clearly a choice to live/love outside the mainstream. Surely you're aware of that? Suggesting otherwise seems disingenuous.

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Somewhere, USA: Realtime crisis. I had an affair four years ago with a woman I met at my wife's office. The woman pushed and pushed for a more serious commitment, but I decided to focus that attention on my marriage and backed out of the affair. I never told my wife--I don't believe any good would have come of doing so.

Now it's now. My wife had several lateral moves throughout the year and as of this Monday will be reporting directly to that woman, to whom she refers as "the one you liked from that party." Because they were in different offices for those four years, the woman never interacted with my wife, which is the only reason my wife never found out how much the woman hates her.

I have two fears now that my wife and the woman will be in the same workspace every day: (1) that it will affect my wife's career negatively (her number one enemy is in power over her) and (2) that somehow my wife will find out what happened four years ago. Is now the best or worst possible time to come clean? Or is there anything I can do to prevent damage?

Carolyn Hax: Can I just say,

Wow.

I don't want all the responsibility for this one on me, so I'm urging everyone out there to weigh in if you have something constructive to say. But the only answer I can see here is that you tell your wife what happened. You can't send an unwitting victim into shark-infested waters, especially not when you're the only reason she's a victim in the first place.

Okay everyone, have at it.

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Carolyn Hax: Mr. Somewhere, USA, your new nickname is "Chum."

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Washington, D.C.: I am very attracted to someone at work. We have hung out outside the office a few times and I want to ask her out on an actual date. However, she's a conservative devout evangelical Christian and I'm basically a liberal agnostic. In your experience, can a relationship succeed under those circumstances or is it just impossible and I shouldn't even bother asking her out in the first place?

Carolyn Hax: If you're attracted to her character, personality and beliefs, go for it. If you're attracted to her backside, don't.

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Washington, D.C.: Carolyn: my 40-something best friend needs to go to rehab. Some other girlfriends and I have helped prepare her husband by looking up some info for him (insurance coverage, nearby facilities, etc.)but now we are all at a loss to figure out how to go about the actual act of persuading her to go. How do you feel about the group intervention, versus just her husband going it alone? I was thinking that maybe Al-Anon would help him, and us, prepare.

Carolyn Hax: No harm in preparing, but I would suggest you let the husband try first. It's not as if you get one shot at it. He should talk to his wife, and if that doesn't work, then you go to Plan B. If he's the one asking you to step in, then please encourage him to approach her himself.

If he hasn't asked you to step in, then that's all the more reason to give the two of them a change to address this from within the marriage.

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Shark as Boss: I would say that he needs to come clean. If for no other reason, the wife has a legitimate conflict of interest concern at work, and may need to know the details for when she reports this woman to HR and/or requests another supervisor.

Carolyn Hax: I can see only one dissent from this opinion so far, and one plea for an update after it all goes down.

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For Shark-Infested Waters...: If he tells his wife now, that means the last four years of their marriage has been a lie (well, they HAVE, only now she will know it).

While I am not in favor of deception, all the same, here is a thought:

Could he possibly (did he have to wait until this last minute possible?) meet face to face with this Other Woman, and discuss what happened, and ask how she intends to proceed? He would get a feel from Other Woman based on their conversation, if she is going to be horrible to the wife, or in fact, tell her.

Depending on what he learns from this conversation, he could then decide whether to tell his wife.

Carolyn Hax: This is the dissent, and here's my dissenting opinion on the dissent: Going to the other woman would further undermine the wife. What's happening is already unfair, and it's unfairness elevated to outrage for the two people who hurt her in the first place to then meet to discuss her fate, while she continues on as the ignorant party.

He can't empower the other woman any more than he already has.

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Difficult Mother - D.C.: Carolyn -

How do you deal with your mother, whom you and the rest of your family is convinced has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), when you can't even discuss your concerns with her? The inherent problem is that the OCPD person doesn't see anything wrong with their behavior and thinks everyone else has a problem or is wrong? This is really taking a toll on the family relationships.

Carolyn Hax: When the person with a possible/probable/likely disorder refuses to admit or deal with the p/p/l disorder, your only choice is to learn about the disorder yourself so you can establish realistic expectations of that person's behavior. Once you teach yourself to stop expecting this person to behave in a healthy way, and instead anticipate disordered behavior, you can often drastically reduce the amount of conflict involved in dealing with her. You not only trigger less disordered behavior, because you can anticipate what those triggers are, but also roll with it better, since you're expecting it.

Not a perfect solution, but it can be remarkably effective.

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Chum: That's the first time in years of reading this chat that I've said "Wow, you're so screwed" aloud. I wish I could be more eloquent, but that's all I got.

Carolyn Hax: You and everyone else.

