Carolyn Hax Live: Shady and Patsy (Friday, Jan. 30)

Jan 30, 2015

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax chats live every Friday at noon to answer any questions you might have about this strange train we call life.

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Hi everyone. Carolyn should be ready to start in a few minutes. Don't go away!

Hi everybody. Sorry about the delay--I wasn't able to get into the forum till now.

Carolyn - I generally think you give great advice, I've been a fan for years, but it always grinds my gears when you give women a free pass for acting selfish/hurt when friend/sister is pregnant and she has been struggling with infertility like you did in the 1/23 chat (yes I realize you gave other options). Just because a woman cant get pregnant does mean she has the right to resent other women, not be supportive of her friend/sister's life events because it is "too painful," or make people cater to her not wanting to be around babies. I think you don't expect enough out of these ladies who truly need to get a thicker skin and remember that Copernicus discovered the world revolves around the sun and not them.

We'll just have to agree to disagree then. Someone who is anxious, grieving and, in most cases, hopped up on artificial hormones has as good a reason to skip one party as the person who has a sore throat. I'd argue a better one.

Dear Carolyn, "Shady" is my husband's oldest friend. My husband and I got married over a decade ago and Shady married his wife "Patsy" the next year. We are all close, though the friendship between the two husbands is definitely the central wheel in the friendship. A few weeks ago, Shady confided in my husband that he is thinking seriously about leaving Patsy over this coming summer (they are both on the faculty at the same school and for a number of reasons it would be easier on them both not to split up during the semester). The reason boils down to boredom and feeling that he could be missing out on an exciting romance or adventure by staying with her. When my husband shared this news with me, it broke my heart. They have two small children and Patsy adores Shady. I have spent (a small amount of) time with her one-on-one, and I know that she (1) has no idea this is coming, and (2) will be devastated by it. Shady is intentionally behaving as though nothing is wrong, but I know that he is researching divorce and custody laws in earnest behind his wife's back. He does not know that I know (though he probably suspects I do). I'm not sure what to do. I have asked my husband not to tell me if something else, like an affair, comes to light, but I feel so burdened by the knowledge I already have that being around this couple has started to hurt my heart. I'm not sure what I can do that doesn't betray my husband's confidence.

Patsy lives now with someone who does not love her, does not love the experience of raising a family with her, and does not have the maturity to recognize that marriage and adult responsibilities aren't all adventure and romance. If this does not change between now and summer, then a better life than that awaits her without him. 

I won't pretend this will be anything but shocking and painful. However, there's nothing you can rescue or prevent by getting involved. Having this flaming *bleep* balloon land during summer is actually the best case of a bunch of bad scenarios, and I say this as a charter member of the honesty-means-now society. A shared workplace and small kids? And the better opportunity is only a matter of months away? You definitely let that thing hover till circumstances are calmer.

I'd ding Shady for breaking the confidence of his marriage by talking to your husb and not his own wife, but sometimes people need to work things out in their own minds before they start smashing things up.

What I'd suggest in that regard is that Shady needed to take this to a therapist's office, vs. a friend, and your husb now ought to steer him that way. If it's okay with your husb, you can speak up to him, too. Along the lines of, "Hey, while you're thinking about the degree of romance you're entitled to, you're about to drop a flaming *bleep* balloon on your wife and kids. Maybe it's time to talk to a family therapist to see how you can fix your marriage, or at least not end it in a gratuitously painful way."

 

 

I am having difficulty transitioning from being a mom to being a mother of an adult son. When I say what's bothering me out loud, I sound ridiculous to my own ears; nonetheless, I am falling into a deep funk, and need some advice on how to pull myself out - Here's the issue -- I am having difficulties with decisions my 20 year old son is making. For example, I suspect he's started smoking, and I know he just got his septum pierced, both of which he knows would bother me. I'm most upset about the smoking, truth be told, but what's REALLY bothering me is I found out he's blocking me on Facebook. I only joined FB when he was younger to be a presence, but, since he left for college, I've enjoyed seeing his posts and interactions with his friends. Yeah, I know - living vicariously through his experiences. I understand his need/desire for living his life without mom always there (so he can smoke and get piercings without parental interference), and never thought of myself as "that kind of mother", but I find I am devastated by this loss of openness in our relationship. Naturally, I deactivated my FB account (I only had 7 friends, anyhow), but I need help figuring out how to deal with knowing I am no longer the person he needs to tell things to. In summary - how do you become a mom for an adult who doesn't want or need you anymore?

