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June 28, 2013

12
P.M.

Corky Sherwood Forest: Carolyn Hax Live: Friday, June 28

Total Responses: 31

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Carolyn Hax

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 New England with her husband and their three boys.

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Carolyn was online Friday, June 28, 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 more to say? Check out Carolyn's forum, home of the Hax-Philes and Hax fans. Comments submitted to the chat may be used in the discussion group.

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Q.

Carolyn Hax :

Hi everybody. I'm going to be on vacation next week, so the next chat will be Friday the 12th. 

Q.

Baby gut check

Our almost three-month-old baby doesn't sleep well. She is up at least five times a night and she can't yet soothe herself back to sleep. I'm really struggling with how to handle the overnight. I'm on maternity leave and my husband works. My mom is here a lot during the day to help with our older kids. I have been doing all of the overnight with baby girl by myself, and I'm having a very tough time with the lack of sleep. I have told my husband this and asked him to help overnight. His view is that he needs to sleep overnight since he is working, and that I can nap during the day when my mom is here. I definitely see where he is coming from. But, the lack of longer stretches of sleep still is wearing on me big time, even with daytime naps. I'm finding myself getting angry and resentful. Am I being unreasonable here? Is he? My sense of what's fair is all out of whack on this one. Thank you, Carolyn!

A.
Carolyn Hax :

A baby who won't sleep is one of the quickest paths to madness. I'm sorry.

One thing you can try with your husband is to have him cover an 8pm to midnight shift with the baby. That still gives him most of a good night's sleep, and also gives you an insufficient but still useful block of sleep. 

As for the resentment, I feel very strongly that when one parent is home with kids and one works for pay, both are technically working. That said, your work is more flexible than his, given that you have daytime coverage, and so he's right that his need for sleep has a measure of priority over yours.

That said2, you are no good to anyone if you repeatedly get awakened 5-plus times a night, and a healthy adult can still feel more or less rested with one wakeup per night, so if the 8-to-12 plan isn't feasible for some reason, then I think it's completely fair for your husband to tend to the baby once per night.

Finally, three months is, if memory serves, prime time for starting some kind of sleep training. Since this topic seems to get people's defenses up, I'm just going to urge you to talk to you your pediatrician about either establishing a more effective routine and/or figuring out if there's a medical explanation for the baby's poor sleep. (Been there; it's a journey, to put it gently, but there are things you can do and generally they pay off in time.) good luck.

 

 

– June 28, 2013 12:10 PM
Q.

four years later

Good morning, I have been "dating" a man who has yet to finalize his divorce and our "relationship" after four years. Of course, things have changed because of the prolonged holding pattern and lack of commitment to me. Now he tells me he isn't sure he really loves me and needs time and space. I feel like I have been kicked in the gut. After waiting and biding my time because of my love for him and putting up with a lot, he now doesn't know if he loves me? What else is going on here that i do not see? thank you for your response.

A.
Carolyn Hax :

It's in your question, but I can say whether you saw it or not: "and putting up with a lot." People who love you won't just heap burdens on you with nothing more than a vague promise that some better point will be reached at some unspecified time in the future. People with good hearts and good intentions will find ways to take care of you, too, even if it's just to demonstrate how much they value your opinions and feelings. 

It's also possible, of course, that he had the best of intentions and the most genuine of feelings, and those feelings merely changed. That happens, too. 

During this painful time, have a look back to see whether you were in fact the one making all the effort (suggesting the former scenario), or whether it was mutual for a good long time, but recently you've noticed him drifting (suggesting the latter).

Either way, I'm sorry. I also think, either way, it's helpful to dig through this rubble for only so long. Figure out what you can then leave it behind.

– June 28, 2013 12:20 PM
Q.