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Austin, Texas: Re: "Chum"

A conversation with the HR director at the wife's company could be in order. The company will want to protect itself from potential liability if the ex-girlfriend abuses her supervisory position. This won't eliminate the need to be honest with the wife, but will at least relieve her of the burden of approaching HR or her new supervisor herself.

Carolyn Hax: Interesting. Anyone else?

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Re: Cheating and Work: My father had a long affair with a woman and my mom found a picture of them together stashed away. It did not end their marriage but it took a long time for my mom to regain her trust. It wasn't work related for my mom but they were 'business trips' my dad took. I think it would have been easier for my dad to tell her than for her to feel the shock of finding out for herself. I think he should tell her and face whatever repercussions and mistrust that may occur. If they really love one another then she will forgive him in her own time; at the same time she will be worried about her job and her love life which is going to happen anyway if this woman hates his wife.

Carolyn Hax: There's a lot of room for disagreement in the area of confessing affairs (some people want to know, some people don't, for starters). But if there's any universal truth at all, it's that people who are going to find out would rather find out from their spouses directly. Finding out any other way (discovery, rumor, friendly intervention, etc.) only adds insult to injury.

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Deeeeetroit: My partner is borderline depressed and it's pissing me off.

I hear all the time about how he's not going anywhere in life, and then when I say, "Well, pick something, let's do it!" he has all sorts of excuses or just says he can't think of anything he wants to do. I say "go get career counseling" and he says no. I say "go back on anti-depressants, go back to thereapy" and he says no.

He's always putting himself down and frankly I am tired of trying to say nice things about him (all of which I mean, of course I do, I married him!) and then hearing them smacked down. it sucks.

I'm considering an ultimatium but I think he'll just hear it as 'you are broken" which I don't mean. And I wouldn't divorce him, we have two small kids who love their dad.

He has advanced degrees, is super-smart, and people like him. He could do anything, if he weren't so glum. What do you suggest?

Carolyn Hax: It's not glum, it's depressed. It's not "broken," as you know--it's sick. Treatably sick.

So please find a quiet, otherwise low-stress opportunity to say, "You have depression, a medical condition. I am asking you take care of this condition, please, because it is affecting not just you, but your whole family. If you won't take care of yourself, then please let me make an appointment with your therapist/doctor and take you there."

If he won't agree even to that, make an appointment with his doctor/therapist yourself and find out what the best step would be for your family. S/he couldn't comment on his case specifically, but can help you work around the most common obstacle in dealing with someone depressed: the fear that your actions will be directly responsible for the other person's decline.

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Benchmark moment: It's been a long time since reindeer poop or bacon pants, but man, our friend chum might be the next major referent of this chat.

Carolyn Hax: Further brightening his prospects, I'm sure.

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NO on Austin's advice: Good grief! No, no, no, no, no. Chum should NOT, under any circumstances, approach the HR department of his wife's company. Good lord, I can't believe someone would suggest that. Chum's wife needs the ability to take control of this situation for herself, and that's going to come from getting the facts from her husband. His efforts should start and end there - he's done PLENTY so far to undermine her and harm her. Going to HR for her, unless she sanctions it, will only cause further harm. It's...so profoundly inappropriate for him to do that I'm having a hard time articulating why.

But seriously, this is a horrible idea. Horrible.

Carolyn Hax: There you go. Another:

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Re: Chum and HR: I'd kill him if it were me. But I'd dig him up and kill him all over again if he went to my HR director!

Carolyn Hax: Ta da.

By the way, someone pointed out that it is in fact Shark Week. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

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Down South: Hi Carolyn,

What do you do when you realize you're too positive (if that is such a thing)? While I have opinions, I'm a very laid back person. I find that I have difficulty expressing negative opinions or putting my foot down to my boyfriend. I'm pretty sure it stems from a deep-seeded fear that he's going to up and leave me, although he's never shown any tendencies toward that or not being able to handle the inevitable stresses that come with life and relationships. He's a great guy, and I know it's not him - it's me.

Carolyn Hax: If the consequence of not putting your foot down is that you're unhappy with the outcome, and particularly if you're starting to accumulate resentment over chronic unhappy outcomes, then you're not "too positive." You're just "too chicken."

In that case, your next step is to start the long process of locating both your convictions and the courage to express them. Since you'd be starting this process from within a relationship, your best start might be in talking to your BF. "I have difficulty expressing negative opinions or putting my foot down. Sometimes I agree to things I don't want to do, just to avoid conflict. [Clear but non-accusatory example here, such as, "Remember when you suggested we see X and Y for dinner? Well, I really didn't want to be social that night and I agreed only to agree. I didn't have fun and I was only sucking it up."]

And then: "I realize this is not fair to you, and it's not fair to me, either. But it's going to take me a while to break this habit, so I apologize in advance for any weirdness, and I hope you'll feel free to speak up when you're not sure what I;m thinking or feeling."

