Carolyn Hax Live: 'Autonomy is my drug of choice'

Jun 01, 2018

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 everybody, happy Friday. Blah day here but it still feels like I should be doing summer things* instead of chatty things. Let's see how this whole focus thing goes.

 

*Like watching ice hockey.

[From last week: LINK]

God, that's such a hard question. I certainly want us both to stop being so sad. I feel like we've learned/are learning a lot about how we got to the place we're in, but I don't know if too much time has passed. I felt lonely for a long time and eventually found my way on my own (within the marriage). I've tried to explain it as a wound that hurt for a while and then healed. But I do love him very much. And he's a good man. So...

So ... okay. Still not one specific thing like, "I am irritated at him all the time because of X, Y and Z," or, "He used to listen to me but now just seems tuned out," or, "His politics offend me/My politics offend him," or, "We just don't have anything in common," and therefore not one specific thing you've set as a goal, like listening better, not being defensive, sharing workloads better, respecting each other's interests and needs.

That leaves me only with general ideas. One of them being that "too much time has passed" is not a standard that's meaningful to me. Either you have dealt successfully with the things that got you two in trouble, or you have not succeeded. Either you still love, like and appreciate each other enough after this process to build a marriage you want to be in, or you don't any more. These are factors of what you actually have, not of how long it took you to get it.

At this point (and without more info), the question I'd be asking myself in your position is: What am I waiting for? Either there's something more that you want, something concrete, or there isn't. You can either inhabit your marriage happily as it is now, or you can't. 

If there's nothing else coming, or at least nothing else you're expecting, then I suggest making the decision to live in this marriage as is and make something happy of it. All in. 

You'll find out soon enough whether this is where you'd like to stay.

Good Morning Carolyn, My sister Jane has been seeing Jack barely three months. They live in different states and Jack regularly visits Jane on the weekends, sometimes they travel together. During this time Jack has exhibited some low level controlling behaviors (getting upset when Jane goes three hours without answering a text, when Jane has a drink with friends, when Jane fails to Facetime him morning and night, etc.). Additionally, Jack has been trying to convince Jane to move to his state. When Jane expresses that this is too much too fast or that she doesn't really want to move to Jack's state, Jack replies the he will make Jane happy and she will like it once she gets there. Recently, Jane clearly expressed to Jack that she was feeling rushed in the relationship and asked him for a three day break from texting, Facetiming, etc. Jack could not do this can continued to text Jane repeatedly. When Jane did not respond, Jack called Jane's roommate (not a mutual friend of theirs). Jane told Jack that this was a concerning boundary violation. Long story (with lots of long texts from Jack) short, Jane phoned Jack and told him that this was not the type of relationship that she wanted, that he was not respecting her clearly expressed boundaries, and that the relationship was over. Jane told Jack not to come visit her this weekend. Jack bought a ticket anyway and informed Jane via text that he was coming to her city even though she asked him not to. Now the part that involves me, Jane has asked for my advice along the way about how to handle Jack's concerning behaviors. At first, I saw some red flags but wasn't too worried. Now, I am becoming somewhat concerned about Jane's safety. Am I overreacting? I don't want to be too forceful with my advice, but my gut is telling me that there is a chance (however small) that my sister may be in danger. How would you advise your sister? Sincerely, Protective Older Sister

Yikes. I'd suggest strongly that Jane not be home for Jack's visit. She can go stay with a local friend, leave town, come to visit you, anything. Just not be available to Jack.

If When Jack gets in touch with Jane to rage about her absence, Jane needs to respond clearly in writing that she stated that she didn't want Jack to visit this weekend; his ignoring her boundaries is not acceptable; she is not interested in a relationship; and he is not to contact her anymore. 

Then she needs to make sure she doesn't respond to him again. 

"The Gift of Fear" is required reading, and if she starts today it'll help her this weekend. 

No, you are not overreacting.

