Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, March 2)

Mar 02, 2012

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.

Carolyn was online Friday, March 2 at noon ET, 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.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

Got any of Carolyn's answers or readers' questions from the past year stuck in your head? Submit them for next week's Best of Hax 2011 chat that will take place while Carolyn is on vacation.

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

Carolyn's Recent Columns

Past Carolyn Hax Discussions

Way Past Carolyn Hax Live Discussions

Hi everybody. Early notice, I've got a conflict March 16 so I am going to be chatting live at noon on Thursday that week. (I also will be off Friday the 30th, but that's early early.)

As always, please consider subscribing to my Facebook feed (here). I post my column here every morning, chats every week (even before they start, when I remember to), new Hax-Philes questions, and also things I've seen or read that I think you might find interesting. I'm also going to start posting more of Nick's cartoons, since he's digging into his archives for daily posts.

@carolynhax and @ngalifianakis on Twitter are also pathways to our stuff.

 

 

Carolyn, how would you handle the situation if one of your sons came to you in tears and said "Mommy, I'm a girl inside, I've always felt like a girl, and I need to live as a girl?"

I would give him a hug and say I love him, it's going to be okay, we'll figure this out together. Then I would re-read Hanna Rosin's excellent article on this topic for The Atlantic (here) and then I would search far and wide for the therapist with the best reputation in this field to walk our whole family through it--whatever "it" turns out to be.

What I hope I would never do is minimize or dismiss my son's distress, or try to force him into a category--any category--that I choose for him. 

My wife and I have been together 38 years and we are, once again, going through a tough time. We have been seeing a marriage counselor and she is very good, we both respect and value the counselor's opinions and advice. But, we don't seem to be getting anywhere. I feel as though my wife wants to control and smother me, and my wife wants more time from me than I can give her at this moment. Things are complicated by the fact that my wife just retired and I probably never will, I love my work. Also I am heavily involved in the social change movement, OCCUPY, and my wife just seems to want to do nothing but go to the gym. How do we get things to work when we have different plans for the way we spend our time?

If indeed you have no intention of retiring, or of involving yourself less in the movement--that's how it sounds--then have you been clear with her about that? 

While the advice and opinions of a good counselor can be life-changing and marriage-saving, they can only be so to the extent you want to change and want to save. There is always a point beyond which you won't go to save the marriage--and if you're not sure where it is, all you have to do is ask yourself whether you'd rather get divorced than do X.

And, so, if you've got a firm idea of where that point is, then I would argue it's useful to say where you've reached that point. Not in as inflammatory a way as I've said it here, necessarily (no "I'd rather divorce you than retire to hang out with you"), but instead as a neutral statement of your needs: "I hear, Wife, that you want me to retire so we can spend more time together, am I representing that fairly?" and, if she says yes: "After giving it a lot of thought, I realize I'm not willing to retire;  my job gives me a sense of pleasure and purpose that I'm not willing to give up." 

I generally try not to get involved where there's a therapist on the scene; I'm only doing it here because--again--it sounds as if you've hit your limit on compromise, and if that's true you need to say that in therapy.

 

I'd be interested to know how old the son is. When I was 4-5, I was sure I wanted to be a girl. I didn't, and I still don't ~ I AM a crossdresser, and my 5-year-old logic told me: I want to wear a dress. Only girls wear dresses. Therefore, I must want to be a girl.

Thanks for this. Not knowing the age (or other details) is why I left the outcome undefined.

This is extremely delicate business, in that the child's needs have to be paramount--yet no child can be expected to be in complete control of all decisions, because what child is ready for that? Parents have to be in charge -and- leave no fingerprints. Tricky. That's why vetting the therapist is so important; it has to be someone skilled, knowledgeable and pragmatic vs. ideological.

