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Advice from Slate's 'Dear Prudence'

Emily Yoffe
Monday, February 7, 2011; 1:00 PM

Live discussion with Slate advice columnist Dear Prudence, a.k.a. Emily Yoffe.

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Emily Yoffe: I look forward to your questions.

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Pet Grief: Six weeks ago, I had to euthanize my cat that had been with me for most of my life (I got him when I was 9). This death was very traumatic for me, and I continue to have flashbacks and feelings of guilt at what I had to do. While my husband loved my cat too, he is no longer willing to support my grief. He has even gone so far as to call me a "baby" for still crying about this death, and wants me to "get over it". All of my other close friends have not even asked about his death, and my parents have even stopped asking how I'm doing. Is it time for me to "get over it", or is there a way to get my husband to help me through this difficult time more easily?

Emily Yoffe: And please don't add me to the list of insensitive people, but there are a lot of abandone kittens in the world who need devoted owners.

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Unemployed Father-in-Law: Dear Prudence, Yesterday my husband asked me if we could invite his 59 year old father to live with us. I have a lot of problems with this -- we live in a two bedroom, one full bathroom house (we have a small basement we could put him in) across the country from him; we have two small children; but above all, when my husband is around his father he completely shuts down. His father is a nice enough guy, but he is a know-it-all and very critical of everyone else (including my husband). He has been unemployed since just after we got married six years ago. His unemployment benefits run out very soon. He has no formal education and part of his problem is where he lives (Northern Indiana) but his attitude does not help at all. The jobs he has had have often ended when he told the bosses how to do their jobs. We have tried to help him when he has looked into attending community college or starting his own small business but every venture ends with him refusing to go further when something goes wrong or someone does something he doesn't like. I don't want to see my father-in-law unemployed and homeless, but I also do not want to invite the kind of emotional disruption I know he will bring with him into my house. Am I being completely heartless?

Emily Yoffe: I don't have a good answer for what to do about your father-in-law, but once you bring him into your home, it's going to be almost impossible to get him out. Tell your husband there has to be some other way other than interacting with a hyper- critical person at every meal, and every time he has to go to the bathroom.

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My first marriage and fiance's third...wedding etiquette?: Hi emilyMy fiance is getting married for the third time and this is my first. Ever since we got engaged we've been quarrelling over our wedding. He's been teased by his family, friends, and coworkers about getting married "again" and is far too embarrassed to have a decent wedding. I've always dreamed of an intimate affair at church with a white dress and my close family and friends present. He won't hear any of this and says he has to get married in a court house with only our parents present, preferably wearing jeans. I'm heartbroken to think I can't have a proper wedding just because he's already done it twice before. Who's in the right here?From a devoted column reader

Emily Yoffe: No one is "right" here -- what's right is you two figuring out how you accomodate each other.

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Shattered Dreams: Hi Prudie - I love your writing and now I come to you for advice. There is this girl I have been interested in. I'm sure we will get along great when we finally get together. Anyway, I keep track of her through facebook, and recently she changed some settings that allowed me to see a bunch of her pictures. Needless to say, I was shocked. From what I can tell, she has had THREE boyfriends in the past two years. She also has lots of pictures of her in somewhat compromising positions with other girls, and also lots of pictures with alcohol.I was expecting her to be a nice clean girl, but obviously now I feel I have to let her go. Is this a normal occurrence in the young adult dating world? Or should I continue to keep trying to find the right one. Thanks!

Emily Yoffe: Nonetheless, it's clear that your style and this girl's don't mesh. So when using Facebook as a filter, look for someone who understands the wisdom of being more circumspect.

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Texting husband: Dear Prudence, recently we had a couple over for dinner, some friends we are just getting to know. There was a football game on my husband wanted to watch, so we all sat in the living room for what I though would be my husband glancing at the game on a silent TV and also participating in the conversation. What happened was he turned up the sound loud and texted his football buddies while I tried to hold up the conversation until the game ended. I was mortified and angry but hid my feelings, until the guests left. I told him I felt he was rude to our guests and had abandoned me to do the hostessing all by myself. I'm not sure he got it- and frankly I'm leery of inviting people over if he doesn't understand why I was angry. Your thoughts-Worried in NJ

Emily Yoffe: If your husband is otherwise a normal person, tell him why you're pissed, but that you're going to give him a pass -- and that you will consult the NFL schedule in the future before making fall or winter dinner plans.