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

I have a new-ish boyfriend (J) of about six months. I've met J's best friend, D, several times, and D is a nice enough guy whose company I mostly enjoy. Unfortunately, D lies. A lot. To the point where you really don't know whether what he's saying has any truth to it or not. Sometimes the lies are just embellishments of events, but more often he tells big whoppers that make him (in his own mind) look good (ex., saying that he has a federal job that he doesn't, claiming that he bought a motorcycle or house that no one ever sees, etc.) He is an equal opportunity liar, and is as dishonest to his family and closest friends as he is to strangers. J wants to help him somehow, but knows that telling him directly will just make best friend defensive. To complicate things a little more, J and D are in the same profession, and D's lies have impacted them both professionally -- D directly, and J by association. Is there a good way to tell D that we like him just fine the way he is and that he doesn't have to make stuff up with us, in a way that won't make him dig in or get defensive?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

I think you'll get more bang for your meddling buck if you point out to your boyfriend that it's way over his pay grade to "help him somehow," unless J is a mental health professional.

People in D's life need to call him gently on the lies--your "we like you just fine the way you are and so you don't have to make stuff up" is swell--and the ones he trusts the most need just as gently to urge him to get into therapy. The lying is a  threat to J's wellbeing, whereas "telling him directly" is a threat to the D-and-J friendship; i think it's easy to see when they're side-by-side like this that D's interests take priority over the interests of the friendship.

– June 28, 2013 12:29 PM
Q.

Baby on the Way, Husband Not Too Engaged

Carolyn, I love your advice and perspective, and I have been struggling with something. My husband and I are expecting our first child in the fall, and I'm struggling with the feeling that he is kind of ambivalent about it. He was never really a kid-oriented person, but was open to us trying (I'm in my early thirties, have always wanted kids, and felt that it was a good time). He's also a kind, dutiful person who will most likely be an amazing father. Now that it's happening, I can see him trying to pump himself up about the idea, but the ambivalence is still there. He hasn't done much to educate himself on pregnancy/baby care, and has occasionally put me in situations that feel uncomfortable (trips without good sleeping arrangements, etc). The added complication is that my job (I worked for a very small company) may not be compatible with baby-raising, so I was planning on taking a year off. But now I feel guilty asking him to support all three of us on his salary. Not sure I have a real question here, but any thought you might have to help me untangle some of my fears would be much appreciated!

A.
Carolyn Hax :

This might not be untangling so much as kicking them down the road, but it's common for women to feel the reality of a coming child and engage emotionally a lot sooner than a man.* 

*Disclaimer that will exceed the length of my answer: This is a huge generalization where individual experience is as immediate as it gets, and so it doesn't account for women who feel detached while pregnant, men who get emotionally invested right away, or men and women who never warm to their kids. I merely offer it to allow you to postpone your concerns for after the baby arrives, and possibly a bit beyond that, since parents bond with their kids at their own pace. Once the child arrives, the thing to look for is your husband's effort at caregiving--that "kind, dutiful" heavy lifting--even if he's a little slow to be head-over-heels.

– June 28, 2013 12:37 PM
Q.

For Liar Liar

Telling D that he doesn't need to make stuff up to impress people may not work. If he's got an actual mental issue, such as Borderline Personality Disorder or something along those lines, he may lie compulsively rather than out of a real need to impress. In any case, the encouragement to get therapy would be much more effective, if he's willing to listen. Chances are, anything said will wreck any friendship though. J needs to decide whether it's worth it to be D's friend.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

None of it may work. It's just what a friend needs to do. Thx. 

I'm posting this because it bears repeating that saying the right thing or taking the right stand or enforcing the right boundary or whatever else we talk about here is not a guaranteed solution. It just addresses, or attempts to address, the half we're responsible for.  

– June 28, 2013 12:40 PM
Q.