Carolyn. I love your advice so much. You hit the nail on the head with your advice to the mom with the trans* kid. I don't know how old her kiddo is, but I really love Raising My Rainbow (http://raisingmyrainbow.com) and I recommend it all the time to parents whose kids are gender-nonconforming in some way, as well as to educators and cool people who want to know more about this stuff. I'm an educator/queer activist/surrogate parent/big sister in my small deep south town, and I can assure you that folks with stories like this are just everywhere. I recommend this mom check out her local PFLAG chapter (we have a couple in my chapter with a 5 year old who is saying the same things). Love love love love your kids, folks. I house and feed and educate a lot of kids whose parents haven't loved them. They're my family, and I'm so thankful for them, but I want to see peoples' parents being the awesome adults in their lives, you know? I'll send Carolyn my e-mail address in a separate message. If you need someone to talk to, maybe she can help us get in touch.

Thanks so much for the resources. I'll check out "Raising My Rainbow" as soon as I can.

It's nice that you're adding cool new content to your Facebook page. It sucks that your Facebook ca no longer be accessed by those who don't have a Facebook account. Are you still trying to alter that, or should I just give up asking? If it's not going to change, it's not, and I would rather know that than keep trying to get there and being shut out.

I am still trying, though there has been no progress. I will announce it as soon as something changes, which I hope will free you and others from the check-and-grumble cycle. I think it stinks, too, because I have no good place to put updates. I just put another feeler out on it this week, but I think I need to try another avenue.

Hi Carolyn, Can you point me in the right direction as to how to handle this gracefully? My sister in law frequently brings her boyfriends over to our house for dinner within a couple of weeks of them starting to date. While I find this weird (as do some of the boyfriends) I am now more concerned as I have a two year old daughter. She went so far as to bring a boyfriend of 10 months (no longer in the picture) to the hospital when my daughter was born. Awkward! She is in her mid-30's, so she should know better. We need some boudaries - any thoughts on how we can get there without having an argument? Thanks!

What exactly do you think is wrong with her bringing the boyfriends around your house when you have a 2-year-old? I have my own opinions, but I'd like to hear yours. Thanks.

My wife has a tendency to dominate conversations in a group of people (talking about half the time no matter how many people are in the group, starting to talk again before the other person finishes a sentence, etc.) I love her and don't want to control her, but I'd like to talk occasionally at a party without having to interrupt someone just to share some anecdote. Am I out of line to bring this up with her?

No, but you have to be really careful. If you say, "Cheez, you hijack all the conversations and you need to stop," you're likely to put her on the defensive. If you instead point out that she probably doesn't realize it, but her normally considerate behavior changes when she's in a crowd, and she appears as if she's not listening--maybe because of nerves? then you're showing sympathy for what is actually a common problem. People who aren't 100 percent comfortable socially tend to overcompensate, either by clamming up and hiding in a corner or, like your wife, trying a little too hard.

It's a little like hearing you have bad breath, so reassuring her isn't a bad idea. "I might be the only one who notices, since I know how you usually are." If she's not receptive to this constructive criticism, then you don't have a lot of choices; she can be who she is, even if it's rude. (You will be out of line for sure if you keep bringing it up with her in an attempt to get the result you want.)

Even if she is receptive, it's still going to be a process. Assuming the talking too much was a manifestation of shaky nerves, her nerves are only going to be more shaky knowing she's a faux pas with legs. It's going to take a few outings for her to get used to monitoring herself and steppping back without clamming up or just feeling self-conscious. But, assuming she's mature enough to admit her own frailty and interested enough in maintaining friendships to be conscious of listening more, your gentle intervention can be a gift.

 

 

Carolyn, I have a son that will be just turning 5 at the cutoff for the upcoming school year. I'd like to hold him back a year and my husband is against it. Any thoughts on resources for this topic? The school's principal and his current preschool teacher give us a vague "go with your gut" answer, which isn't helping the discussions with my husband.

I don't know of any resources, since my only experience with this has been similar to yours--schools and parents operate on their impressions and their experience. I'll throw it out to the nutterati, since "August boys" are a pretty hot topic among those who have to care.

If you think it would help: Why are you pro and why is your husband against? 