I have a middle school daughter who is doing well in general and has a group of friends at school. I like most of these girls, but one in particular has a habit of singling out one or more of the others girls (often my daughter) to say mean or dismissive things like "no one cares" or "no one likes you." My daughter is not sure what to do about this, and neither am I. She doesn't care to be friends with this girl anymore, but since they are all friends in a group, she feels like if she leaves the group she will lose all the friends, not just the one. She's also afraid if she speaks up more that the girl will be even meaner (and there is some precedent to think she is right about this). She says the other girls don't like it either, but no one really wants to speak up because when someone does, they get the negative attention. I think involving the school or the girl's parents would only make things worse. I'm looking for advice on what I can do to bolster my daughter in this situation. Obviously we are encouraging her to branch out and make friends in other contexts, but this is a challenge because they participate in a lot of the same things and it's a small community. I'm really glad she trusts me and tells me things, and she also knows (intellectually) that this is more about the other girl than her. But still, it's hard. Thoughts?

Ugh. So, because everyone's afraid this girl will erupt, she can hold an entire peer group and their parents hostage with the verbal equivalent of a butter knife.

You're right of course about the likely escalation if your daughter or another friend "speak[s] up," and that's certainly also a risk if you get the school or the girl's parents involved. But that's only half the calculation. The bully herself will escalate if allowed to keep taking hostages without any peer or community resistance. And of course her emotional deficits will only worsen the longer they're left unaddressed, as will the consequences of them--to her as much as to anyone else.

So all of you have to do your parts--you, your daughter, the peers, the parents of the peers, the school.

Your daughter's part: See that the girl's weapon is just a butter knife and *shrug it off.* 

Bully: "no one cares"

Daughter: [shrug] "Okay." [return to whatever she was doing]

Bully: "no one likes you"

Daughter: [shrug] "Okay." [return to whatever she was doing]

This is dead simple and extremely difficult to do. But it's both an acquirable and highly badass skill. Role-play it with her. 

She will do this with maximum credibility if she's ready to walk from the whole group. It sounds as if she's not, but it also sounds as if she needs to be. It's hard for a middle schooler (maybe harder than for anyone else) to recognize that it's better to be lonely than a hostage, but start prepping her for that just in case.

Your part: Talk to the parents of the other kids in this group. Be a fact-finder, though, not a pot-stirrer--this is really important. "Do you know [Bully's] story? The stuff she says makes me think there's a lot of unhappiness there." Then, take whatever information you get to the school. "I'm concerned about [Bully], and the effect she has on this group of girls. No doubt you've seen this kind of thing before. [Yes, they have.] What kinds of things work well in these situations?" Note, you're not asking them to do X, Y or Z. You are asking for their expertise--which can then lead to a discussion of possible remedies. In most cases, at least, you have more control than just choosing between unleashing or not unleashing authorities on a delicate situation.

(more)

 

The role of other peers and other peer parents is beyond your scope, of course, but you can advocate for the idea of forming a compassionate firewall. It would be preferable if these girls decided on their own to stand up to this girl, yes, and even drive her off if she won't renounce the antisocial behaviors. But as long as they choose to keep including her, you and the other parents can join together in guided inclusion, where you keep an eye on gatherings that include this girl and intervene where warranted. With any luck she is acting out because she's in pain and some guided, supervised acceptance will be enough to ease it somewhat. 

If she crosses lines from there, then you can and should say no to having her in your home. 

I've got a couple of other carry-overs from last week, which I just happened to see when I was looking for the follow up that I posted earlier:

[From last week: LINK]

I gently suggest that this OP re-frame this situation. As the single mother of a daughter, I was shocked and even hurt when I found out how little time my child had for me on drop-off day. In fact, it turned out that the college planned it that way, to nudge the parents out the door. That's fine when two parents have each other to sit with during the day and drive home with. It's not so fine for solo parents who are handling this transition alone. And the pattern continues: you can spend a lot of money and/or time go all the way to college for an event (a game, a play) and find that you actually get about 15 minutes of your child's time. If you think of Auntie as a companion for yourself, you may find yourself resenting her less and appreciating her more, even if you don't find her particularly simpatico.

Excellent point, thank you.