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Trying to be fair: I recently found out that I am expecting my first child. Everyone around me is so estatic over the news, however, I am not. This child is the result of a forced sexual encounter. Whereas I believe that abortion should be a choice, it's not one that I can personally take on my conscience. So I've been considering adoption. Everytime I mention it, my entire family yells at and lectures me. How can I show them that this is the best option for the baby? Cause one, I'm young, I'm a full time student in college, I work a part time job, so I wont have the time or the means to give the child the life that it would deserve. Also I don't believe that I am mentally (I have bipolar and borderline personality disorder, I have a lot of problems with suicidal ideation and self injury) ready for the child. So I'm TRYING to do what would be best for my infant, and I don't believe that being with ME is the best choice. So how can I get the rest of my family to see and accept this?

Emily Yoffe: Then ask your gynecologist to refer you to some adoption agencies so you can begin the discussion of how you do what's best for you and your child.

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In-laws don't love my daughter, their step granddaughter: I became a single mom to a toddler when my first husband died in a car accident many years ago. My daughter is now 10, and I have since met and married a wonderful man and we have a son together. Although my in-laws live a reasonable distance away we always get together for major holidays and birthdays. My younger son loves these gatherings as my in-laws dote on him. My daughter, on the other hand, is merely tolerated. Last Christmas, they saved their measly retirement income to buy my son an XBox while my daughter received a cheap plastic cutlerly set. When we arrive my in-laws shower my son with kisses and complete adoration, after which they quickly nod in the direction of my daughter. After my husband spoke to them about the obvious favoritism they did make an awkward attempt to give my daughter some more attention. Then they said they couldn't help loving their grandson more than their step granddaughter, and argued that I should accept this because I love my parents more than I love my in-laws. Is it unreasonable that I expect my in-laws to love both my children equally?

Emily Yoffe: You are in a horrible situation because you don't want to punish your son by not letting him be showered in the love of his grandparents. But your husband needs to have another talk in which he makes clear that unfortunately, unless they start addressing this inequality -- and he understands it will be awkward at firstand take time -- all of you are going to have to start limiting visits because he won't stand for seeing his daughter treated with such unfairness.

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To Shattered Dreams: Some "nice clean boy" who's Facebook-stalking a girl and then judging her for the pictures she posts because they don't live up to HIS standards. Newsflash, fella: Your "dreams" were only shattered because your lady love doesn't exist. She was a fantasy you made up based on your impressions and expectations of a near-stranger.

Emily Yoffe: Good slap-down. people should be aware that employers, co-workers, graduate school admissions officers can also have access to one's Facebook page. If it portrays someone who likes to tell the world of her drunken sexual adventures, it might have consequences beyond scaring off a jerk.

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Baby alcoholic?: Dear Prudence,My girlfriend and I of over two years are sophomores in college, at different schools but in the same city. Last weekend we went to a typical college party, full of booze and strangers. She drank a fair amount before and during the event itself, as usual. Afterwards, on the way to my apartment, it was like a switch flipped in her head. When I got to my door and realized I had left my keys at her dorm room, she unloaded on me, laying out a string of obscenities, violently attacking me, and saying the most hurtful things I could've imagined. On the way to get my keys, she tried running into a busy main road twice as cars whizzed by, apparently suicidal. I luckily grabbed her in time. She proceeded to collapse in the hallway before we got to her room. The next morning I had to piece together the night's events for her, as she could hardly remember any of it. She insists that it was a "one time incident," but there had been glimpses of this problem before when she drinks. She refuses to alter her drinking behavior in any way, saying that it's part of the "college experience." We're not even of legal drinking age... if she was in trouble somewhere, the police or paramedics would not get called. I'm terrified of what could happen when I'm not around, but it doesn't phase her. Can I be with someone who doesn't seem to care about herself?-Can't even buy a beer yet

Emily Yoffe: If she keeps this up, she is heading toward ending up raped, arrested, or dead before she graduates. Let's hope they will intervene and make sure she gets help.