Sorry, brief delay here--there's a conversation going on among my editors that needs my attention. 

Dear Carolyn, My darling, darling 5-year-old daughter repeated a nasty comment I had made about her grandmother (didn't know Kiddo was in earshot!!!) to the grandmother, my husband's mom. I have already apologized and tried my best to put the remark in context (it was really very mean-spirited and context didn't help very much), but I still feel just terrible. How do I make myself feel better without making it seem like a huge deal, thereby making her feel worse?

You don't. Overworking the issue at this point will only make it worse. Let time and your (hereafter) good behavior heal what can be healed, and make a mental note to watch what you say about the people your daughter loves. Or, I should say, about people, period.

Sometimes I get frustrated by what seems the default solution to everything: therapy. (Not just you, but our current society in general.) This morning I realized that "therapy" is really just code for: changes take time and a different perspective. (I suppose sort of like in AA, where your "higher power" doesn't necessarily have to be God; or losing weight, little changes over time, two steps forward, one step back, carry on.) Anyway, thought I'd share. Love your show.

Thanks.

You have a legitimate beef, but it's also kind of ... what's the word, perplexing to me. I think your impression is a common one, that our society defaults to therapy, but in I'd be surprised if anything close to a majority of people sought therapy for their problems.  

While changes do indeed "take time and a different perspective," a lot of people spin their wheels for years on that second component. Needlessly. As such, even if those who think therapists are quacks or who can't affort individual counseling would actually benefit from a trip to , say, an Al-Anon meeting (to sort-of borrow your parallel) because it would be one way to get a brisk shove out of the mud. 

Some people are able to get out of their muck without that kind of assistance, but others aren't. As a rule, I try to suggest therapy when I see spinning wheels, and I don't bother suggesting it where I see self-motivated progress (though the latter cohort are more likely to seek help: discuss).

But a good therapist can even be valuable in those cases, by serving the basic purpose of listening uninterrupted to the facts of the situation (as you present them) and throwing  things out that you might not have pieced together yourself. More like a strategy meeting than a Jack Handy sketch.


My son was in the same position - he actually started K when he was four and turned five in October. Anyway, in my opinion, if your son is okay with the structure of preschool and is not overly immature compared to others in his class, he will be fine. If you decided to hold him back, keep in mind that you will have to explain why all his other preschool friends are going to K and he is not.

Thanks. That bad-news-to-a-preschooler moment doesn't concern me so much as the kid you have to deal with on the back end of this decision, the one who turns 19 and is still in high school and has wanted to be on his own since he was 17. Gotta think of the whole arc.

Please give him the "gift of a year," as our kindergarten teacher calls it. The gift of maturity, a little extra time under his belt with help him with self-confidence. We have one son who went it at 5 and one that waited a year. Temperament aside, there is a huge difference. Our early starter is the youngest in his class and those months matter at this age. The extra year son's time was filled with learning experiences that have helped him immensely in terms of readiness, confidence and maturity.

Thanks for the seen-it-both-ways view. 

I do want to beat the point, though, that while the months matter now, they're not going to later--and so I would caution anyone facing this decision --for a boy or a girl, on the cutoff seam or nowhere near it--to consider how badly the child needs that "gift of a year," and why, and what's likely to come of giving it vs not giving it. 

Full disclosure, I was a kid who was past the cutoff but was sent to school early. I did struggle in my early years, needed speech therapy and work with a learning specialist, etc (all provided by my local public school)--but by the time I was in, idunno, 3rd grade ? I was getting As all the way and never looked back.

Whether I was too young for college at 17 is one I can debate either way. I was immature, but I was still immature at 20. One of my roommates was two months younger than I, and she handled it fine. 

Another disclosure, I've witnessed a much older kid wreak social havoc on younger classmates who just weren't at the same level of emotional development. That "gift of a year" backfired for all involved. 

This is all to say, it's kid-by-kid, and it's a 13-year decision, not a kindergarten one.  