[From last week: LINK]

Hello again! I'm the OP who wrote in last week asking how to discuss finances with my mom, who I'm living with. Thank you for answering my question. After reading your and the 'nuts advice, and submitting my question to Michelle Singletary, I think the main issue is my mom and I just butt heads over our different priorities. I love to travel. If I could, I'd go somewhere new every month. My mom, on the other hand, likes to be comfortable, so she'll spend her money on quality clothes and other items like that. Not a wrong choice, just not what I would do. For what it's worth, I have no problem giving my brother my car. I just don't want to replace it with the newer models she's pushing me to buy, and I don't want to cancel planned trips I have coming up this winter. My parents are divorced, and since I don't live with my dad (who has no issue with how I spend my money) my mom's opinions take precedent. I love her, but how can I tell her that even though we're just not on the same page priorities-wise, I won't waste the time I live with her rent-free? There's gotta be a polite and kind way to do so, but I feel like I'd be insulting how she spends her money.

Q: "my mom and I just butt heads." "how can I tell her that ..."

A: You can't! You just can't. That's what head-butting is. It's a sign that you're both looking for a win on an issue from an opponent who has also dug in for a win. 

So the only answer is to stop explaining yourself. It's your life anyway, so you don't have to.

There also aren't magic words that will unfix your mother's mind from cars and clothes, which are her idea of success or security or whatever else she wants for you so powerfully. You're at the point of needing a Last Word on This Subject, followed by a repertoire of warm and loving deflections.

The Last Word has to be in your own voice, of course, but here's the structure you're looking for:

1. Acknowledge she wants the best for you.

2. Say you appreciate this, and also all she has done for you

3. Assure her it's okay for her now to trust that she did a good job of raising you, because she did.

4. Acknowledge that you don't have everything figured out and you'll make some mistakes, but that the greatest gift she can give you now is to let you figure things out your way. Because developing your own strength is the way you're going to succeed, not by trying to make her strengths fit you.

It's not impossible that this stops the flow of suggestions and corrections. Maybe just unlikely.

And if it doesn't, then that's where the warm deflections come in. "Thanks, Mom." "I'll keep that in mind." "Interesting idea." Followed by no further discussion of the topic at hand.

... and moving out as soon as you can afford it.

I've been feeling really dissatisfied with my life lately. I am a married woman with two elementary aged sons, and I will be turning 42 this year. I've often felt that I do way more to help the three of them than they do to help me (understandable with kids, frustrating with a husband), but lately it's gotten much worse. I've been feeling as though my life would be so much better if I wasn't around them. Without them, I don't know what my life would look like, but it wouldn't look like this. I feel horrible feeling like this-- what kind of a mother longs for a life without her kids? I should feel lucky; there are so many people who dream for this life. But it dawned on me yesterday, maybe this is just a midlife crisis, which is normal and people get through. What do you think, is this a normal phase or something else? How do people get through this, without leaving their family, which I wouldn't do?

"I'm tired of being dumped on and taken for granted. What's wrong with me?"

How about: Nothing.

Your life is out of balance. That's not about midlife or bad mothering or excessive good luck or whatever else you're reaching for. It's just about the fact that your life is taking more out of you than it is giving back. That's normal and fixable and best fixed soon before it causes bigger problems, like wanting out of your marriage or family entirely because anger is the only feeling you have left and you finally grasp that's not sustainable.

So, while you still have some elements of yourself that you still recognize, figure out what they need to get stronger. Think small at first, for a couple of reasons: 1. They offer near-instant relief. A small change is one you can make right now or in the next few days, and so you can see right away if it helps. 2. It is less disruptive to make small changes and work your way up to bigger changes only after it's clear you need something bigger.

Because it's about balance, organize your life into two columns, things that restore and things that deplete. You need to take away things that deplete and add things that restore. So, let's say chores are on the "deplete" side. What is a fair division of labor with your spouse, do you think? Can you sit down with him to figure that out? And can you each take responsibility for things you're better at, to make the load feel lighter?

And can you completely drop the things on his list, so that if he doesn't do them, then no one does? If you have to, distribute jobs that way. People who step in for an under-invested partner get depleted faster.

Also look to your kids for things to cross off from the "deplete" side. It takes more work upfront to make sure they gain the necessary skills, but kids can and should contribute proportionately to the running of a household. It's healthy for them.

When you think of things that restore, put them on your calendar in regular time slots and treat them as sacred. Tuesday evenings, you go to ____ class. Sundays, you sleep in. Etc.

If you get pushback (oh my goodness I hope not), then make it clear you are in serious burnout territory and this is not optional. 

