Carolyn Hax Live: 'I am verklempt.'

Sep 06, 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, thanks for stopping by on a Thursday.

Hi Carolyn, I wrote to you a few years ago when my life had fallen apart. (LINK) Your response was eye-opening. I'd been unable before to separate "treat yourself" from "self-care," and reading your reply was one big lightbulb moment. I started noticing what nourished me as opposed to what allowed me to just check out and numb myself, and do more of the former - I got more involved in creative activities, revived friendships that had fallen by the wayside, started running, and invested more time in cooking for myself from scratch. My divorce was finalised about six months after I wrote to you, and that allowed me to buy an apartment and get out of temporary accommodation in a stranger's attic - so now I have a sanctuary and I love it. I also asked for help once my bereavement counselling came to an end, and it turned out there was a programme at my new job that could pay part of the costs for therapy. I've done a huge amount of work on boundaries (I basically had none; my ex was an addict - many 'Nuts asked why he was in the house and I had to move out, and that was why - the law considered him more at-risk than I was). I've had relationships since the divorce that have taught me I'm worth taking care of, which is a lesson I'm working hard to apply to myself, and shows I'm breaking the habits that got me into my bad marriage in the first place. While I haven't yet had another baby, I have frozen eggs, so deciding whether to try again isn't as urgent as it would otherwise be. I'm taking time to grow into my new lease of life before making that decision. In the meantime, I've trained as a peer support leader and lead support groups for other bereaved parents. Of course, as a recent chat showed, sometimes self-care DOES mean binging on Netflix and Cheetos, but I've learned to tell when that's restorative and when it's just making things worse. For the first time in my adult life, I feel secure in my core self - I know who I am, and what I need, and it's an incredibly empowering - and FUN! - feeling. It means that when bad things happen - and they still do, of course - I'm much better equipped to handle them. Thank you so much.

Thank YOU so much. I am verklempt. 

My longtime best friend Mary has been complaining about her financial situation. She is self-employed and only works part-time by her choice. Another friend of ours is a professional business coach and has offered many times to help Mary set up a formal business plan and to help her learn to market herself more effectively but Mary doesn't want to put in the effort. Lately Mary has been talking about taking on a second job but has no idea what she wants to do. She refuses to work for someone else because she only wants to work when she wants. She is not comfortable using most technology and has zero desire to earn a degree. I know I can't force Mary to do anything but I don't know how to keep sympathizing with her when she can't seem to grasp that making more money might mean doing something she doesn't like or on someone else's terms. How can I kindly tell my friend that there are no well-paying "work when you feel like it" options?

That's a "free spirit"? Remind me never to be one.

"I'd love to be wrong about this, Mary, but from my perspective, you have a lot of energy to complain about your situation, but very little when it comes to doing something about it. That strikes me as a far more reliable source of unhappiness than money shortages or having to report to somebody else."

If I ever write to you guys for advice on why people don't like me, send me this. 

 

I recently turned down a management opportunity at my company. I had several reasons, but the chief one was that I have no desire to be a manager. The boss accepted my decision but suggested that I be careful not to stay in a role simply because it was comfortable. I'm confident I made the right decision--for me at this time, anyway--but I wondered if you could give your take on a question: How do you tell the difference between making a decision based on self-knowledge, and making it out of fear or inertia?

I'm not sure there's any way you can ever be certain except in hindsight. 

But, one useful way not to get caught in a bunch of regrets is to look at your life in whole, vs. just one piece of it, like your job. Then, ask a few tough questions, and don't BS yourself with your answers:

"Am I challenging myself in a meaningful way, or am I coasting through life?"

"If I am coasting, do I have a good reason to?" Say, you're raising small children, recovering from an illness, grieving a loss, serving as someone's caregiver, or just coasting without apology after a perfectly respectful amount of life challenges, thank you very much. 

You also don't need to jump through any hoops to justify not wanting to be a manager. Your boss has given you good information as far as what s/he is looking for in your performance in the future, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily apt emotional advice.