For Baby Gut Check

There's all of one randomized study on sleep training, but it's a good one: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/4/643.short It didn't find any negative consequences of sleep training, though the babies studied were older than three months (between 8 and 10 months). Two of the sleep training biggies, Ferber and Weissbluth, recommend starting around four months. FWIW, I think Carolyn's suggestion of your husband taking an 8-12 shift is a great one, at least if/until you feel ready for sleep training. Hang in there.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

There you go--four months, thanks (though I think we waited a little longer), and I'll check out the study as soon as I can. 

– June 28, 2013 12:45 PM
Q.

Too generous for our kind

As a follow-up to today's column, how do you tell a good friend to stop giving us gifts? She can't afford it, we don't need it, and it is way awkward!! We can't afford to reciprocate, and don't. We send thank you notes every time. Any "you shouldn't have" is rebuffed. Suggestions?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

I have no stinkin idea. I have such a gift-giver in my life, and nothing has worked except to accept that this is how s/he shows love, and my job is to receive it as such. Yes, even knowing it creates financial difficulties on the giver's end, and clutter problems on mine, and does its small part to create environmental problems for everyone else. The economy appreciates it, maybe, and the recipient when it becomes a charitable donation. 

Has anyone found the silver bullet here?

 

– June 28, 2013 12:50 PM
Q.

Constant complaints, no action

My husband is a complainer. Always has been. His complaints often also encompass criticism (or what I perceive to be), usually of something regarding parenting our 5 and 3 year olds (I'm a SAHM). His complaints/criticism very, very rarely offer any sort of suggestions or fixes. This has been a frustrating cycle throughout our relationship and I can't figure out how to break it. I call him out, it seems to get better briefly, and then starts all over again. Please help, Carolyn.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Have you tried the super-simple. "What I'm hearing is that you think X. Is that correct?" He either says yes, or clarifies. Then: "I see. So it's not X, it's Y. Do you have any suggestions for how to fix it?" Followed by either, "Great, then please feel welcome to try that," or, "Hmm. Well, if you think of anything, let me know," depending on whether he comes up with something.

That's the micro answer, obviously. The macro is that this is who he is, as your relationship has told you all along, and that means any changes need to come from you--be it to accept that this is who and how he is, or to decide a home with him in it is not a healthy one, or to find some workable point between these two extremes. Counseling is a  viable option, of course, either to get to the root of his negativity (if he's willing to go) or to figure out strategies for dealing with him (if he's unwilling and you go alone). I hope you're in a position to consider it.

 

 

– June 28, 2013 1:00 PM
Q.

Affair with Married Coworker

Hi Carolyn! I found out this week that my boyfriend of 3.5 years carried on about a two month affair with a married coworker. There were hundreds of text messages, a few emails, and a lot of sexts. I found out by looking in his email because I thought something was going on. Before I found out, he had talked about opening up the relationship with this specific coworker. I spoke with her husband yesterday, and I am fairly confident that we have all the details now. I sent her husband the pictures that were in emails at his request. I don't know how things are going to get better between my boyfriend and me, and we are supposed to go to visit his family over the Fourth. Any advice?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

Wait a minute--you sent pictures from your boyfriend's account to the lover's husband? How you handle the Fourth now and your relationship with your boyfriend eventually is entirely up to you (seems like a no-brainer to me, but the only right answer is what's right for you two), but those photos were not yours to send.

Since I'm here, I'm also not sure what "opening up the relationship with this specific coworker" means. If you mean that your boyfriend was suggesting that you and he have an open relationship and that he already had her picked out, then he pretty much told you everything before you went digging.

 

– June 28, 2013 1:10 PM
Q.

Needless Worrier

Hi Carolyn, I am often hit by panic (sometimes brought on by someone's non-responsiveness, sometimes not) that a loved one is in trouble. My first response is to send a text or call, but if i don't get a response back, it's all i can do not to start panicking and imagining the worst. Rather than constantly call/text (the wonders of modern technology) until I get a response, do you have any suggestions on how I could talk myself down or otherwise listen to my brain when it tells me to wait a few hours before I start to really worry?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

Have you sought a diagnosis or treatment for a possible anxiety (panic) disorder?