If he didn't want or need you anymore, he would have just left his Facebook settings alone and not cared what you saw.

What he wants and needs now is room to become himself. His choosing things "he knows would bother me" might as well just spell out in a (very long) Hollywood-type sign that he has gone from pleasing Mommy to distinguishing himself from Mommy. That's an important and necessary phase for someone who isn't yet sure how to make choices for himself, independent of you or any other influential person in his life. 

So let him do it. Don't take that process, or any of the individual choices he makes within it, personally. He needs to create  an artificial vacuum to be able to see himself clearly. Handle this period gracefully, without pressuring him, and he'll be able to come back to you sooner.

Hi Carolyn, I have a very well paying job that I don't hate, but I'm SO bored and unmotivated. I've built a life around this salary (mortgage, car, vacation, etc), but I keep wondering if I settled to quickly and never got a chance to find a career that I'm passionate about (I'm in my early 30's). Is it too late? How do I start over exploring new opportunities without losing some of what I built. I would happily take a pay cut to be more fulfilled in my job, but what if I lose the salary and I'm still not happy?

Why don't you give yourself a deadline, say, one year, to find work that's a better fit (doesn't have to be a complete overhaul; you could be in the same job in a more creatively inclined environment and have a completely different experience). In that year, you will:

-Save every penny you can. Dispatch bad debt (car), trim luxury expenses, stay local during your time off. Restructure whatever part of your lifestyle you can both to recapture some of that money and to get accustomed to living on less, so that you're ready if and when a career change comes with a pay cut.

-Do your homework on a career change. If you can afford a career coach, that might be worthwhile, as might a call to your school's career office. The quality of these can range from useless to life-changing, so I can't easily declare, try X. (I'll gladly take suggestions from the nutterati, though.) Think macro--"What have I always loved to do, and been good at?"--and micro--"What changes can I make right now that would affect my professional quality of life?" Sometimes, as I said, a small tweak from, say, this department to that one, can make all the difference.

So can adjusting the ways you use your time outside of work. Not everyone has a passion-centered work life. Hardly. More often, people derive enough meaning from the life around their work that they're fine with what they have to do to finance that life. 

I have my doubts, I should say in the interest of full disclosure, that passions can be found during a methodical search for them. Instead I think it's a matter of just making the best choices for you at any given opportunity, and being open to where these take you.

If I were the OP, I think I'd be talking with Husband about what he thinks about what "Shady" is doing. Seems a good opportunity to talk to each other about what you think marriage is all about and specifically what your marriage is all about. I can see Husband still being Shady's friend and not entirely approving of what he's doing and his motivation, but if Husband sees absolutely no problem with it, I'd worry.

I had to chuckle at this. Dave Barry has a fantastic line about the Swedish bikini team just waiting to drop in and the guy wants to be single just for that moment. Heh. If it helps, every single person I've ever known who has uttered this phrase has never, ever found what they're looking for. There's always a newer, shinier thing out there. That will never stop. These are always the same people that look at relationships as "settling." Quite the false dichotomy there.

The only benefit to telling the wife is that she can be on the lookout for financial issues. A neighbor of my mother's was forewarned that her husband was cheating and may be preparing to leave. She looked into bank accounts and realized he had been moving money to accounts in just his name. He also had lawyers at the ready. This women is going to be blindsided and totally emotionally drained while her husband already as lawyers and is preparing for a custody fight. She needs to know.

