Grief bacon: Carolyn Hax Live (Friday, April 4)

Apr 04, 2014

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 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.

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Hax Philes discussions

Well, hello there.

My husband of 17 years, who used to be a fitness fanatic, has not done anything to get or stay in shape in 3 years. I am doing aerobics and other activities to lose the 50 pounds I managed to put on in the past few years. So. . . I guess I just sit back and wait for him to get his act together, is that it? Because nothing I do or say will change his mind. Therefore, he will continue to get bigger and I will continue to get more and more turned off by him physically. Sounds like a winning plan to me.

Sarcasm! I get it. Clever.

The advice I gave leaves room for you to tell him how you feel, and for the two of you to discuss ways to approach this problem that are respectful of each other and of the marriage.

I'm not sure what else you're looking for. If threatening him with bodily harm unless he hits a treadmill were legal, he'd still have enough room in his day, presumably, to binge on fast food the moment you weren't looking. Knowing the limit of your reach is Step 1 in figuring out what you can and can't, should and shouldn't do.

If he was up in your grill about the 50 you put on, then he crossed that line himself. If he wasn't in your grill about them, then he pretty much just made my point.

 

I enjoy your column and your common sense. And the random dictionary that's evolving here! Saw this today and thought of you and the nuts: There a German word that literally translates to "grief bacon." It describes the weight gained from emotional eating, such as after a loved one dies or during a period of depression. It was featured in Mental Floss's 15 Wonderful Words With No English Equivalent. Now, I have no grief bacon to discuss at this time, but figured it might come up with this endless winter. Thanks for all you do! Happy in SoCal

You're welcome, and thank you--I'm saddened that I've spent 47 years on earth without this term in my lexicon.

I would have posted this faster, but I was eating a truffle.

Hi Carolyn. I've been living with my partner for 3 months (we started dating a year before moving in). I only moved in once we'd agreed that we saw the same future together, etc. but I find myself in a weird place following our first big fight since cohabiting. Long story short, he was late to meet me, didn't get in touch, second time this week, I blew my stack. He said in response that I don't treat him well because he has to hang around work longer than he'd like while I finish my job and get to him to met up. We argued and then he bailed on our plans. I went out alone. Now I'm back home, he's in the other room playing Battlefield, and we haven't seen each other or said a word. How does a couple get through a big balls-out fight when they share a bed? This is new to me.

You've got the first part down: Find room to be alone to cool off. It's like subway privacy, where you can be smashed up against each other but still have distance by not making eye contact.

The second part, when you're ready, is that one of you sucks it up and approaches the other. This step is best executed after you have sorted out what you're upset about, what you wish had happened, what you need now to move past it, and how you contributed to the problem.

For example, in this case, you were upset about being left hanging and then got more upset when accused you of not treating him well; you wish he had just shown up on time (or called) and, even better, explained his frustration with staying later at work before it became a Thing; and you will be able to leave this behind you when you are able to articulate this to him, and when you have some confidence that he understands what upset you. There's no guarantee you'll get this, so be ready to figure out what your next step will be if he refuses to have this out.  

It's also possible this fight is just a proxy for something else/bigger that's nagging at him, so give him room to say that.

Looking at your own contributions is essential. Are you being inflexible on the after-work plans? Are you making it hard for him to express reservations about the way you do things? If so, admitting these upfront will go a long way toward facilitating a resolution. And if you're not doing any of these things--if you're clear that you're open to other ideas, if you hear him out when he objects, if you don't get upset when things go his way instead of yours--then you need to ask yourself whether his withhold-withhold-boom communication style here extends to other areas of his and your lives.

 

 

Dear Carolyn, Thanks so much for taking my question.  My father is a very well known physician in a highly specialized field. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, he wasn't around much because of the demands of his work. I was not surprised when my parents got a divorce when the last of their kids entered high school. Much to our surprise, my Dad is retiring soon and teaching medicine at a nearby medical school. The hospital where he works is planning a big good-bye party for him, including inviting his surviving patients. I plan to attend this event, but it will be hard. I love my Dad, I just don't know him very well. Intellectually, I know that he has contributed so much to his field and to his patients lives. But emotionally, it is hard for me to disconnect this contribution from his absence from my life. He was so busy being their doctor that he wasn't being my father. Listening to endless rounds of speeches and genuine thanks from his patients is really hard for me. One of my siblings already RSVP'd no to the event, my mother isn't attending for obvious reasons, and my two other siblings are on the fence. I think attending the party is the right thing to do, I just need some help getting into the right mindset. On a different note, I am hoping my Dad's career shift means he might have more time for a relationship with me. Any tips for fostering that?