While you are tinkering with interventions of gradually increasing size, please also find yourself a skilled therapist, if your area isn't starved for them and you're able to afford it. Depression is a sneaky business, and you could easily already have it or be on your way to it. And even if not, there are probably some answers or ideas you could for your marriage. Something for the "restore" side, either way.

Dear Carolyn: My daughter, Belle, and her husband, Ben, are getting divorced. Ben's parents have always said they love Belle, and that if Belle and Ben ever split, they'd keep Belle. Now that B and B are divorcing, his parents have called and left messages - they want to talk. They specifically want us parents to "mediate" and help "the kids" reconcile (kids are in their late 30's!). I do not want to talk to them and think the idea of us parents mediating is ridiculous. My husband isn't sure. What do you think? I'm pretty sure Ben hasn't been honest with his parents about why they are divorcing, and I think it is a terrible idea for us to get involved. Thank you - Not in the Middle Mom

Well, there are two things here. One is getting involved, which I agree is a terrible idea ... no, wretched. It's a wretched idea.

... and the other is talking to Ben's parents. You can do the latter without doing the former.

If you don't want to, then, fine, but it might be useful to Belle and Ben for you to express to these parents clearly that you do not think it's your place to "mediate" or anything else. 

If you do have this conversation, then you don't want to touch the real-reason-they're-divorcing thing, so I suggest you keep it brief. As needed: "What goes on between any couple is something only the couple themselves really know." 

Years ago I had leukemia and doctors thought I would need a bone marrow transplant. As it turned out, I responded so well to chemotherapy that I did not need a transplant. During the time I thought I would need one, family, friends and even people I barely knew volunteered to donate marrow to me and got tested to see if they would be a match. However, my father refused. The only reason he's ever given was, "I don't feel comfortable with that." I find that the older I get, the more angry and disappointed I am by my father's actions, and the less interested I am in ever helping him as he gets older and may need assistance for health-related reasons. Do you think it's reasonable for me to just let him know I will be unavailable to assist him as he made himself unavailable for me? Or do I need to be the bigger person and help him where I can?

Maybe he knows he's not your biological father, and didn't want you to find out?

I hope that's a laughable and soooo-not-possible possibility vs. a bomb drop, but it was the first thing that crossed my mind.

Or he has a chronic illness or other medical condition he doesn't want you to know about that disqualifies him as a donor?

Idunno. It seems to me there's too much you don't know to support a declaration that you're unavailable to help him if he's ever in need. He could have had a terrible and selfish reason to turn you down, yes, but he also could have had a good one that he prefers, or preferred then, to keep to himself.

You could certainly ask again, now that years have passed. Let him know his saying no gnaws at you to this day and you struggle to understand it, and would he be willing to share more about his reasons?

But I don't recommend this if it's just going to give you something new to be upset about. Broach it only if you can see it as a chance for him to know how you feel and maybe patch things up, and if you're ready for "I don't feel comfortable with that" to remain his only answer.

Either way, where there's room for doubt there's room for forgiveness, and forgiveness is a gift you receive by giving it. If you can't, then you can't, but it might be worth a try. 

 

Any guidance on how to limit kids screen time when the horse is already out of the barn. My 10 and 14 year olds spend too much time on their computers/phones, and the time they don't spend plugged in typically requires battles. I know we got ourselves, and the kids, into this situation, so how do we implement limits that are easy to track and don't feel like a punishment to the kids? Should I wait and pick this battle up when school starts again?

Yikes, no, don't throw the whole summer out just as it's starting.

Have a family meeting. Bring your kids into the decision, instead of handing it down from above. If needed, educate them on the hazards of too much screen time. Don't attack screens, attack excess. Excess is bad with just about everything, so it's useful that way. It's even better if you can show your kids in the moment what happens when they overindulge, like headaches or bickering.

What you're looking for is a workable, rational set of limits the kids propose themselves. That means asking enough questions to get you the answers you can all live with, so don't be afraid to ask about other things they like to do--or even ask what they want to do this summer. If they want to do X and Y, then they will have to stop playing Fortnite long enough to allow that.

Another thing I probably should have said first: You're the parents. It's your horse, your barn, and you can get the horse and lock it back in just because that's what you want to do. The family-meeting approach isn't about authority, it's about buy in. You're the last word regardless--it'll just be easier if the kids come around to a solution themselves.