Hi Carolyn, You answered my letter yesterday (about the 20lbs). Thanks. It was very helpful. I think some of my hang-ups do come from past experience: my first boyfriend (first real relationship, first sex, first I love you) told me that I 'wasn't pretty enough' and though I've worked through it in therapy I find it loitering around in there like some bad influence in front of the town Wal-Mart. I do yoga all the time and work out and so on. I think your advice was spot on, and helpful particularly because it made me realize how much I've still had that hateful piece of toxicity rumbling around my head, informing things. What's the best way to get it out? Or does previous advice apply?

The previous advice applies, yes, but wow--what a nasty thing to have haunting you, I'm sorry.

What amazes me is how we tend to allow these things into our consciousness as Truth, instead of calmly and convincingly impeaching their source. I saw two things immediately as I read your post: 1. Maybe you weren't "pretty," but he wasn't kind, and of the two supposed shortcomings here, his was the one a person can control. Plus, over time we become immune in a way to a person's appearance, familiar to the point of not seeing, but true warmth and kindness never get old.

2. Could he possibly have done a better job of exposing himself as a "me" guy, in so few words, than he did with "You're not pretty enough"? In four words (five, word nerds, if you count a contraction as two), he not only declared himself good-looking and therefore deserving of good-looking women, a specious connection unto itself, but also implied that he was somehow an objective judge of looks. We all on some level know this, of course, that a passerby might easily look at you two and find your looks appealing and his kind of meh, because that's exactly the kind of room subjectivity leaves. Nevertheless knowing this never seems to prevent a negative review of our appearance from arriving with the force of a worldwide consensus.

He's just one person, with just one opinion, and not a nice person at that.

Mentally repeat as needed. 

 

Maybe the litmus test is - If the person *always* makes it all about them and every disappointment in their life is supposed to be a major issue for everyone, then they don't really deserve your full sympathy. But, if whoever it is is generally supportive of others, not self-centered but is hit particularly hard by whatever it is (infertility, not getting a job they really wanted, etc... etc...) you could just cut them some slack. Everyone has something that comes along in their life that causes them a great disappointment, and just because their "thing" wouldn't be your thing doesn't mean they don't deserve some sympathy. That PLUS extra consideration for the hormonal impact - should help any decide if they should or should not give people some leeway.

Well said, thank you.

It's funny in a not really laughable way, but both of the guys I have been in serious relationships with used that line with me. One guy - over a decade - would point out all the pretty girls in a room and how I didn't measure up. The only comment on my appearance the second guy ever told me was that I was just pretty enough. Now my female friends (and some male ones) have told me over and over and over that I am very attractive, but having no data from guys that said they loved me does screw one up rather spectacularly. So, really - I'm just sharing that you are not alone.

My son went the smoking / tattoo route after he left home, via the military vice college. Five years later, he is married, gave up smoking / tattoos, and lets me lurk on his FB page. OP, the phase your son is in - this too shall pass. . .

I was the baby of the family by a big margin. My college era in my 20s was pretty rough where my mom was concerned. I made a lot of life choices she didn't like. The fact that I got a lot more disapproval than praise did little but make me avoid interacting with her. There was never a time when I made a choice because I thought it would upset her. I've done what I've done in my life because it's what I felt was right for me. CH said it but I'm reiterating: What he's doing is about HIM. It has nothing at all to do with you. The sooner that you internalize that and start showing him respect as an adult, the sooner you can start fixing your relationship. Additionally, find something to occupy your time that isn't him. Make plans with friends, get a hobby, join a social group. My mom had kids under her roof for 30 years straight. It took some time for her to realize she had to build an identify as someone other than just so-and-so's mom.

From what I've witnessed, most sons start wanting more to do with their family members again after leaving school. It's tough to watch your kids become adults, but if you treat them like you trust them to make good decisions, they'll be more likely to turn to you for advice as they start branching out. If you try to rein them back in, though, they'll find new and more outlandish ways to rebel. It's normal to feel this loss. Feel the feelings, but try to resist the urge to act on them in unhealthy ways. Call or email your son less often, or wait for him to call. Don't beg for details about his life. Practice treating him like a fellow adult, and he'll start recognizing that you're doing so with time.