Go to the goodbye party. (The advice-columnist's version of a tip-in.)

Yes, it will be hard. You are grown now though, yes? So, you don't need to "disconnect this contribution from his absence from my life." I can think of no better host for contradictory feelings than an adult human body, so go with it. Yes, this was the dad you barely knew. Yes, this is the dad who is responsible for saving a roomful of people, who understandably want to show their gratitude by celebrating him. Yes, their gain was your loss.

But it's done. One fine way of moving forward will be to spend one night seeing your father through other people's eyes. Don't go just because it fits some vague standard of The Right Thing To Do, but because your father is a part of you that you don't fully know, and this party is a one-time-only chance to learna  lot more all at once. Think like a researcher, who is going just to see and take it all in, at a minimum, and who if lucky will come away with some useful insight.

One caveat. If you go with even a vague hope of some emotional resolution, then you might be better off not going. It sounds as if you've put yourself in the position of wanting something from your dad for all these years--as in, the position of inviting disappointment. Starting now, please try instead to put yourself in the position of receiving whatever he happens to be able to give, and deciding only then how you will respond. His having more time might be a false promise--surely he can immerse himself anew in teaching--and if he does have more time, his using it on relationships might be beyond his emotional capacity. Don't assume this, just be ready for it. To continue the think-like-a-researcher suggestion, pose this next stage of your lives together as a question you'll spend some time answering: He is who he is--and this applies to this new phase how? 

In general, I suggest letting other people tell--or, I should say, show--you what your expectations of them need to be. Good luck.

How do I know if I want kids badly enough to agree to have them to please my very beloved wife?

Minds aren't stretchy enough to get around that. 

They can usually manage this question, though: How good are you at adapting to what you get, vs. what you always thought you'd have?

The people who are comfortable living the lives their choices hand them, and regarding them as part sacred duty, part adventure (and I'm not just talking kids here), will be much happier parents than the ones who respond to a tough situation by looking back on what might have been.

If that's not enough to work with, then write back and I'll take another shot at it.

Last night I was out drinking with my coworker. She mentioned she was going to stay at her boyfriend's apartment while he was away because there's a bad situation at her apartment. Half-way through the evening she got a message from him that she couldn't (or shouldn't) stay there. The reason sounded weird to me -- and also he was still away in another state. I jokingly said "well maybe he's cheating on you and he's actually home right now." At that point she said "why would you put that thought in my head!" She then left to go to his apartment to see if he was. I texted her later and asked if she was okay and she said she was fine and apparently went back to her apartment without going to his -- despite the uncomfortable situation. In truth I've met her boyfriend and never would have thought he was a cheater, it was just an off-the-cuff remark while we were drinking. But I sense I did something wrong, and she's a little cool to me now. I'm sure she'll forgive me, but I feel like a bad friend. Did I actually transgress?

It wasn't the most sensitive thing to say, but it certainly sounds like a forgivable throwaway between friends ... that happened to hit a nerve. If you haven't done so already, apologize for not thinking before you spoke, and then let time patch up the rest. 

I went out on a few dates with a nice guy who I had a lot of fun with. I believe he did as well since he contacted me, had me talk to a sibling, showed me pics of his family, did the future talk (we should hike Old Rag...we should go see this movie...etc)...I reached out and haven't heard from him since. I'm considering it done, however I would like to know from the male readers why a guy would just stop contact after appearing to enjoy a date's company and time. Had I had an inkling that something was wrong, I would have understood. Thanks! :)

Sending male 'nuts to Philes. Painful as it sounds, that's what I'm doing. Jess, would you please kick this over (sorry!). 

Please, truly, comment on this over on that thread, because the ones you send here won't see daylight. Thanks. 

Here it is. Help her out, guys!

Carolyn, Recently I've become friends outside of work with a co-worker, which I don't normally do. We have a lot in common and enjoy spending time together. I thought maybe we could be more than friends (not even necessarily now, but maybe in the future), but during a conversation he said that he wanted to clarify that we are hanging out as 'just friends'. I was so surprised by the conversation that I just replied by nodding and saying 'of course'..and then we moved on to talk about other things. I'm not sure now if I should bother trying to go back and clarify his statement as being a permanent thing (i.e. he's just not attracted to me at all) or if it's a 'for now' statement (as in you never know..maybe once we weren't co-workers it'd be different). What do you think?? I do want to keep the friendship because I do like him and enjoy doing things with him. Thanks!

