Dear Carolyn:

I am a woman in a relationship with a woman. Most of my friends are straight. When my straight friends plan a "girls' night out," should I be: a) the jerk who brings her significant other, even though no one else can/will; b) the jerk who tells her significant other that this is a girls' night out but she doesn't count as a girl; c) the jerk who blows off her friends because they don't get that girls' night out is weird; d) the jerk who makes everyone uncomfortable by asking if they want my girlfriend around, thus pointing out the total weirdness of the girls' night out?

L.W.I see weirdness in the terminology of girls' night out -- at least, now I do, thanks -- but none in the concept. It's for friends to socialize without their romantic partners, since it's the rare partner whose presence doesn't change the friends' dynamic.

And, before anyone starts complaining: That change can be slight, huge, good, bad or neutral. The mere fact of change is what makes it appealing to have some occasional sans-partner patter. (And the sad fact of friends' loathing each other's taste in partners is what often makes it necessary.) If that sounds like a vote for leaving your partner at home, it is (try, "Just the old gang, no dates").

But I'm going to cancel out that vote by also voting for the institution of The Girls: Next time you're out with them on a same-sex-non-date night, put this question to them, just as you posed it for me. It's the kind of discussion they're made for.

Dear Carolyn:

Husband and family didn't get off to a good start when we got married. All is okay now (not great, but everyone seems to get along), but I really do not have fun when my husband is with me when I visit with my family. I enjoy myself a lot more when he's not there because I don't have to worry about someone saying something that he doesn't like and will get him in a sour mood. Is it okay that I visit my family with our two kids alone most of the time? A friend of mine said it's not healthy for me to keep him out of family affairs.

Family and Marriage, Va.

If you're not in a position to ask your husband please to grow up -- meaning, it's not worth touching off an Olympic display of sulking -- then you're choosing the better of your remaining two options. Dragging him with you only to stress everyone out hardly serves the family cause.

There is a fourth option, but you need to be ready for it. Bring him, and don't stress, tiptoe, compensate, cajole or otherwise react to his petulance -- ever, in fact. Throw him in, and let him (finally) swim.

Dear Carolyn:

My wife is really short. People sometimes meet her, then pull me aside to say, "Wow, your wife is really short." How should I respond to that?


"Shhh -- we haven't told her yet."

"I know. I insisted."

"True, but only when she's wearing heels."

"What? I can't hear you, my wife is too short."

And there's always "Thanks!" or a good one I just heard: "How should I respond to that?"

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