Hi Carolyn, I'm heading out to visit my parents this weekend with my two kids (ages 5 and 8) this weekend. My uncle, with whom I am not close, has recently had surgery and is currently recuperating at a rehab hospital near my parent's home. He is a nice man, but we are both introverts and just haven't developed much of a relationship (he married into the family). My question is, should I go visit him in the rehab hospital? If I do, should I take the kids? Since we are not close, it feels strange to go, but he is family, so it feels unkind not to. Thank you!

Either call him to ask or inquire through channels whether he wants visits; also ask if there's anything he needs to keep him occupied, or if there's a food from "outside" that he's been craving. These two questions will tell you whether to visit under the pretext of delivering something (which means you don't have to stay long), or to drop something off for him without visiting. Even if you get a "no" to needing anything, drop off a small somethingorother anyway.

Bringing the kids will actually help defuse any tension, as long as they're not hyper or handsy and can put in a calm 10 minutes in that setting. If the 5 is a little squirmy, bring the 8 only. good luck.

[online only, please, thank you.] Thank you so much for your response and thank you also to all the other people who responded. It was nice to hear that I have my head on straight. I'm sorry if I worried anyone. I shall probably talk to my priest, or the guidance counselor at my school, when I manage to get the time. I know eventually I will have to get over fear of my father as it has spread now to fear of other peoples', but I just...can't. Most of the time, I tell myself it's not that bad and I can just move out when it's legal, but im rather like Pavlov's dog now and I cry whenever anyone raises their voice to me. I just really, really, really don't want to be like him, or marry someone like him. But I can see it in me already and that scares me. Thank you again for your response, I will be talking to an adult at some point.

You're welcome, and please don't delay on finding good support. I understand completely that you're adult-shy because of this, and that's probably holding you back to a degree, but I also don't think that's the worst thing. You -should- be careful in choosing someone to confide in, so embrace and trust your natural alarms as a way to rule out someone who isn't right for the job of walking you through this. Just don't bend completely to them and keep finding reasons not to make the call or walk to the counselor's office. Make the call, take the walk, today if there's still time.

You don't owe anyone an apology for their/our worries. Our caring about you is not something you imposed on us, it's something we chose, as fellow humans. To identify with you and want better things for you is to enjoy a fuller, more collective form of humanity, which is a good thing even when it hurts.

As for seeing your father's traits in yourself, that's the other side of the same coin. We all have the capacity to take many different paths, good, bad, neutral and mixed. The behavior of others helps us see which paths we want to be on and which to avoid. Keep taking good care of yourself, however you can under the circumstances, and as you get better at that with time and experience, I expect you'll start to see ways you can take good care of others.

 

I totally second the notion to look at things outside of work that stir your passions. I think a lot of us were sold a bill of goods when we were young that our careers had to be something that we were passionate about. My parents certainly sang that line! And the guidance counselor in high school. And the career people at college. Hell, it came up at the graduation speech. Well, all the things I love to do wouldn't pay! Or if they do, they only pay well to a very small number of people in a very narrow field, and I like to eat and have a roof over my head. Seriously - how many motorcycle travelogues can the market support? So I do a job I'm not passionate about (but don't hate, that's critical) so I can pay for all those things I love to do (bike road trips, for instance). Also, I'm pretty sure that if writing motorcycle travelogues became my work, I'd grow dispassionate about it since I'd have to spend so much time doing it. Look for a way to make those hours between work and sleep what you are most passionate about and you might be able to find a way to have your cake and eat it too.

Pretty sure some people put down their sigificant others in this way as a means of contol too. "You are not in my class so you better do what I want, need, expect." LW may be gorgeous and just be believing old boyfriends BS.