I imagine some part of a coping strategy will be to try to "listen to your brain," as you're already doing, and part will be to distract it with things that reliably consume your attention. Still, no sense in discounting the wonders of modern health care before you try.

– June 28, 2013 1:17 PM
Q.

Relationships

Hi Carolyn, I'm in a nearly four-year relationship that, while sometimes tumultuous, I am unlikely to leave (the myriad issues would take an entire online chat, but bottom line is that we have troubles, but love each other and are committed to each other). I've sacrificed a lot for this relationship, including moving into the exurbs -- the ultimate sacrifice, to me! Lately we've had some heated debate about changing my name when we get married (not engaged yet, but saving for a wedding...). I've built my career on my name and want to keep it professionally, which he objects to, even though I've said I'll change it legally and in every other sense except for work. How do I win this battle? I hate acrimony between us, but this one, I think, is just too important.

A.
Carolyn Hax :

What things have you "sacrificed" that you decided weren't "too important"? Besides where you live, that is. This whole question is a red flag, to the extent that I can't answer your actual question.

That's because the way to "win this battle" in a healthy relationship is to say that it's important to you and that changing your name legally is as much of a compromise as you're willing to consider--at which point the person who loves you says, "Of course--all that really matters is that we're together. And you don't even have to change your name legally if you're not comfortable doing that, though I appreciate your willingness to do that for me." No battle, no winning, just two people working together to take care of their own and their mutual interests in a way that's fair. If you don't have that, then "love" and "commitment" are just chaining yourself to pain under the guise of a lofty purpose.

 

 

– June 28, 2013 1:24 PM
Q.

Silver Spring

Hi, Carolyn, Husband and Wife (me) have been married for about a year. Wife is 31 and wants to get the baby years out of the way before fertility becomes an issue, and independently has begun to crave parenthood primally. Husband wants kids eventually but says he isn't emotionally ready for parenthood yet (and doesn't have an ETA on when he'll be ready). H suddenly wants a dog. On one level, he's just always wanted a dog (he grew up with them), but on another level, he seems to believe that having a puppy will placate or distract me from wanting a baby. (Ridiculous, of course.) I'm not against having a dog, but in this context I really don't want one. It certainly wouldn't replace a baby in my mind, and I also worry that taking on that extra responsibility would sour H even more toward the baby idea (because the dog would take up more time and money that he already guards preciously). I would be okay with adopting a dog AFTER starting a family, but resent the idea of doing it now. However, I also don't want it to seem like I'm "punishing" him for not having a baby. Please help!!!

A.
Carolyn Hax :

Maybe this is You're Talking Trees, but All I See Is Dysfunction Forest day, but there are about ... lemme see ... 6 or 7 different areas on which you either don't respect or don't trust each other, and instead are operating as independent agents. That's no place to put a baby or a dog. 

I'm thinking better of commenting on the "isn't emotionally ready for parenthood yet" remark by someone presumably also over 30, because, despite its keyboard-thumpage potential, it is far better to say this out loud than it is to keep it in or, worse, not to recognize it in oneself.

If you have access to it, then I suggest marriage counseling; if you don't, then I suggest a reputable marriage seminar or workshop (even pre-marital, since those tend to be more common); if one of you refuses "to talk about our problems to strangers" or "to see this as anything we can't solve yourselves," then that goes on the list of ways you're acting as individuals vs. as a couple.

If you can go to him now and say, "Dogs, kids--neither of them is going to work if we aren't acting as a team," and if he can be receptive enough to discuss this with an open mind, then maybe you can get to an answer that way that suits you both. 

– June 28, 2013 1:39 PM
Q.

recoverable friendship?