Then take him at his word and treat this just as a friendship.

You say you want to keep the friendship regardless, but be extra sure: If you were pursuing the friendship just for the promise of something more, then consider stepping back, at least to think a bit. You don't want to be rationalizing away hopes of something more. You can have them, certainly, but they'll have much less power over you if you recognize them for what they are.

If instead you're genuinely okay with this being all it is, and even went into it accepting that, and the only reason you pursued this to begin with was the basic pleasure of his company, then go with it.

DON'T "go back and clarify," by the way. What are you going to say: "Are you saying you're not attracted to me now, or are you saying not ever?"

Again--assume not ever. It's better to be pleasantly surprised when something does develop than to be let down when something doesn't. 

I'm not the original poster, but I am someone who has always wanted kids. However, most times you ask: how good at you at adapting? My answer: not very good. My boyfriend, whom I envision a future with (and we have talked about kids and a future) is very good at adapting but usually has to talk me off the ledge whenever change happens. Does the fact that I'm not great with adapting to change or different expectations mean I'm not going to be a good parent?

You can be an excellent one under those conditions, if you put in the effort and show mostly a loving face to your children even when you're struggling. The question is, can you be a happy one, and can you be a good co-parent with your boyfriend, given your two very different natures. 

Since you know you have this side to your personality, have you tried figuring out a strategy for dealing with change that's less dependent on someone being there to reel you in? Not that there's something inherently wrong with leaning on someone else; partners of all kinds do and should draw from each other's strengths to help minimize their weaknesses. Plus, being resistant to change isn't all bad, since it can be an important check on someone who is too quick to jump on new things.

But we're all on our own sometimes, so having a way to approach our own specific, forseeable weaknesses can go a long way toward reducing the stress they cause and the impact they have on others. And that can make your change-resistent nature less of an obstacle to being a ... "good" is loaded, 'happy" is too, even though I just used it ... a gratified parent.

Make sense?

 

That question was phrased incorrectly, sorry. I should have said, how do I know whether my reservations about having kids are significant enough that I shouldn't have them, even if that means losing said beloved wife? The question you asked in response is the one I'm asking myself. Plenty of people have told me they didn't want kids, but then never regretted them. Part of me wonders whether that's just what people have to say when placed in that situation (because what else can a person say). I am not an inflexible person, and I do consider myself quite adventurous. I see kids as adventure-killers.

Now, that's a failure of imagination. I see it as the ultimate adventure, to take something that doesn't exist and bring it about, nurturing it into something complete and independent of you. 

I'm choosing my words carefully for a reason--this adventure can be a child, yes, but also a work of art, a garden, a structure, a business, a type of animal, so many things. 

I am as skeptical as you are of the "Oh you'll love them when they're yours" line of reasoning, or of the notion that people who have kids even reluctantly never seem to say they regret having them. It's what you say, and then some--because what else can a person think. Sure, some people regret having kids and just know they cant' say that out loud, but I'd wager there's a bigger population who don't even let themselves think that.

But. There's also a substantial population of people who are taken aback by what having kids does to the way they see the world. When you're in a restaurant getting irritated by the squirmy grubs at the next table, it's all but impossible to see this rewarding side of the deal. What you see is adults trying but failing to finish sentences and feed themselves in peace. Even when they're your own kids, that's a real and annoying (albeit fleeting) part of the deal.

But when they're your own kids, you also know them well enough to see when they get something---when they master a thing you daily take for granted and for months or years watched them be hopeless at doing. The big ones are smiling, talking, walking, etc., but there are also personal ones that are, for lack of a better word, just so damn exciting that you want to tell everyone! (Tip: Don't.) You see a kid facing an obstacle, and you feel that struggle with them, and you watch them clear it, using the force of their will and personality and wits. Wow. 

Or, flip it around, you see the world differently by having to explain it. I ran a column recently on how to talk about panhandlers to a child. There are countless times where a child's question forces you to put together a better answer than the one you were about to reflexively give. 

These specifics may be unique to kids, but the process of taking something from "0" to "fully realized" forces similar changes in priorities and similar changes to world view. And how is that not an adventure? Plus, you're pulling this off sleep deprived, broke, and unsure of your own competence!

It's not skydiving or a black diamond or a trip to Tahiti, but you can skydive and ski and travel with your kids, too, if that's your priority. You just have to budget for it, be patient till they're ready for it and not have more kids than you can afford to bring along. 

I should have taken longer with that. (Running with the sarcasm theme today.)