Yes, sounds right, thanks. And this:

...is pretty much by-the-book standard emotional manipulation. Same as the OP, my first love/sex/whole-nine-yards boyfriend did all the same to me, without the kindness to leave the "and I'm attractive enough to get anyone I want, so you're lucky to have ~wonderful me~" as an unsaid implication. I will echo CH and the nutterati when I say that will mess you up in a big way, and it is very, very hard to let go of that. My following two relationships were gems like, "you know, you'd be really pretty if you lost some weight!" and "well, maybe no one else will think you're beautiful, but...", so I am still getting used to the relationship of now where my partner actually seems to believe the nice things he says about me. You're not alone, and there are lots of us Not Pretty Enoughs rooting for you, OP :)

This choked me up. 

a few years ago, I was in a similar situation work-wise. (not thrilled with my job, but it was "good enough" and supported a fun lifestyle.) I adopted a mantra that I would do one thing every day to find a new job and one thing every day to make my current job better. the "thing" could be tiny: for the job search - sending an email to a friend/acquaintance/former colleague about career planning or looking on a job/career website for 5 minutes; and for making the current job better - having a friendly encounter with someone outside my normal orbit or chatting up a colleague to get a better sense of what he/she was working on (with a mind to whether I was interested/could get involved in it, but often just as information). It took eighteen months, and I didn't actually do something every day toward the goal, but I eventually found a job that was a much better fit, "passion"-wise. Still the same field and skill set, but public service-oriented. And when I eventually left the initial job, I was actually much happier there than I had been before I made the concerted effort.

Great advice in this, thanks.

I work in a pretty specialized government job that, to an outside observer, looks like a lot of charts and gobbledy-gook. I want to be able to talk about my day with my wife, but whenever I do, I see her eyes glaze over. She swears that she's interested in my work, but she says that when she asks me a straightforward question, I answer with a 15-minute monologue. (I'll admit that -- but it's because I want her to understand what my work is really like, and sometimes it requires a lot of preamble and explanation). Do you or the nuts have tips on how I can get better at this? It's frustrating to feel like she's not interested in my work, when I'm always interested in hers. Then again, she's a kindergarten teacher, so her days often involve funny finger paint anecdotes.

When people ask you about your work, they're not asking you about the work, they're asking you about the experience you had with it. So, you had a great moment with X, you have been working 18 months on Y and the mere mention of Y can anesthetize a room, let me tell you about Colleague Z ...

Think characters, not charts.

Hi Carolyn! Love the chats, and hope you can help. I adore my older sister, but she is married to someone I find difficult. His personality is not a match for mine, but much larger than that is he was inappropriate to me from when I was 13 through my early twenties. Nothing he could get arrested for- he would 'accidentally' touch my rear end or chest, ask very inappropriate questions, once even made a model of genitalia and showed it to me and many other things. They had daughters who I also adore and I kept a VERY close eye on them in case. Thankfully, nothing has seemed amiss and they are adults now. These days I manage to be civil and sometimes fairly friendly- he was raised very badly and I can see he isn't all bad. He has also mellowed out quite a bit as he's aged. Problem: I have kids now and my sister wants them to spend the night with their favorite aunt, as her kids did with me, and me and my husband, hundreds of times. I just can't see me ever allowing that, but at some point it's going to be more than just awkward. They're just reaching the age now where they'd like to and I don't know how much longer I can make excuses. My sister knows of a few instances but made excuses back then and it immediately was a non-topic, and she is absolutely one who would cut me off forever if I just said hey, hubby isn't someone I have good memories of, so no thanks. I don't know if I think he'd be inappropriate with children (I think he saw me as more of an extension of my sister) but I don't think I'd ever be ok with taking that chance. I can't imagine I'm overreacting, or am I? Mama Bear

"she is absolutely one who would cut me off forever if I just said hey, hubby isn't someone I have good memories of, so no thanks." That's awful on top of the awful of a decade of this guy's harassment. 