A friend and I were close but drifted apart. We still share a group of friends and socialize together within group settings, but we haven't spent time together one-on-one in probably three years. She is getting married soon and I am not invited, though all of our mutual friends are. I was stung and embarrassed to be excluded. Then, recently, I ran into her by chance and I realized I missed being her friend. Now I am wondering if I should tell her that I miss her or if I should accept the non-invitation as her closing the book on our friendship. Any advice?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

Just talk to her. "Hey, after I ran into you the other day, I realized I missed being your friend. Is what came between us anything I can repair?" Nothing to lose, especially since you've already gotten "stung and embarrassed" out of the way.

– June 28, 2013 1:42 PM
Q.

OP Affair with Married Coworker

You are correct, my boyfriend suggested that we have an open relationship and was already involved in the affair with his married coworker. I took pictures on my phone of the email pictures and sent those.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Unless you too are interested in an open relationship, this one's over, no? And those pix were still not yours to send.

– June 28, 2013 1:43 PM
Q.

Response to Four Years Later

Did you miss that this woman told you that she has been someone's mistress for four years, waiting on him to leave his wife, and he has finally told her that he isn't. He is done with her, and will probably move on to his next mistress. Here is what to figure out - don't date people that are married!
A.
Carolyn Hax :

If that's in fact the case. The "waiting for the divorce to be finalized" could mean anything from her being the other woman to his being long separated (due to foot-dragging, legal entanglements, custody issues, etc.). Not enough info there.

– June 28, 2013 1:47 PM
Q.

How do I win this battle?

"I'm not changing my name professionally. I'm sorry you don't like that, but I'm not discussing this again."
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Good for the tree, thanks, but forest still awaits attention, I think. Though that kind of spine and sureness of self is probably the best attention it can get. 

– June 28, 2013 1:48 PM
Q.

Needless Worrier OP

I am getting treatment -- I have a great therapist, and I just a few months ago went on anti-depressants, which have done wonders, but I guess I'm bummed out that this sort of panic hit me again despite the treatment. I have a hard time figuring out how to distract myself -- I'll often try to take a walk or put my phone away so i stop checking it. But when I'm at work, I'm working in front of a computer doing research and writing, which is easy to get distracted from (rather than say, picking up calls all day).
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Thanks for writing back, and I'm glad to hear you're in treatment and it's helping. This:

"I just a few months ago went on anti-depressants, which have done wonders, but I guess I'm bummed out that this sort of panic hit me again despite the treatment. I have a hard time figuring out how to distract myself ..."

... sounds like a fine opener for your next session. All treatments are part established effectiveness, part luck, part hard work and patience, and part acceptance that even when things are going great, we're all vulnerable to low moments and unwelcome thoughts. Hang in there.

– June 28, 2013 1:52 PM
Q.

baby on the way

Our family is expecting its third child, and my wife has often expressed concern that I am not as "engaged" as she is. I'll preface this by saying I was a SAHD with our first two and my "dad cred" is pretty well established. The issue wasn't so much that I wasn't engaged as that I wasn't displaying obvious worries or concern about the impending. Well, I'm not worried. I have confidence that we are well-prepared and that we can handle whatever comes. I have to remind my wife now and again that my calm demeanor in no way means I'm not excited/engaged/etc., but that's what communication is all about. People react to the same situation in different ways, and it's best not to judge another people's reactions by your own tendencies.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Good stuff, thanks. 

– June 28, 2013 1:53 PM
Q.

Re: Silver Spring dog/baby

I can see it now, Carolyn - the H gets the dog, W does all the work... fast forward a few years - W has baby, W does all the work. H guards his personal time, goes out a lot with coworkers, has an affair... how am I doing so far? Do you ever get the feeling that couples replicate just a few life scripts, and this in the way the most common one works out? I'd say W should extract herself from H now, start looking for someone "emotionally ready to have children"
A.
Carolyn Hax :

You forgot H blames W for affair, for pushing H into things H said he didn't want.