I wrote to you with a similar concern 8 years ago (recently moved in together after one year relationship, first fights while living together) and you told me "don't go cardboard yet" or something to that effect. Meaning, be kind to each other, give it time and don't freak out that moving boxes are imminent. You helped me a lot to calm my nerves and not let living together amplify anxiety about our disagreements. Just treat disagreements as a way to learn about each others' needs and learn how to take of each others' needs. Living together is also a great incentive to shorten the time of disagreements and lengthen the time between them. It's more fun to be happy on the same couch than sitting in different rooms on different couches.

This makes my day, thank you.

As someone who's about to file for divorce from the man who claimed he wanted kids and then promptly wanted nothing to do with them, I'll throw out this question for the OP: Do you want kids badly enough to dive in and be a present, involved, active, demonstrative, loving parent? Or does your desire to make your wife happy stop at your wife's elbow and burn out when you think about taking kids with you to the grocery store, planning your weekends around naptimes,and reading Hand Hand Fingers Thumb until your tongue is numb? Put another way - my husband and I have two kids, ages 3 years and 19 months. My husband parents in 10 minute increments about twice a week. When weekends roll around, he fills them with plans to ski, shop for equipment for his various hobbies, brew beer with friends, and work. He can walk into a room and completely ignore both kids, despite their clamoring for his attention. Don't have kids if that's how you're going to parent. If you plan to continue to see your non-working time as Your Time first, sparing a few moments for your kids if it's convenient, save everyone the headache and attorneys' fees, please.

And profound heartache. Thank you.

.... and while you're congratulating him at his retirement, say something along the lines of, will you have more free time now? I'd love to meet you for dinner or [insert other suggestion here]. Don't declare the agenda of getting to know him at long last, just start with one thing and see what develops, the way you get acquainted with a new friend.

Sounds good to me, thanks.

The word is "Kummerspeck" just so the rest of you don't have to run to Google it, too.

Oops--sorry for not pushing this out sooner.

where is that column?

Wait, wait! THIS is the best word not available in English: Backpfeifengesicht German word for a 'face that should be slapped' or "face in need of a fist"

Now go Google the pronunciation. 

Married 24 years and have had some rough patches that we worked through with a counselor. One of the best pieces of advice the counselor gave us is to separate our issues and deal with them separately. You deal with his frustration at you working late in a separate conversation from your frustration with him not calling. It has helped us many many times when we would get so caught up in the back and forth of who did what. Of course sometimes we're able to communicate without doing this but when we hit a roadblock we resort to separating the issues.

Thanks. One of the ways to separate issues without separating the conversations is to accept responsibility for the pieces: "Yes, I should have called you when I knew I'd be late. Being upset about the other thing did not justify that."

Then, voila, you're at the other thing. 

 

 

Dear Carolyn, My husband and I are lucky to live in close proximity with both of our mothers (widow/divorcee). My mother-in-law is a very sweet but boundary-challenged lady who constantly invites herself along when she hears about plans my husband and I have together (usually from my husband). Making matters somewhat worse, I am very close with my mom and would like to be able to invite her freely to do girly stuff without feeling obligated to invite my MIL as well, but my MIL has been hurt in the past when she wasn't extended such invites (again, my husband is usually the one inadvertently alerting her to my plans). Do we have an obligation to include her in a way that's exactly equal with the relationship I have with my own mom? Part of the issue is that she's recently retired, so this may start to self-correct once she finds a routine of her own.

"Exactly equal," no, but "mindful of your MIL's feelings," yes.

Plus, taking the initiative with MIL will help you with the larger issue of boundaries. If your MIL expresses hurt feelings about not being included in X with your mother, it'll be a lot easier to respond when you're able to say, "Husband and I can check our calendars, if you'd like to do X sometime in the next few weeks"--or, even better, "I understand [the hurt feelings]. I'm looking forward to Y, though," with Y being a plan you or your husband already arranged with her. 

And when she invites herself, "I'm sorry, this isn't a good time to come along, but what are you doing next [date you're able to offer to her]?"

Maybe her establishing a routine will take care of this problem entirely, but if the issue is that she feels excluded, inclusion -on your terms- will likely work better than just trying to hold the line.

Kids exacerbate issues within a relationship. If you have a short temper, it will desert you completely at times if you have children. If you are impatient with your SO, kids (especially young ones) will destroy any patience you might have had. If you nag, you will nag a lot more. If you check out on a regular basis (I'm thinking of the poster who is getting divorced), kids will almost certainly drive you into a new address. We have three kids (including one very young one), and the last year has been hell. We knew it would be (based on the past and our knowledge of how we do and don't work well together), but that doesn't make it easier. Kids are extraordinarily rewarding work, but really damned hard, too.