I was in the middle of a divorce when my mom suddenly died four months ago. It had been an acrimonious divorce, he had hired a lawyer who seemed to want to make my life as miserable as possible, and I can't say my lawyer was much nicer. However, as soon as my mom died, he said, "Let's just press pause on this until you feel ready to process it again" and he has been amazingly supportive to me and kind to my family during our grief. So, I've fallen back in love with him and now I don't want a divorce anymore. But I'm not sure if he feels the same way or if he's just being nice because my mom died. I don't know how to proceed on this and feel like I'll be crushed if I tell him I want to try again and he says no, but it would also be stupid to go through with a divorce I don't want just because I'm afraid to say what I do want. Any words of wisdom on how I should proceed?

Certainly don't proceed as if being "crushed" is the worst possible outcome.

The worst, to my eyes at least, is a tie between divorcing someone you don't want to divorce, and never knowing if there was another choice available to you. Only one notch, better, but arguably worthy of a place in a three-way tie for worst, is mistaking grief-fueled gratitude for healthy and sustainable love.

So, you're in a pickle. But there are still some reliable and responsible ways out of it that don't include rushing headlong at or away from your soon-to-be ex and these inconvenient feelings.

You've hit "pause" on the divorce, so use your time wisely. Get yourself the best therapy you can find. Sort out the grief from the gratitude and figure out how you got from marriage to acrimonious divorce to rekindled affection.

If in the meantime he starts nudging you to resume the divorce proceedings, then be open about your need for more time. Say you have complicated feelings right now and aren't ready to go forward.

If and when you are sure your feelings for your ex are legitimate: Gather up all of your support resources--think airport runway lined with fire trucks and ambulances--and see if you can land this plane.

 

Good luck, and I'm so sorry about your mom.

 

 

Is today the wedding hoot?

No, not today, and I don't know when or even whether I'll have one this year. Usually August is the perfect sleepy time for me to sort through everyone's stories, but the end of the summer this year was unusually complicated. My apologies. Once I'm through to next week, I'll be able to make a plan--though, admittedly, a wedding hoot when summer is essentially over feels out-of-season.

Hi Carolyn, My fiancé was asked to donate sperm to help his sister and her wife conceive a child. (With the wife's egg.) They would like for the wife to be pregnant this year and will ask another genetic relative if he says no, but are hoping he says yes. He in turn has solicited my help with the decision, saying I have veto power and that he won't do it if I don't want him to. I guess what I'd like to know is--why would it bother me? He and I plan to have our own children in a few years. I am certainly not threatened by his relationship with his sister, nor do I think I'd have a hard time dealing with the knowledge that our niece or nephew was actually a biological sibling to our kids. But I worry that since I have no problem with it, I must not be thinking it through. What do you think?

I think it's possible that you don't have a problem with it because you don't have a problem with it.

It's fair to say to your fiance that your first instinct is to support this idea, but you'd like to live with it for a while before committing to it--and both of you should inform yourselves of any legal implications before making your decision.

Don't postpone the decision indefinitely, just long enough to get used to it and get informed. 

A positive way moving forward would be saying something like "I really appreciate your kindness and caring for me when I was going through that difficult time. Regardless of our differences, it is that part of you that I realize helped me fall in love with you." Where he takes that could be positive, even if you still end up divorced.

Disclaimer: I’ve never divorced, but... You were divorcing for a reason, and I can’t help but think part of that reason was that he wanted to make the breakup as miserable as possible. That’s a really good argument for not being legally entangled with someone. But just because you aren’t legally entangled doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship. Maybe seriously consider letting the divorce finish out, THEN asking him to dinner after the finalization to express your gratitude and how it made you remember the good times. Then see, knowing you don’t have to re-make the divorce decision from scratch if that generosity of spirit was a fluke.