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Family Vacations: Hi Prudie! My husband and I have a dilemma I hope you can help us with. We have 3 children - 2 sons (10 and 12), and a daughter (14). In the past few years, my husband and I have discovered the joys of hiking and camping. So far we do this as day-hikes, or maybe 1 night for camping. My sons really enjoy these activites but my daughter despises them! Now, I want to start going a little further and spending more time camping and hiking, maybe 3-5 days out of town. It would be an affordable vacation for us and a great opportunity to see the natural beauty of this great country. My daughter refuses to go; my husband thinks we should just stay at home instead since she will not join us, or if we force her, she would be miserable. I understand that camping is not everyone's cup of tea! But I also don't belive that my sons should miss out on the experience just because their sister is more mall-minded! If we could afford it, we'd do small camping trips and also stay in hotels in cities, but these days that is not an option and camping offers an affordable way to get out of town. What are your thoughts? Should we leave her behind (we have family who'd be delighted to have her stay with them) and take a family vacation without all of the family? Or miss out on the experience and opt for a stay-cation? Thank you for your insight!Camp Momma

Emily Yoffe: don't completely cut her loose.

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RE: Drunk Girlfriend: While the escalation of her drinking should definitely be addressed, please don't rule out that she could have been drugged. I was in a similar situation (while of drinking age) and my then medical student friends noticed that I was acting out of my drinking "norm" and took me to the hospital where it was confirmed. I never leave my drinks unattended and am wary of house parties now.

Emily Yoffe: If only this crime was easier to prosecute.

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death jammies: My grandmother recently passed away and I was fortunate enough be there when she passed. While I was back at my parents for the memorial service I took on going through some of her things. Since she had already distributed much of her belongs to family there were mostly clothes to sort through and get ready to donate. I kept a couple of sweaters she wanted me to have and I also saved out the pajamas she was wearing when she died. They aren't anything special, but the sweet hospice nurse had put them on her because they matched her eyes and I touched by the nurse's thoughtfulness and the very compassionate care she was given. When I showed my husband he asked in his ever practical way what I was planning on doing with them, I hadn't really thought about it. I think they would fit me (they have been washed), but wearing them strikes me as odd. I don't want to donate them because of the sentimental value, but I also don't want to be that crazy lady who is holding on to her dead grandmother's pjs for no apparent reason. What should I do with them?

Emily Yoffe: I think remembering your beloved grandmother when you put on her pajamas is the opposite of crazy.

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To Camp Mama:: My parents forced me on multi-night camping trips. It was ok, til puberty. But let me tell you... having your period in the middle of the woods while sleeping on cold hard ground with your parents and little brothers all nagging you to pick up the pace... It was nightmarish. I also put my foot down around that age, and I don't blame your daughter one bit.

Emily Yoffe: Camping parents, understand this point of view. That doesn't mean no camping at all for the rest of you, but it does mean being sensitive to your daughter's preferences.

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Wife's Penny Pinching: I think my wife has gone off the deep end. All of a sudden, we're required to cut expenses to the bone. Both of us have high-paying jobs that are as secure as possible. She recently sold all of my sports equipment (golf clubs, tennis racquet, even my running shoes) on eBay without even telling me. She says that every spare dollar we have needs to go into our two kids college funds. I probably spent less than $1,000 per year on golf, golfing at municipal courses only. Tennis is practically free, as I play on public courts and only need to buy tennis balls. My only expense for running was the shoes. She's even told me I am forbidden to buy books - only checking out library books is permissable. Dinners out and vacations are gone. Cable TV, internet service are also gone. Bascially, anything and everything I enjoy doing in life, with the exception of spending time with the kids, has been prohibited. She knows how angry I was after she sold all of my sporting equipment, but she won't budge. How do I get through to her?

Emily Yoffe: Anyone experiencing a sudden personality change needs to be evaluated by a medical professional.

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CHI town: So here's the deal hired a new guy @ work. he smokes cigars in his car while commuting. He comes to work smelling disgusting, everyone talks about it behind his back because it is so overpowering and foul, we have a morning meeting every day and Its intolerable to be in the meeting next to him he smels so bad. Q is: Do we say something?and how?

Emily Yoffe:

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Penny Pinching: As a friend of someone who has just gone through something similar, check your finances to be sure that your wife hasn't pocketed/gambled/used illicitly the money.

Emily Yoffe: Good warning -- this could be one reason for the dive off the deep end.

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Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. Talk to you next week.

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