I wouldn't say this is the "most common one"--so unfair to men--but I definitely recognized the "life script" as I answered the question. While it might come to extraction as th eonly answer, it's also possible that if the two of them just make basic efforts toward understanding:

-what they've taken on,

-what they've assumed going in,

-what they owe each other as well as themselves, and

-what they stand to gain if they both go all in (vs what they stand to lose if they don't while going through the motions of a marriage) ...

then here's still room for an aha moment. They did get married, so they did both want a life together in some form, and I don't think the "takers" in relationships automatically get there consciously as a way of securing their own advantages. There's room for good intent to be overwhelmed by bad emotional examples and habits. I hope that's the case here, and that both are open to learning and committing to some new ones. 

– June 28, 2013 2:03 PM
Q.

after the wedding?

Could the person on the outside/not invited to the wedding reach out to her and just ask about reconnecting -after- the wedding? that way, it won't feel like begging/being begged for an invite.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Good point, thanks.

– June 28, 2013 2:04 PM
Q.

Re: Constant Complaints

My husband is very similar - he constantly points out problems or issues, usually in regards to something we're doing - projects around the house, plans we're making, etc., and expects me to solve them. Most issues I had already thought of and addressed, but some were legitimate, so I didn't want to cut him off. After mentally strangling him a few times, I started saying this: Okay, so you feel that X is an issue. What do you propose to do about it? His response is invariably "I don't know", to which I reply "Okay, I'm going to go get a cup of coffee/go for a walk/clean the kitchen/etc. When I get back, please give me your proposal." He's analytical enough to recognize issues, but panics when put on the spot about taking action. Giving him some time helps him work through it, and saves my sanity.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Plus, you get coffee, a walk, and/or a clean kitchen. Though I'd stop at the coffee/walk. Thanks for this. 

 

– June 28, 2013 2:05 PM
Q.

Carolyn Hax :

Coffee. Hmmm ... 2 minutes. 1 if I scurry.

Q.

CONSTANT COMPLAINING

Two of the toughest things for me to get used to as a Dad were that: 1. My wife's parenting would not be like that of my parents. 2. My children were not me and would require different parenting than I did. Since hubby's complaints are about parenting, the question of how he was brought up and how his children are being brought up might be broached at a time when he is not complaining--if there is such a time. It might start with Mom remarking on things she is doing different from her parents as a parent.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Such a great way to look at it, thank you.

– June 28, 2013 2:08 PM
Q.

Silver bullet?

Not the most tactful method but I had a roommate who immediately got rid of every gift given to her, be it through re-gifting or donating. I think I only picked up on this because we lived together. I accidentally broke one of her favorite glasses, and was so excited when I found similar ones. I gave them to her as a birthday gift and never even saw them in the cabinet. She was always polite about saying thank you but I took the hint and stopped giving her things. Somewhere a relative or friend of hers is drinking out of uniquely painted wine glasses.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

I love this story but, unfortunately, the "silver bullet" here is someone who holds fast to her position meeting someone else who cares enough to notice and respect that position. That doesn't solve the over-gifting problem so much as it prevents it from happening. 

– June 28, 2013 2:12 PM
Q.

I have two loves--how do I forget one?

Before last Thursday, I was happily married with no intentions of ever leaving or straying. Then I went camping with a group of friends (but not my husband), and a night of deep conversation with a close friend led to three nights of cuddling and kissing with some sexual activity, but not intercourse. I have loved this man for ten years but kept up a wall because I never thought he'd feel the same way. He is also averse to relationships due to his family history, and I didn't feel confident he would come around, so I stayed with my sure thing--my now-husband. Since we've taken this leap, I can't stop thinking about what might have been. The friend and I have agreed that I should not leave my husband, but I fear this man is the love of my life and that I can never be truly honest with my husband again. How do I reconcile my fears with what must be my future?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

This man is no "friend." He is a mirage, a shiny bit of foil you mistook for precious metal, someone who enjoyed your affection with no regard for what it would cost you and no intention of making more than a weekend of it. That's what "averse to relationships" means.