It also severely limits what you can do to:

1. Letting your kids stay in this man's house overnight. Not acceptable. You have this protective impulse for a reason. Maybe you're wrong about what would happen, but you can't take that chance.

2. Saying no and saying why, and losing your relationship with your sister. Maybe you're wrong about how your sister would respond, but you can't take that chance--not unless the alternative is to take the bigger chance of handing over your kids for this sleepover.

3. Continuing with the excuses and hoping either the invitations stop or Sis never calls you out.

Nothing great there, but of the three I think continuing to decline each invitation for this reason or that is the most rational approach. Every choice costs you something, and No. 3 both costs the least and buys you time. 

 

So much in the post was familiar to me. There were only a few small details that seemed off. The description of the father's behavior, though, sounds exactly like my ex. He's temperamental, explosive, controlling and extremely narcissistic. Since our divorce, the kids lives have been a lot easier, but I can tell that their visits with him are often stressful, but they don't say much about what goes on. I really want to be supportive of my kids and help them deal with him, but I also feel I need to be careful so I don't end up with my ex accusing me of just meddling and bad mouthing him. So up until now I haven't said much about their father to them. However, recently I was approached by my adult step daughter who was very upset about some of my ex's behavior, and she's really concerned that my kids, her siblings, recognize that his behavior is not all normal. And then I read last week's post. It was heartbreaking to me, even if it isn't my daughter. Now I feel that I really need to open a dialogue with my kids about their dad and not wait for them to talk to me about it (if they ever do). But I'm worried about appearing as if I'm just trying to bad mouth him. Any advice on how to handle this?

Look at what this 15-year-old is crying out for, and what I'm recommending: an objective adult who can offer support, perspective and -validation.- The hard part for the OP is to find this as a minor without the help of parents.

You, the parent, can go out and find this person to help your kids. Start shopping for a skilled, reputable family therapist, and fill him or her in on the situation. You might be in a tough spot, since you need to get along with your ex to keep the shared custody arrangements, but a mental-health professional has no such obligation. Give your kids this resource, this safe place. Don't do it just because they need it, but also because someday it's going to occur to them--if it hasn't already--to ask why you didn't do a better job of protecting them from their dad. This way, you can explain how your hands were tied, and how you worked around that via the therapist. 

I also suggest you Google "reflective listening," which can help your kids feel heard and supported without your offering negative reviews of Dad--or of anyone. "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk" is a longer-form analysis of this skill.

I was innocently browsing a popular site for nude selfies and by complete coincidence recognized my cousin. I'm thinking I should tell her to cover up her face. She has a baby and a husband. Maybe a job too. Would even an anonymous note just be too embarrassing for her? I don't want to crush her lovely spirit over this but i don't know how to say it right. She never seemed remotely kinky before, but whatever. Her straight Christian mom would freak out. I'd like to avoid that.

She is an adult. How is this your business? Why can't she show her body if she wants to show her body?

Maybe if you had some reason to believe her picture was used without her permission, then you would be right to speak up, but with the facts on hand you're merely implying that reputable women still need chaperones.  So I'll answer that for you: No.

"Innocently." How awesome is that.

I'd be inclined in this case to ask my husband to assert that he is the one not giving permission. That preserves the sister relationship; she can just say, "Hey, what can I do? He is overprotective and doesn't want his little darlings away from home."

Interesting idea, thanks.

Also, have a talk -- or another talk, if you've already done so once or more -- with your own kids re what to do should *anyone* perform unacceptable behavior in their presence, because even if you never let them sleep over at your sister's and his house, he sounds liable to do something inappropriate even in merely a visiting mode.

Even if she's wrong about him, it is of course a problem they, all kids, boys and girls, need to be prepared to deal with anyway. Thanks.

If he's actually gotten better in the (presumably) decades since, is it possible to sit down alone with him and discuss what he did and gauge whether or not he is still the same man he was years ago and poses the same risk? Given the nieces turned out fine, sometimes people (thankfully) do change. Not a defense of the man, but more that the years may have created a fourth option that didn't exist in your 20s or 30s.