Then, ideally both of you, but definitely you, will start to feel out your real opinions from situation to situation. When you think of them in time, you express them. When you think about them after the fact, you express them after the fact--a much less angsty proposition if you've prepared him for some mind-changing and indecision as you work through this.

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Virginia: Last night my husband and I went over for dinner at a couple's home whose company we really enjoy. Unfortunately, due to everyone's schedule we only see them once every one or two months. Every time we have dinner at there place they also invite other people over. Last night, they had another couple over who see them much more often than us, so of course there are the inside jokes, and other stuff. We kind of feel left out at times. How can I ask them not to invite anyone else over when we are there? Or is just making that request rude?

Carolyn Hax: Rude, a little, but needy, a lot. I really do get how annoying it is to be treated to inside jokes, and they are in fact being rude in excluding you from parts of the conversation. It's just that, if you're going to have these friends, then you have these friends on the terms they're offering. If you don't like those terms, it's not your place to ask them to change. Instead, you change what you do--inviting them over seems like the easiest adjustment. If they insist on having you over on alternate visits, then, by my math, you're dealing with this left-out-ness about three or four times a year total. If that's a price you're willing to pay to enjoy these friends, then make that choice and shrug it off.

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Shark Chum: Am I the only crazy person advocating that this guy wait and see what happens with The Other Woman? She may have forgotten all about him and has no desire to relive the whole affair all over again. Can we at least give HER a chance to see what she'll do?

Geez all this worrying could be over nothing.

Carolyn Hax: No, you're one of two people (I've seen) who has suggested it.

I still don't think it's fair to the wife to set her up like that, even if it turns out he's setting her up for nothing. But, here it is, out for public comment.

If you need me, I'll be under my desk.

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Peanut Butter: Just FYI: The Washington Post "learn more about" section with the rings at the bottom now features "peanut butter" as one of the five options (others are NY, Washington, Carolyn Hax, and job hunting). I think you should live up to this promise and have more peanut butter-related questions and advice in the chat.

Carolyn Hax: Shouldn't it be Boston, New York, Carolyn Hax, peanut butter, and chum?

Or did Boston lose so badly to New York last night that it and chum were all rolled into "job hunting."

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Chantilly, Va., Prostitute: I just got laid off this morning. I have some savings, but not enough to cover an extended period without employment. My SO and I have been together for six years and have a four-year-old son and live together as a family. I don't know how much he has in savings, and I loathe the idea of him paying my way if I don't get a job quickly. He demands sex, nearly every day, and I know he would expect me to have sex with him, on demand, if he has to pay my expenses. The thought of being treated like a prostitute makes me want to vomit.

Carolyn Hax: Oh my. Please get some help, of the comprehensive variety--emotional, legal and financial to start. The Women's Center is one place that offers such services somewhat in your area (703-281-2657), and if you can't get what you need there, please email me at tellme@washpost.com for more ideas.

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Printosaurus, USA: Given the theme of indecisiveness in today's chat, wanted to ask if you have any words of advice for a young (print) journalist feeling confused and scared about her job prospects, given the state of the industry. I have flexibility, as I'm a freelancer who dedicates about 95 percent of my work to one local, respected publication. However, after being in this job for three years with no traditional mobility in sight, I don't know whether to get out of journalism in general or stick with it and hope the industry sorts itself out. What do you think?

washingtonpost.com: Perhaps buy a basic HTML book and learn more about the Web. I did as a supplement to my journo background, and I love it. - Jodi

Carolyn Hax: A skill never hurts a talent. Thanks, Jodi.

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Re: Down south: Speaking as the spouse of someone who is reluctant to offer opinions, I WANT to hear her opinions even if they're dissenting. Lots of reasons for that: one is that I'm genuinely interested in her opinions, 2. I want her to share accountability for our decisions, 3. Sometimes I'm only making a suggestion and don't actually feel strongly about it myself, 4. A perpetual "ok, if that's what you want" answer to every question or suggestion is demoralizing. So don't be afraid to disagree.

Carolyn Hax: Grand slam, thanks.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Am I a freak for not being married or not wanting to be married? I'm on the slightly shady side of my 40s, good salary, saving for a house, and overall comfortable in my skin and comfortable with just little old me in the house. But apparently, singleness at my age is really much closer to being in hell than I ever heard about in Sunday school. I am not going to try to convince everyone that I am saccharine-ly happy (even I wouldn't believe that one), but I am satisfied with my life.

But of course, such an attitude has nearly horrified my married friends. No, I am not using the excuse of (some of) their lousy marriages to say single, I just like being where I am, but hardly any of them will believe me when I say that. How can I convince them of that?