This is also true, thanks--and of a piece with the earlier post by the would-be parent who resists change. When at all possible, it's best to anticipate your own shortcomings and have a plan:

Short-tempered? Have some understanding of why your fuse is short, so you can work on developing patience; have self-calming tactics handy; have a code word with your partner so you can step away when you're losing it; have a good awareness of situations that push your buttons and avoid them when you can. Or, of course, don't have kids. 

If you check out on a regular basis, build relief into your day (exercise, paid child care, work outside the home, a standing class or team or hobby night); make sure your partner both accepts this and appreciates what other trait or quality you do have to offer that maybe s/he doesn't; and get used to the fact there will be times you can't go hide and you'll have to rally ... or, of course, don't have kids.

The one point on which i disagree with you is that I believe knowing these tough times are coming does make it easier, or at least more likely that you'll make it to the other side with healthy kids and a healthy relationship--just because you're both on board that it's temporary and you're both sticking it out. That in itself is better than having to wonder whether this is all there is, which I think is what lead many people to check out or quit or self-indulge instead of sucking it up.

Also, have a talk with your husband about telling her about your plans. He ought to realize that it's causing problems, and he needs to do the "oh, sorry, that won't work but how about some other time?" thing even more than you do.

True, and I should have said something to that effect, but: I also suspect(ed) that if he hasn't stopped blabbing to her by now, then there's likely a reason he hasn't (no filter, doesn't see the need, Mama asks pointed questions, etc.).  Thanks.

And what if it does? I have a withhold-withhold-boom partner that I can't get to see the value in talking about things before they get big or seeking professional help to learn to communicate better with each other.

As usual, you either change the way you deal with your partner (therapy solo can give you ideas, if needed), which can include leaving the relationship entirely, or you accept your partner as-is.

See next post, too. The way you respond to and read your partner does matter.

As a former boomer of the first order, I'd like to say that we are not all incapable of learning - it's possible to learn a new style of communication. An important element of this is feeling safe, and feeling heard - my style came from a history of being brushed off until I blew, in which case the response would be "Well, why didn't you tell me before?!" when I had been telling in more subtle ways for ages. If he was brought up this way, he has to learn how to communicate clearly, and she has to be able to hear him.

Thanks. You wanted to learn, that's the key.

Dear Carolyn, My girlfriend and I broke up earlier this year (mid-February) because I was ready to get engaged and she was not. She said she didn't know when she would feel differently and didn't want to make me wait too long. I was hurt and disappointed but agreed with her sentiment and we parted ways for a few weeks. At which point she contacted me, saying she regretted breaking up, that she does think she wants to get married, and that she hoped I would consider giving her a second chance. Now that we are back together (yes, she was worth giving a second chance), I'm conflicted about what to do next. I still want to propose to her, but to do so too soon seems undignifed. So...now what? I really don't want to start our marriage by begging her to take me.

No, you don't, but not because it'll make you look or even feel bad. You don't want to beg because you want her to go into a marriage aware of what life with you is like, and eager to live that life, period. Pressure makes bad decisions.

Maybe you need more time to be sure this is right for you--which would be understandable, so soon after she walked. But when you do feel ready, instead of proposing to her, maybe explain to her that you won't propose this time--instead, you'll leave it to her to bring it up when she wants to talk about it. 

Then really leave it alone. How does that sound?

Life was so much easier when we just had to kids so there would be more people to work the fields. Just sayin'.

The kids conceived just to serve as cheap labor no doubt would agree.

Sarcasm Day fits like a custom satin glove.

Can you remind me where we submit chat title suggestions?

Here. Like that. The same way you submitted this question. Do it quick before the chat ends!

I've noticed a trend in your column of female spouses doing (and pushing) outreach to the in-laws and similar responsibilities. I don't understand why women stress themselves out over what is supposed to be their husband's responsibilities. I can't recall any of your columns responding to a male inquiry of that nature. I already have so much to worry about -- work, family, chores, bills, my family's events, and other big stuff. I could never take on the additional responsibility for doing outreach to my husband's family too. I can't think of a single instance where I interacted with my in-laws without my husband present, and that contact has never been at my suggestion. That's the same with how he treats my family. Yet when my close friends got married, I'd see them worrying about "DH" not making a dental appointment for himself or forgeting his MIL's birthday or seeing Grandma before she dies. I'm surprised you never call out this adherence to stereotypical expectations for female behavior. After all, if women keep doing that, there's no incentive for their partners to ever step up. (If you think my feedback is odd, try and remember the last time you saw a man stressing out over passing around an office birthday card.)