I actually thought about this, but ruled it out because I couldn't figure out what I could hear that would erase my legitimate fears so completely. Or, to put it a different way, if I had that conversation and got the assurance I was looking for, then allowed a sleepover at which something inappropriate happened, I would never forgive myself.

I realize not every bad thing can be prevented, but look at the two risks that are facing off here: It's the risk of harm to the kids, vs. the risk of destroying the bond with a sister. Assuming neither risk is exaggerated, as in, both are well supported by fact and precedent, the parent has to absorb the emotional loss on behalf of the kids. It's not a contest.

... And that's before we even get into the fact of the sister's tuning out the past complains about this man, and potentially severing the tie over being told the truth about them now. You don't choose to appease the sib who failed to look out for you back when it mattered.

Kids can withstand frank, dispassionate discussion about the other parent. That is not the same as bad-mouthing. My ex is time-challenged, forgetful, and clueless about many things. Now that the kid is older, ex might not talk to the kid for weeks on end. You think our kid doesn't notice this?! Of course he does! IMO it's better to talk about it -- the *behaviors* -- and let the kid brainstorm strategies for dealing with those behaviors or help the kid place the behaviors in their proper context.

If it's ok for you to look at porn, it's ok for her to post her porn.

You forget, OP's looking was innocent.

I’m married to someone who had verbally abusive father and a passive mother. He would have greatly benefited from someone telling him that his father’s behavior was wrong. Instead, his mother and relatives said things like “he really does love you” and “that’s just the way he is,” etc. Although they might have had good intentions, it is sort of crazy-making when someone flips reality on you. It can also affect your ability to relate to others in later relationships and what you think is appropriate conduct. And although my husband’s mother was also a victim, my husband in some ways faults his mother more than he faults his father. Even if she couldn’t have changed her husband’s behavior, she could have validated her son’s feelings.

Never underestimate the power of, "Yes, that was crappy, and I'm sorry you had to deal with that."

Re: " someone telling him that his father’s behavior was wrong." I don't want anyone to blow past an important element of your phrasing: You label the behavior as wrong vs. the person.

I am standing in your wife's shoes and, while Carolyn is spot on about people making better conversations than workflow, perhaps I can add another suggestion. My husband also works in a very technical field where every (excruciating) detail truly matters and he used to talk about his day by painstakingly recreating it for me so that I would also fully appreciate every bit of context and nuance. (Hint: It didn't work.) It took time and some loving but honest conversations, but I have finally given him to understand what the word "summary" means and we are both so much happier. Try using your commute to mentally recap your day so you can give your wife a lively (but impressionistic) sketch rather than a massive photo-realistic recreation of the major points and let the rest go. Trust me when I say that she doesn't need every detail to appreciate your experience. You must have co-workers, so learn to rely on some of them if you still need full work-related understanding. Please.

If you haven't been there, you have no idea what you're talking about. Carolyn doesn't give people license to wail in public, blame others, or cause a scene. The question is, can someone occasionally bow out of an event that is emotionally grueling precisely because she didn't want to cause a scene by starting to cry at a happy event. Please develop a little empathy for other people's struggles.

This is such an important part of the infertility journey. Thank you for saying it. Speaking from experience: There's so much that comes with hormone treatments, from fatigue and aches and pains to irrational mood swings. The grief is real too and I'm not dismissing it. But that grief is all exacerbated by the hormones. A normal sane person can become incredibly irrational. Think PMS x 20, with a bonus dose of grief and loneliness. (There are very few people who understand what you are going through. Most people want you to "get over it". It's very isolating.) I'm also using this as an opportunity to submit "Hopped Up On Artificial Hormones" as the title of the chat. :-)

And with that, I call out for other chat title suggestions and sign off for today. Thanks everybody, have a great weekend, hope to see you here next week.

WAIT! One more thing ...

Another reminder about Date Lab Live! at the Newseum Feb. 9: LINK to information HERE. 

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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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