BTW: One simple approach is to govern start and end times. They can start using screens only after [a time of day or amount of chores or homework or reading]; they can use them only X hours per weekday and Y on weekends; and they have to be off by Z o'clock. And screen free zones are key--dinner table, their bedrooms at night, x percent of car trips, when you have company. 

 

Dear Carolyn, My sister has the good fortune to be married to a man who not only earns most of the money (and quite a bit of it), but also sees to the management of the household in both big and small ways (for example, he chooses their investments, and he also takes her car in when it needs to be serviced). They are happy, and I consider her very lucky. How do I tell her she comes off as smug when she says things like "I don't know how I'd make it without James"--implying that those of us who have to play an active role in managing our own lives (partnered or not) are unfortunate suckers?

I think this is just hitting a sore spot of yours, no? When I hear, "I don't know how I'd make it without James," I think, "That's pretty sad," because autonomy is my drug of choice.

I speak only for myself, obviously, but at least think carefully why it comes off as smug to you, vs. sad or dependent or wistful or whatever else, before you say anything. 

And then if you do say anything, try, "When you say things like 'I don't know how I'd make it without James,' I feel like a sucker for having to play an active role in managing my own life. Am I reading you wrong?"

Well, this was a strange one. For most of the chat I have been disconnected from Teddy, which means I'm not seeing any responses that you guys have sent in, which is why I'm not posting any reactions or comments. I don't like that because I count on your sharp eyes to help correct or round out my answers on the fly, or to give me a chance to explain myself better in response to an objection. 

But, I have to go now, so this more-flawed-than-usual thing is going into the books as-is. Ehhhh. Unless I'm able to go back in later? We'll see.

Regardless, I am glad you were all here and thank you as always for pitching in, even if the pitching was into a mysterious abyss. Have a great weekend and hope to see you here next week.

 

Wait, here they all are. I'll blast out a few now:

When I hear "I don't know how I'd make it without James" I hear her expressing her appreciation for what James does. Does appreciating one's good fortune out loud make one smug? To me smug would be taking it for granted.

I've been a single parent forever, work full-time, run the household, service the car, cut the grass--the whole shebang. It can be exhausting, but all I hear in the sister's comment about James is someone acknowledging how lucky they are to have someone who helps/handles those tasks and perhaps acknowledging how much her sister possibly has on her plate. It doesn't seem smug to me. It seems like you have to work pretty hard to turn that into "you're a sucker." But, siblings.

You might want to ask your sister if she is prepared to do things if something happens to James. I di everything around the house. Then I had a stroke. Husband didn't even know the bank account number. One year later, we both can manage things if/when something happens.

I just have one kid, but we do have really strict screen time policies (and always have) and I have found it incredibly helpful to my daughter that we have a multitude of other things for her to do. It doesn't have to be paid activities, but we do try to get her outside as much as we can and we spend a lot of time doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku and playing rummy, Scrabble, chess, etc. There's a whole world of stuff to do out there beyond a screen and we have tried to take part in helping her find that stuff. It's fun for us, too!

Yesssss to being proactive. Other hobbies and habits mean the pull isn't so strong.

The book QueenBees and Wannabes by Wiseman is a really excellent guide for parents dealing with this kind of thing. She breaks down the different roles people play in dynamics like she describes, and then talks about how to support your child in seeing what they are doing to keep it going, and how to stop. She also tells parents what they may or may not be doing to support the unhealthy dynamic (parents who are too invested in managing their kid's social life can inadvertently put pressure on their kids that leads to them tolerating things they shouldn't). Added bonus: it's research-based, not just one person's opinion. I wish all of them well!

...and am pleading for a working OT button!

Hi there -- I'm the comments editor here and help produce a few live chats.  It's very, very high on my list to fix and I'm really sorry for the issues. When the OT buttons is fixed, I'll let the community know ASAP.

OP here. I've never witnessed said behavior but I believe my daughter 100%. I doubt any of the other parents have seen it either, including hers. This girl is all sweetness and sugar around adults-- she saves this behavior for peers. I think it's a bid for popularity and a means to keep others in control. My daughter actually does respond now with the shrug. In public. I'm super proud of her, actually. But I know it's bothering her, because she tells me that at home. I've met the other parents and I don't think they would believe anything about their daughter. And I feel confident they would tell her and it would get worse. And yes, middle school just sucks sometimes.