So you don't have "two loves." You have one love, and one, idunno, bottle of something intoxicating that you had forgotten was there but recently and very unfortunately stumbled across last weekend. 

What you say to your husband, if anything, is a complicated question that you need to put aside until the feelings churned up by your weekend have settled a bit. How you look at your marriage, though, is something you can start taking on now: There's no "must be" when it comes to your future, except that you're in it. Everything else involves some degree of choice.

To include this other guy in any way in your choices about your marriage--"the friend and I have agreed that I should not leave my husband"!--is such a stunning insult to your husband that it arguably eclipses your campground canoodling. All the other man gets to decide is whether he's interested in you and interested in pursuing some kind of relationship. Whether you stay in your marriage or leave it is about no one but you and your husband, and up to no one but you two.

If you can't get your mind and heart back around to seeing this, then I;m not sure staying married is the best thing for your husband. Because of the stakes here, because of how off-kilter this whole episode knocked you, and because you can't exactly hash this out with your usual confidants, I urge you to find a good therapist asap and start talking, and not just because this is shaping up to be the therapy chat.

– June 28, 2013 2:30 PM
Q.

The other spouse

My husband of 10 years has been having an affair with a married woman. I moved out, we're getting divorced. It sucks more than I could have imagined, but am coping with the help of good friends and a good therapist. My question is about TOW's husband, who (according to my husband) doesn't know about the affair or her plans to leave her marriage. I don't know if I should contact her husband or not. On one hand, I want to because I'm angry and I'd like to upset her life as much as she's upset mine. The fact that she gets to time her separation for her own convenience (i.e. once my stuff is out of my house so she can move her stuff in) irritates the hell out of me. I also think her husband has a right to know. On the other, I cringe at the idea of tracking down a stranger and telling him this awful news. Sending him an email, waiting outside his work.....ugh, I hate the thought of doing that. It seems sneaky and petty and I don't like it. And if he does know and has just accepted the situation....I hate that scenario even more. I really don't want to be involved anymore. I just want to get out of this situation and get on with my life, and contacting her husband would keep me very much involved. I'd become a participant rather than a disgusted by-stander. I know you've touched on this topic before. What do you advise?

A.
Carolyn Hax :

I don't need to advise anything, except to suggest you reread your own letter. You wrote your way to the answer yourself: "I really don't want to be involved anymore. I just want to get out of this situation."

It it helps to keep you centered, think of all things marriage and affair as smoking wreckage behind you, which you return to and pick through only when there's an absolute necessity. Otherwise, you're all forward, all tomorrow, all you. 

– June 28, 2013 2:37 PM
Q.

Mom and Memory

My mom had a startling memory lapse on the phone the other day. I discussed with my sisters, and one was alarmed (as I was), and the other was not (citing - maybe she had a couple of glasses of wine and was just tipsy). She is visiting me and my family this weekend, and I am not sure how to handle this. My mother has never had the best memory, but not the worst either. Do I approach as an isolated incident and see if I see any other signs of loss of function? Do I talk about this with her (or will that only make her defensive and try to hide stuff from me?)? I feel kind of lost.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

The timing here is actually quite good, even though it has you anxious. Use this weekend to see if there are other changes that concern you. If there are, then talk to your mom about it.

You can discuss how to approach your mom by talking to an elder-care specialist. This site (link) has a locator for local services for the aging, and you just punch in your Zip code to find a number you can call. 

– June 28, 2013 2:44 PM
Q.