 

With a little research, you should be able to find some guidelines for developmental milestones that your son should have hit to show that he's ready (or not ready) for kindergarten - things like paying attention for a certain period of time, can share, can follow the types of directions he'd get in kindergarten, ability to function without a nap, etc. Compare his abilities to those milestones. You might also want to visit a kindergarten class to see the types of activities the children do, and compare them to your child's abilities.

And, adding to this very good idea, parents would also do well to talk to parents of slightly older children. And, for the truly research-dedicated, to high-school level educators to see what they have to say about the older seniors.  Thanks.  

I've got a comment outpouring re the start early/hold back issue, which I realize is interesting only to a narrow audience, so I'm going to post a pile of them and run. Please bear with me ...

The kid can skip a grade later on, surely, if he's ready for it. If.

Tx. and:

Lise Eliot discussed this in one of her books. I think it was Pink Brain, Blue Brain, but it may also be in What's Going On In There.

And:

Please hold him back-- one of the smartest kids in my sister's class was an August birthday and started school when he was 5. He excelled academically for the first 3 years, but had to be held back in 3rd grade because he just wasn't emotionally ready. This kid was scoring in the 99th percentile and it crushed him because he felt stupid for having to repeat the class. The opinions of several school specialists I work with are the same-- an extra year in preschool learning how to be nice and share is way more valuable than an extra year in the workforce. Plus, it is more fun being the first of your friends to drive than the last.

And:

For what it is worth...my brother and I both have late summer birthdays and our parents did not hold us back. This made us each the youngest in our class. My mother discovered that it was much harder for my brother to be the youngest than it was for me (a female). If she had it to do over agin, she probably would have held my brother back.

And:

I have one simple observation -- somebody has to be the youngest in the class. From what I've seen/heard the motivation behind holding a kid back is to avoid being the youngest. But that way of thinking simply sets off a chain reaction w/o any logical endpoint. If there's something specific about your kid that tells you he's not ready, by all means listen to your gut. But if you just don't want him to be the youngest, it's hard for me to see that as a solid reason.

And:

In a word "no!" Again, no!!! This happened to me more than 50 years ago; i was always the youngest/smallest/last-to-develop in the class. My school years were - literally - torture and left me with self-esteem issues that never left. Intellectually, i did/could excel; emotionally/socially/physically, i was *always* a year "off" from the others. The damage endures to this day. This very, literal, day.

And:

You don't give your reasons for the disagreement. Why do you want to hold your son back, and why does your husband not want to?

That's it. Everyone not interested can tab back over now.

I will kick this to Philes, too, after the show. (Levi, any chance you can just post the original question?)

 

Sometimes when someone dominates the conversation in a social setting it is because they are starved for social interaction in other parts of life. Does the wife work with colleagues, or in a more isolated way? Or is she a stay-at-home parent? I suffered from a bit of this myself as I finished my dissertation, working all alone. Whenever I met friends for dinner I talked a little too much and a little too loud, because I was soo excited to have other adults to talk with. Something to consider...and if so perhaps help her get more social contact.

Yes, yes, you're so right. And you're talking about me. Miss Shut In USA.

But enough about me.

Please, talk to her and work up an arm touch or eye wink or something that let's her know to put the brakes on. I blather from nerves, wanting to fill the silence, whatever, and afterwards I realize it and am mortified. I'd love my husband to gently and secretly nudge me or something like that to let me know. (hey, honey, nudge me next time--thanks!)

As long as you really mean it, this is a great system. I qualified it because wanting the nudge is easy, but getting it can be embarrassing--to give, get and witness. Better than dominating a conversation, arguably, but not a magic solution, either.

I could be the chatty wife. I talk a lot and I have a dominant personality. I try very hard to control it but it is part if who I am. I would recommend the husband stop being self conscious about his wife's behavior. It isn't a reflection on him (which I suspect is part of the issue). She is an adult and I promise you she is aware of her behavior. That doesn't mean she can do anything about it.

Another angle, thanks.

