Carolyn is on vacation. The following are excerpts from summer 2004 live discussions on www.washingtonpost.com.
My husband is Jewish. I'm not religious. I'm already dreading the holidays this year because my husband refuses to even acknowledge Christmas but expects me to celebrate Hanukah with him. I would have no problem celebrating both, but he won't even wish me a Merry Christmas. This has gone on for four years now -- I thought I'd be okay with it, but every year it bothers me even more. What can I do? This year I'm thinking of completely ignoring Hanukah and completely covering our house with Christmas decorations, but that seems petty.
Probably because it's petty.
But it does show you're too angry to keep up the holiday routine without saying anything, so say something. Now, nicely, before December rolls around and your hostility hits its annual peak.
Before you get going, though, I think you need to consider that he might see his religious observations as trumping your nonreligious ones -- i.e., he might find it insulting that you want him to celebrate the holiday of a faith that even you don't believe in. Just a guess.
If that's the case, though, you might want to be prepared to make an argument for Christmas as something that is important to you culturally. Which is a reasonable argument to make if that's the way you feel.
By saying this, though, I run the risk of implying that this is a religious question. It's not, it's a marital-accommodation question. Any description of a marriage that starts with "s/he refuses . . . ," followed by something the other spouse deems important, is frankly not promising. Please do talk this one out.
Do you think it's possible to start a relationship long-distance, as in 3,000 miles long-distance? We met about a month ago, and have been keeping in touch via e-mail. There's something there, but I'm not really sure if it's practical.
If I say it isn't possible, 50 people will write in to say they did it.
It isn't practical, you're right. Also not easy, though it is easy to fall for the e-mails of someone it turns out you can't stand in person. Words and a whole being are two different things. I have yet to run across the e-mail, for example, that has chronic halitosis. Just something to keep you thinking realistically.
So all you can do is expect little (or nothing) and then see what happens. And don't sacrifice your social life locally in the meantime.
So I'm incredibly smitten with a girl. We dated for a couple of months in college. She ended it because we met the first day of her freshman year and she had a serious high school boyfriend, needed time to explore and enjoy college, etc. We stayed friends.
So five years later (with intermittent contacts in between), we've started hanging out again semi-regularly, in a platonic fashion.
Now I can't decide whether to risk a great friendship (no, I won't lose it, but the awkwardness would be palpable) for a chance at more.
I don't expect you to make the decision for me, but any advice or soothing words?
Awkwardness passes, regret doesn't. Cheers.
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