Philadelphia

My ex and I divorced acrimoniously a few years ago, but are planning to put up a unified front later this month when we drive our son to another state to settle in for his first year of college. I have worked extensively with a counselor (on my own, not something my ex was willing to consider) and feel good about my ability to stay out of petty fights at this point. I recently found out (mentioned to me by our younger child) that my ex is planning to throw a big goodbye cookout for our son, with relatives and family friends invited, and he has not mentioned this to me or asked for input. I'm hurt about this and don't know how it'll play out as we'll be on a 2-hour car trip together shortly afterward. Do you think I should mention it to him or not? I certainly don't want to miss a party that celebrates my son (although honestly I have held events that my husband didn't attend).
A.
Carolyn Hax :

That's your answer, then, isn't it? You celebrate better without him, he celebrates better without you, and both of you can love your son without celebrating in the same place. Your impulse to feel hurt is normal, but choosing to override that impulse is at this point a gift you give both to yourself and to your son--and perhaps the younger child especially. 

As for the car ride, good for both of you for taking it on. I can't see how mentioning the party would benefit anyone, though it might help if you say to your son beforehand that you know about it (if he doesn't know his sib spilled the beans) and that he doesn't need to tiptoe around it when you're all in the car. Might take some pressure off the kid; no doubt he's feeling a fair amount of dread over this drive.

– June 28, 2013 2:51 PM
Q.

Friend's lying boyfriend

Carolyn: I love your advice, and I have a question that I need your assistance with. I have a very dear friend who has been dating a guy for year. While this guy is very nice to her and (from what I can see) is a devoted boyfriend, I have found out that he has told her (and others) substantial lies about his background. For instance, he claimed to have attended an Ivy-league school, but there is no record that he did so, and he says he worked for a government agency, but we have found out that he did not. The question is- should we say anything to our friend? She is very successful, and we don't want her taken advantage of. That said, she is appears to be happy, and I would not want to do anything to stop that. I think you see the quandry.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Are you SURE he's lying, or are you just unable to confirm? If it's the former, I'd want to know. I'm going to make this a poll in my forum (link), so you can see how others would want you to handle it. (Give me about 10 min to set it up.)

– June 28, 2013 2:54 PM
Q.

RE: Mom and Memory

The Alzheimer's Association has an 24/7 helpline. The number is 1.800.272.3900 you can call to talk to someone. They can provide guidance of local resources and tips on what to look for when your mom visits.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Good stuff, thanks.

– June 28, 2013 2:55 PM
Q.

Two loves

"How do I reconcile my fears with what must be my future?" Ugh. Put down the victorian romances, and step away...
A.
Carolyn Hax :

I did recently publish that "Six Feet Under" clip of Kathy Bates dropping her sandwich in disgust, right? 

– June 28, 2013 2:56 PM
Q.

Re: the dog would take up more time and money that he already guards preciously

The anxiety over time and money is a personality thing. It's not going to go away over time. If you're so concerned over things like that, a baby will strain them. For my dad (a known cheapskate), he never opened up to the idea of spending more money on his kids than he had to. He had real anxiety about the time and money we took up from him. ANd he was well into his 40s when we were born! Trust me...if your husband doesn't get rid of that mentality and you do have kids? Well...they'll be asking, "Why did you have kids anyway?" like my sibs and I frequently do.
A.
Carolyn Hax :

Ouch. Well said, and I'm sorry. This was one of the areas of disrespect and independent functioning that I mentioned. He has his own ways with time and money that don't include her, and she is dismissive of them, if I read the tone correctly, to the point of contempt. So not only does it promise to be hard on the kids, as you point out so powerfully, it also will (further) strain the parents' relationship. 

I do wonder, though, if it's indeed a "personality thing" (fixed) or a condition that can be improved as long as he's open to improving it. 

– June 28, 2013 3:00 PM
Q.

Carolyn Hax :

Okay, that's it for today. Since I can't resist a pop-culture reference that dates me, maybe we should name this transcript Corky Sherwood Forest.

Anyway, if you'd like to write a headline for the transcript, please submit it to Bethonie in the next few minutes. 

Thanks everyone for stopping by, have a great Fourth, see you on July 12, and be sure to take the soon-to-be poll as soon as I set it up. 

Oh--and Wedding Hoot date is under discussion, staty tuned. 

 

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