Seems like the mom's first response to the kid's remarks should be to just talk to him in a casual, non-judgmental way. "What do you think it would be like to be a girl?," "How do you think girls are different from you?," 'What would you be able to do as a girl that you can't do now?" etc., to clarify his thinking and yours. Rushing off to a shrink right away might make it harder for him to talk to you in the future. You don't want him to feel that he said or did anything wrong.

The shrink is for the parents, initially--I should have made that clear. The kid goes when the parents are educated enough on the topic and comfortable enough with the therapist to start the process with the kid, assuming it's warranted by the child's age and emotional state.

I would also drop the judgment-heavy language. The poster's tone was very much "I have a fulfilling career and work for social change in my spare time, my wife quit her job and just plays at the gym all day" which does not bode well for finding a resolution. If you respect her as your equal partner, then you need to respect her choices.

Or admit that he doesn't, right? The language is judgmental, yes, I agree, but he can't fake respect. he can say he respects her as an equal partner, assuming he does, and respects her right to live her life as she chooses, assuming he does (which, conveniently, works in reverse as a request for her to respect his right to keep pursuing his interests instead of getting subsumed into hers). But if he thinks the ways she uses her time are are shallow and it's affecting the way he feels about her, the elephant isn't just in the room; he's in a recliner watching Animal Planet.

How much privacy should a married couple, of 20+ years, have from each other? Do you believe that a spouse should have private passwords to: computer, email, phone, facebook and private conversations on the phone, etc? This is a very big bone of contention my spouse and I and I would really like your unbiased opinion. thank you

I think the details of passwords, etc, matter less than what you do with them and how trustworthy each of you thinks the other is. Four examples:

1. Happy, trusting couples can have private conversations and passwords they don't share, just because they believe in pivacy and individuality, even if they have nothing to hide.

2. They can also have open-book approaches to everything--hold all of each other's passwords, say--and never ever use them to look in each other's accounts, because that crosses a line. (Unless it's a situation like, "Hey, could you sign on to my email and find me X's address?")

3. A couple can also have private everything, and one or both can insist on it knowing there's a lot to hide.

4. And a couple can share everything because one of them insists on it, and uses the passwords to monitor everything, exhibiting jealousy and control, be it in response to real or perceived transgressions.

So, what do you have--trust (1 or 2) or no trust (3 or 4)? All that matters. 

 

Thanks for responding, Carolyn. Much to ponder...Regardless of issue or problem, the idea of"listening uninterrupted" is appealing. Is this kind of listening only possible in therapy? I'm thinking because of the financial compensation, the listener is sort of automatically rewarded, so less emotional responsibility or interaction compared to say, a friend or sister, and that makes it easier to just listen?

It's not just financial compensation, it's a reward just to do a job well--i.e., to help someone. And how can a therapist help someone without listening fully? (And I include "listening" to nonverbal cues in that.)

The other element of uninterrupted listening is that the therapist is theoretically not invested in any outcome besides the client's good health, where a friend or sister might want you to break up with someone, move somewhere, mend fences with someone, etc, for her own reasons, even if it's not in your best interests.

....you have shared all your passwords but your spouse never remembers them, so you can access all his stuff (but don't, as a matter of course), but he really can't access any of yours.

:D

Carolyn, I am of the spinning-one's-wheels category. I keep thinking this is what I need but am terrified of taking that step. I hate, hate, hate talking about myself and my feelings. The very idea makes my skin crawl. Did I mention my dislike of talking about feelings. How do I do this?

Can you write them down, journal style? Think of it as warming up.

If you can make even a little progress there, then I think you'll be ready to make an appointment to say, "I hate, hate, hate talking about myself and my feelings. The very idea makes my skin crawl. " This will be nothing new to a veteran therapist, and it will provide instant framework for your conversation from there. Good luck.

Please add that there should be a way for the passwords to be available after death. My husband died with his private passwords. It caused no end of trouble. Many of these were his small business passwords and the flak I caught as a result is still a sore spot.

Yes, this is huge, and I'm sorry you found out the way you did. People who are worried about writing down something sensitive can develop a code that both partners understand.