Oh, she's an Eddie Haskell. Those are tough. But part of it is catching it while it happens, so being the host can help; part of it is believing your kid, which you're doing; and most of it is your kid's resilience, so good for her. 

One benefit to middle school is that it all moves so fast. Allegiances change, friend groups dissolve and regroup, kids (often) grow up and get less obnoxious, and it's all over faster than any other stretch of school besides preschool. Yay.

BRAVO for Jane for recognizing this behavior so early, setting boundaries and sticking with them! Sounds like she is an unbelievably emotionally mature and aware individual. Be Like Jane.

You're definitely not over-reacting. Maybe Jack will do nothing, but considering he has not stopped at any of the other "reasonable" checkpoints, I'd be really worried for both your sister and also for her roommate. Things to consider: the roommate might also want to leave for the weekend, and they should take any pets with them (and maybe irreplaceable documents). I would see if I could quickly get a doorbell camera or some type of security camera that backs up to the cloud. If your gut is screaming at you, believe it. Sending you and your sister (and the roommate!) lots of strength. This guy is showing lots of red flags to me, too.

This may be a ridiculous analogy, but I was reading a decluttering book that talked about learning to love the house you’re in, rather than looking with envy or longing at what you don’t have (or, in the case of a house, can’t afford) - and doing so by trying to remedy, as best you can, any perceived deficiencies. So perhaps focus on what seems to be missing, since you can’t identify anything in particular that is wrong - and try to remedy that. I know a marriage isn’t a house, but putting some energy into fixing, or trying to fix, what you have, rather than mourning the past, or dreading the future, might be a worthwhile endeavor.

One thing I've found that works well with my kids is giving them warnings in advance vs just saying "screen time's up, turn them over." This applies both to the overall ("we're going to start cutting back on our screen time") and the immediate ("10 minutes more and I'm taking the tablet away"). It also helps if you give them some control by tying chores or other things into the screen time. "Want more screen time? Clean the garage." That way it's more on them, not you.

I started the discussion by asking them how much time THEY thought they were using electronics each day. Vastly underestimated! They were shocked when I said, 'Well, I paid attention yesterday and from blah to blah blah when you stopped to walk the dog and from blah to whenever... so a total of whatever hours'. My sons were totally surprised. Then I asked THEM to suggest when and how. They were willing to give up carrides w/a single parent, but when both of us were in the car we talked to each other and they were bored. They also volunteered an electronic-free day once a week. Most touchingly, they said they'd give up one night a week in exchange for a game night. It was very revealing how much our presence meant to them and how much our lack of engagement contributed to their tuning us out.

Wow. Thank you.

Our daughter has been living in the apartment over our garage for three years and will be there another three years (graduate school). She turns 33 this summer. When she first moved in, we had a conversation and TOGETHER worked out ground rules. We often disagree on things; one of those ground rules is that we discuss things and then sometimes, if it's a no-harm-no-foul-just-an-opinion thing, we agree to disagree. It has worked well. So, for the young woman who is butting heads: ask your mom what she wants to do about the areas where the two of you disagree. My guess is that she doesn't necessarily want you to agree; instead, she wants you to consider her viewpoint before rejecting it, and she wants to KNOW that you considered it. And good luck.

Maybe put this in the context of your overall relationship. Has he otherwise been a good, attentive Dad? Who knows - maybe he's carried intense guilt that he failed you in that moment. Or he changed his mind and was going to step up - but then you didn't need it - and he didn't want to come across as insincere by trying to claim after the fact that he would've helped. I would at least talk to him if you have an otherwise good relationship.

Don't forget to take responsibility and show that you, as parents, are fallible. "We let this go for longer than we should have, so this will be an adjustment for all of us." Something maybe along those lines. It's not the kids' fault that you didn't limit screen time, so you should be clear that it was your job, you slacked off a bit, now you're playing catch-up, and that's just how it is.

If Jack is older than early 20's, he most likely has a history of this kind of behavior with other women. It might be worth it to pay someone to run a check and look up to see if he has any court restraining orders or history of violence in his past.

I feel abyss better now. 

In This Chat
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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