I don't think your feedback is odd, and I agree this happens more than one might expect at a time when so many other responsibilities are rightly shared and/or relieved of their gender shackles. 

I have one quibble. I don't think this is "a trend in [my] column," but instead a fact of life reflected in my column. If there's any tend I'd say it's a trend away from this. It's just moving more slowly than the rest of the culture is on so many other things.

And, I have a beef: I generally "call out this [or other] adherence to stereotypical expectations for female behavior" when one is having that type of expectation of others. When one has this expectation of oneself, I generally stay out of it, unless the person in question is unhappy with it. Just because you or I value a life free of gender stereotypes doesn't mean any given LW does.

I've evolved my way here over the years I've done the column so there may be writings of mine that contradict this, but I try to accept people where they are and advise them accordingly--basically, by suggesting ways they can think about their problem from within their chosen way of life. If someone wants to live a gender-dictated life, then I'm going to stand up for his or her right to do that, and even give advice that helps make the best of that life, as long as s/he isn't imposing it on unwilling others. I might not choose it for me, but it's not me.

 

I am exactly in the OP's shoes, except that I am female, and my BF broke up because I want to be married and he doesn't. Now he "doesn't want to lose me" and is reconsidering - but if I just wait around for him to bring it (marriage) up, I will feel like I am giving all the power to him and just passively waiting for him to decide "now is the time", which seems like why we broke up in the first place! There has to be another answer.

There's part 2 of that answer, where you decide privately how long you're willing to wait, and wait for just that time. That's still waiting but not passively. 

You can also talk about it with him: "Okay, you're reconsidering--what does that mean? And what am I doing while you figure it out?"

One suggestion of something to do while he figures it out: Do some figuring of your own. Does his uncertaintly change your mind on whether you want to be married to him? Give that answer some time, too. Live, observe and consider. 

Hi Carolyn, Just wanted to thank you for taking the question I submitted awhile back about the doubts I was having about the wedding I'd lobbied so hard for. Ironically, it was published a little while after I got back from my honeymoon. I did end up offering to call the whole thing off without drama, and it was pretty cathartic to hear that we both still wanted to be with each other. Ironically, the (stupidly) unspecified "flaws" I was afraid were a permanent part of his personality mostly went away - he got a new job he likes a lot better, so he's far less prone to sulking and spends less of each evening zoning out in front of the tv. I am SO GLAD we actually went through with it. He's an even better husband than he was a boyfriend, and it's pretty clear he had a much better concept of how life-altering marriage is than I did. If I'd taken a second to think about that instead of going after what I wanted, I probably wouldn't have been pushing in the first place. Hopefully another type-A young woman will read this and maybe freak out a little less about her relationship.

Or more, as needed.

The Incredible Sulk might make an encore appearance, of course, if things stop going as well for him as they're going now--but presumably you'll know it's his way of responding to a downturn, vs. a sign of who he is throughout, and can talk to him accordingly. 

Not to be a honeymoon-pooper, just expressing the thought that came to mind. 

I'm so glad you and he had the catharsis and the wedding and have gotten to a happy place. Thanks so much for the update.

 

Hi Carolyn, LW1 today struck a nerve with me. I'm married to someone who while we were dating told me I needed to lose weight for him to be attracted to me. I lost the weight, about 20 lbs., and we got married. Fast forward five, we had two young kids, and my weight went back up. He's let me know he did not find me attractive. I managed to lose most of it again through exercise, and he's back to paying attention to me again physically. But I'm terrified of getting sick or something else happening resulting in another weight gain. Not asking for advice--I dug myself this hole. But if I were to do this over again knowing what I know now, I would have broken up over the weight loss request.

Says it better than I ever have, thank you. 

I have an abusive ex, too, and for a while I worried about how that fact would make me look in the eyes of others. But later, I thought-- I may have been in an abusive relationship, but I left. I left! I realized how badly he had been treating me, and I decisively broke off all contact with him. And then I sought therapy so that the same thing could never happen again. This was one of my most shining moments of strength and self-awareness. Anyone who can't appreciate that is not worth my time.

And, out on an awesome note, thank you.

Bye everyone, have a great weekend, and type to you here next week.

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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 New England with her husband and their three boys.

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