And 5. You have passwords to "everything" except the accounts they don't tell you about. You either trust your partner or you don't, and if there's a "bone of contention" then it sounds like one of you doesn't.

Well, 6. But, yes to the rest, thanks.

Your answer has a bias towards private lives. A fifth possibility is more of an open book life - having each other's passwords and not using them all the time, but also having nothing to hide so that its not a big deal if they see each other's e-mails - checking for plane reservations sent to one account, weekend plans sent to the other, etc.. I'd be suspicious if my spouse got private letters, wouldn't tell me who's on the phone, etc. E-mail isn't any different.

Really? To me, what you describe tracks with my No. 2.

How do you manage a live chat without typos?

I proof my answers. I wouldn't bother except I am an unusually prolific typoist.

I actually didn't proof any answers one day, when I chatted from an Acela; the connection was so slow/spotty I knew I had to make up time somewhere. A lot of people commented on what a mess it was. 

Carolyn, my bf helped me out financially last year. He said at the time not to worry about it but I feel like I should pay him back now that I can. He barely makes enough on his own to get by. However, part of me thinks I should keep the amount he told me not to worry about and put it aside to help him in the future or put it towards a mutual expense. I am not sure what to do.

Yikes. Start paying him back. If he refuses, then you can put it aside for his future or for a mutual expense. This is his decision to make, not yours.*

*That is, assuming his actually words were, "Don't worry about it," which is vague enough to warrant your taking the initiative to pay him back anyway. If instead he said, "I see this as a gift and I don't want you to pay it back," then it's actually your decision.

In that case, I still would suggest saying: "You said last year that this was a gift, for which I remain grateful. I do have the money to pay you back, now, and would like to if you'll let me."

 

I agree with the poster who suggested that there's another option with more of an "open book life". Your #2 suggested that both partners have their passwords but never, ever use them except upon request; but the open book life espouses more of an attitude that there's nothing to hide so go ahead and look -- or at least, don't avert your eyes. Ever since a cheating incident in our relationship several years ago, my husband and I rebuilt our relationship on the idea that we keep our lives open, with the understanding we are entitled to open access but not to abuse of it. It helps us both stay accountable to one another; the less we're secretive with one another, the less either of us care to look.

I see your point, thanks. I did mean to convey that if you needed something from the account, you would use the password, but that if you were just bored and felt like browsing, you'd respect the person's privacy and find somethign else to read. But my "never, ever" shut down the middle ground of just, say, being over one's shoulder (non-suspiciously!). thanks again.

 

I dunno. I used to have a lot of trust issues... the fact that my then boyfriend, and now husband trusted me with all of his passwords and him with mine made me feel better. Now, 6 years later I can never remember his and he mine. But it also made me realize he could be trusted.

Thanks. I do think this has to be in the reinforcement category and not a key element to buiding that trust.

I.e., work on your trust issues on your own, and ice the cake with a partner who doesn't shy away from password sharing ... vs. expecting the passwords to do the work of establishing trustworthiness. Am I making sense?

Person with 2-year-old and actively dating SIL, are you there? Many responses to your question but I would like yours first, thanks.

My recently unemployed SO (with whom I don't live) wants to hang out in the evenings more than I do. Work's been hard lately, and I need some me time to recoup. On the other hand, SO is bored and lonely, and I feel cruel declining to spend time together. How can I wrap my head around this so as to not succumb to *witchy lash-outs due to mild caretaker's fatigue?

Figure out what time off you need, and then take it, nicely and firmly. "I need a night to myself, so I'm going to take tonight/tomorrow to sit in my jammies and watch bad TV/read a book/whatever." If you get any resistance, say, "hey, it's not personal, this is who I am--I need me time." Then stick to it. Do the same with evenings with other friends, or to get some shopping done, or do whatever you need. 

In other words, don't wrap your mind around anything. Being good to your SO when s/he needs extra attention means recognizing that you can't give your best to others when it's draining the life out of you.

