The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: Reader advice on wedding menus, prenups and pregnancy


While I’m away, readers give the advice.

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

On the curiously combustible mix of weddings and vegetables:

I am a major meat-eater, but I think if the couple getting married do not feel it is ethical to spend their money on meat, they should not be asked to serve it. One meatless meal is not going to kill anyone. My niece was not only a vegetarian but a vegan. Before her wedding, my brothers and I joked that we might be running out for a burger after the reception, but actually the food was delicious.

The couple’s parents may think it is rude for the couple to impose their dietary restrictions on others. Well, I think it’s rude for the parents to impose theirs on the bride and groom. If the dietary restrictions were for a religious reason, I don’t think anyone would be trying to tell the couple what should be served. — Accepting Carnivore

On prenups:

I did not have one in my first marriage; in retrospect, I wish I had — not because I would have emerged with more of our resources when we divorced, but because it would have greatly reduced the combat into which I was forced, and its cost, when my former wife left, rejected mediation and employed a take-no-prisoners attorney. I had to hire an expensive attorney to obtain the settlement terms that two reasonable people would have reached, or would have been reached in mediation, and both of us were the poorer as a result — a foolish and unnecessary outcome.

I believe two honest, caring people can go into marriage with the best of intentions, having done loving, due diligence to determine if either is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — and still have one become somebody very different, for any of a number of possible reasons: social pressures, health or psychological problems, career problems, parenting problems, latent insecurity brought out by unequal success, etc.

All people change over time; life never stands still for anyone. A prenup, if fairly drawn in good faith by both partners, can protect the one who remains reasonable.

I think it would be far healthier if executing a prenup became an accepted part of a mature couple’s preparation for marriage. It would help catalyze a thorough conversation about finances that every couple should have before marriage, but that too often gets consigned to abbreviated treatment amid the euphoria and wedding preparations. — Learned

On being happily married and unhappily pregnant:

These days we seem to work from the assumption that just the thought of a baby is an unmitigated joy to its parents; maybe we ought to get some perspective by recalling when family planning was not so common. I remember Mom telling me about a late-stage miscarriage she’d had: “I was of course dismayed to think I was pregnant again, but after a few months I started thinking about how nice it would be to have a baby in the house again.” Note: “of course dismayed.”

The whole point of birth control is that this blessing we have, our fertility, is not always convenient or 100 percent welcome. If the only possible reaction to a pregnancy from a happily married woman could be joy, there would be no happily married women on the pill. — L.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Subscribe at



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