Carolyn Hax: If you're trying to "convince them of that," then that's probably why they aren't convinced. People with something to sell are so often the ones with something to hide.

People are their own, unspoken advertisements for themselves. When that advertising doesn't persuade its audience, there are really only two reasons: the sales pitch is inaccurate, trying to sell something that isn't true; or the audience has its mind made up about the product and isn't paying attention.

Continuing to argue your case doesn't help with either one.

So just keep living on your terms. If your friends remain vocally skeptical and it really gets to you, it wouldn't hurt to do a quick self-check to see if they aren't picking up on something you can't see yourself. If you pass that test just fine, then feel free to tell them explicitly that you are tired of being asked to defend your choices.

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Capitol Hill: I've been dating my boyfriend for 10 years. We are in our 30s. I've never pressured him before regarding marriage because I thought I didn't have to; that he would propose when he felt he was ready. Well 10 years have passed so I bought up the discussion as he wants to start looking at houses and talks about a having a child (which I don't have all day to wait on him for). He tells me he wants me "hang in there" a little while longer until he gets some things together ($$, visitation rights for his child, etc.) but can't give a timetable or a plan of when that will be! Now I'm ticked off because I feel I deserve a better explanation than that as I have waited long enough. Now I don't want to deal with him physically or emotionally anymore because I'm drainied and really want to call it quits.

Carolyn Hax: Then call it quits. What can I tell you.

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Maryland: Wanted to run this by you. My girlfriend and I live together. We're in a condo. She's been talking about wanting a dog, but my contention was and is that with our schedules, getting a dog in a condo is not a good thing. She comes home from work exhausted every night, and this would just add to that. Unspoken, also, is my belief that because of this exhaustion I'd get the brunt of the petcare, and I don't want that.

Now my sister, also in a condo (albeit a larger one) has gotten a puppy. This has spawned a new round of "I wanna puppy" from my girlfriend. My sister is VERY aware of her desire, and my lack of desire. So what does my sister do? Asks my girlfriend if "we" would like to petsit next weekend to give her a chance to play with the puppy for the weekend.

Umm, excuse me? She does this knowing that I do not want a puppy, but that this weekend will just intensify the "I wanna puppy" discussion. So now if I turn down petsitting, I'm the "bad guy" so to speak.

Any advice on how to handle this?

Carolyn Hax: Your sister should have talked to you before springing this idea on your girlfriend--not for your approval, since your girlfriend and your sister are both independent adults, but as a sibling courtesy. You still would have had veto power, which you have now; it just would have given you more time to think.

A few things that might be worth thinking about:

1. The puppy-sitting might not necessarily intensify the "I want a puppy" discussion. Puppies are hard work, and having one around for a weekend could drive that home.

2. You can find out whether the puppy visits are okay with you. As anyone with a dog, esp a puppy, can tell you, a friend or family member who desperately wants to dog-sit for you is the canine Holy Grail. If you and your GF could compromise on being this puppy's vacation home, it might actually resolve the issue.

3. Somewhat if a side item, but what's with your GF's pressing of the puppy issue? You live together, you don't want a dog, subject closed. Sheesh. At least, closed unless and until there is a solid change of circumstances, like she starts working at home, you get a place with a yard, you change your mind, or you hit on some compromise like pet-sitting for your sister (assuming you do see that as a compromise).

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Washington, D.C.: I found recently that my husband was cheating on me. He denies it even though I have the e-mails between him and the other woman discussing their liaisons. How can I get him to admit it? What if he never admits it?

Carolyn Hax: Decide what you want the outcome to be--you forgive, you leave, ... ?--and you figure out whether you even need the truth to have that outcome.

That's a tough break. I'm sorry.

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Carolyn Hax: And that's it for Shark Week. Thanks all, have a great weekend and type to you next week.

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Grand slam answer, my rear end!!!!: In my marriage, I'm the one who doesn't argue. In all honesty, I think life's too short to argue and debate every little thing, and most things really aren't worth it. But the one time I did argue and debate and give my honest opinions about something, he's still angry at me to this day. I'll never do it again.

Carolyn Hax: Yikes. We're not talking about arguing here, we're talking about expressing opinions and/or preferences. If the only reason you don't argue is that you don't express any opinions, then that doesn't sound like much of an improvement over fighting.

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Doesn't want a dog: Why is your belief that you'll bear the brunt of dog care "unspoken"?

Carolyn Hax: Good question. Thanks.

But now I'm really leaving.

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Carolyn Hax: "... wish it was Sunday,

Cause that's my Chum-day ..."

Name that toon, running through my head as I sift through the frenzy of your posts ...

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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.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

Got more to say? Check out Carolyn's discussion group, Hax-Philes. Comments submitted to the chat may be used in the discussion group.

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