I'm married to a talented musician and artist. He got laid off 8 months ago from his regular job. He decided that with his severance it was his chance to make a go of the music/art thing. It's been 8 months, he almost has a CD out. He's working on stuff, but spending lots of money, not making any. We are in our early 30's, just married, no kids. He says this is his last chance to try this. I get it, but at the same time, really just want him to get a job like everyone else and keep doing this stuff on the side. Am I selfish? Should I figure out how to support him? We are OK financially.

You're the spouse, it's marital property he's spending, so you do have standing to ask for new terms for this project. But: You're okay financially + he's making progress, so these point to letting him finish his push to get a CD done. If you were to insist he "get a job like everyone else" at this point, that might delay his project and cost you even more in the long run.

That's when I think about it pragmatically. Emotionally, your "get a job like everyone else" approach is the kind of dismissiveness that cools the love between two people, not to mention punches the gut of an artist. Do you really have faith in or respect for his music? You say he's talented, so it sounds as if you do--and so that would need to be part of any conversation you have.

Meanwhile, the financial angle is simple, you're concerned about the money going out and the lack of money coming in.

Combine the three and I wonder if it makes the most sense to encourage him, support his decision to do a full-time push--within limits. Ask to open the conversation, and say that you do want him to keep going with the CD, but that you'll also sleep better if there's an exit strategy, pegged either to a dollar amount invested or a date reached or both. 

If you take time for yourself, make sure you have plans in place with your SO. My husband needs a lot more me time than I do. When were dating, what made it a non-issue was that I'd know when we had plans so him taking some time for himself didn't bother me a bit.

Good point, thanks.

"You told me not to worry about it, and so I didn't, which was an extra gift. But now I'm able to pay you back, and I'd like to start. Thank you for both, from the bottom of my heart."

noyce.

I'm still breathing, just looking for something in the queue ...

Can't find. Giving up. Will post something soon I swear.

To be honest its so weird you haven't changed it. It takes like 30 seconds to change it to a public page. If I worked at the post I'd do it for you today. No tech savy people there or what? Do you want me to just email you instructions? (This is snarkier than I mean it, honestly. It's just like if you were telling people you had to wait til Google changed your gmail password for you, when you have the ability to go in and change it yourself. if you log in to post stuff under that name, you can change your profile access)

The timeline pages are not visible to those who haven't signed in--just a few things, like the cover. My page is as public as it can be, because I went through every setting myself and had someone from The Post's social media staff backstop me. 

I'm kind of mystified about where the problem is with meeting new people via Auntie in nice, safe setting like home with parents there. It's not like an ex who introduces young children to serial potential future step parent. I would think that's a great way, actually, for young children to learn to socialize with adults.

Can't find anything from OP, so I'll let observers weigh in. (Few more coming.)

Your two year old child is not going to wonder if Aunt Matilda is sleeping with another guy already. She will probably think that Aunt Matilda just has a lot of friends.

And:

as someone in my mid-30s who is dating, this struck me as very judgy. Perhaps written by someone who got married younger and didn't get how dating is when you're older? For what it's worth, I think 10 months in your mid-30s is a long time, and long enough to be there for family events. It just seems like this woman disapproves of her sister in law's lifestle and is using this as ammunition. Ever think that she wants her boyfriends to get to know you and your husband because you're important to her? Goodness.

And:

I'm really tired of the sanctimonious attitude of some parents. Like, now that they have kids, their needs/wants/interests trump everyone else. I'm curious to hear her opinions too, but c'mon, what's wrong with a guy she's been dating for nearly a year? Let's all open our minds to relationships that look different from our own. Not all of us will get married or even stay in long-term relationships. That doesn't mean we should be treated as second class.

Thanks all.

Okay, that's it for today. Sorry for the whiteout at the end--tired eyes, a long queue of questions and search terms not hitting the mark.

Anywayzzzzzzz (nails on chalkboard!), thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend and type to you here next week as usual.   

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on washingtonpost.com. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their three boys.

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