Hi Carolyn, How can I gracefully put a deadline on getting an answer to an invitation? I’m uncomfortable having an invitation hanging open indefinitely, or hearing back at the last minute after I’ve switched gears. Say I want to go to a movie or a hike on Saturday. It’s happened that on Tuesday, I’ll text Friend A and ask her if she wants to join me on Saturday. If I don’t hear anything back for a couple of days, I assume she’s not interested, and by Thursday I want to try Friend B, C or D until I get Saturday plans lined up. Do I follow up with Friend A first (which feels like pestering, since it’s an unsolicited invitation that’s being ignored), or do I move on with the assumption that I’m free to ask around? And also ... what do I say if Friend A responds on Saturday and says she wants to hike, but I’ve already gotten a commitment from Friend B, or have changed my mind about how to spend the day? Thank you for any help you can give me! BTW this happens with very good people, so I trust it’s not gamey. I just want an answer one way or another, or to free myself from my own invitation.

You move on after a day or so of not hearing back, and make your plans as you see fit. If you then hear from Friend A, say, "When I didn't hear back from you I assumed you weren't interested and made other plans. How about next Saturday for a hike?" Then restart the day-or-two response clock. You are not a hostage to anyone's bad manners.

The way you wrote the question seems a bit unclear if HE is ok with this. You say you have no problem with it - is there a chance he has "solicited help" because he's unsure? If there's a chance you have veto power as a way for him to not make the final call, maybe the next step here is to see how he's really feeling about the idea

Thanks. I noticed, too, there wasn't any indication of how he felt, but didn't take the next logical step that it might be his way of devolving the decision to the OP. Two ways OP can proceed from here with this possibility: Ignore it, and just decide on the merits as planned; or, as you say, pose the Q to the fiance about how he feels. Thanks again.

Dear Carolyn, We live in a community that is FULL of young families. There is a strong clash between working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, with groups that socialize together on each side but a lot of disdain and defensiveness between the two. I stayed at home with my son for the first three years of his life, and then a few months ago I returned to working part-time (I'm in an office three days a week). My social life has changed radically, with the moms in both groups wanting nothing to do with me. I have no interest in judging anyone else's choices or holding mine out as superior--I just want to be able to hang out with the moms and kids I like without feeling that I am distrusted by both the working and the at-home moms. How do I get there? Do I need to wear a banner proclaiming that I respect all lifestyles?

They all sound awful. Does anyone live there who doesn't have (young) kids, and who could use a friend? Or who also doesn't want any part of this aggressively petty, self-important, narrow-minded s*** show?

I mean, sure, call up the actual people you actually like in a saucy attempt to be a normal friend. But if any of them resist your overtures because your choices aren't tribally approved, then consider yourself backhandedly blessed and seek your companionship elsewhere. It'll take time, a lot of it lonely, but I suspect it'll be worth it in the end--and being with defensive/disdainful people is lonelier still. Who knows, you may bear witness to a few comings-out of fellow bats. 

As someone with divorce law experience, I would not recommend investing the time and money and emotional energy in finalizing the divorce, and then seeing what happens - I’d stick with watching how things go during your “pause,” and then proceeding or not, depending on how things go. The other thing to consider, switching to a kinder gentler form of divorce, and seeing what happens - collaborative divorce or mediation are two good options.

After you've done what Carolyn suggested, also consider talking to your estranged husband about getting different attorneys. I used to do family law, and there is such a thing as a mediated divorce, which is FAR less acrimonious! However, I've also seen pit bull divorce attorneys ramp up the steam in order to get a "better" outcome. It makes some sense, but it's incredibly stressful for the participants and makes healthy post-divorce relationships more difficult than they need to be. Just because you are no longer married doesn't mean you have to be enemies-- consider taking a lower-key approach if full reconciliation isn't in the cards. Clearly, he's a decent guy, so rise to his level and be kind to each other.

My SO asked me last weekend if we could commit to a one-year embargo on any discussion of our own future children. We are planning on getting married within the next two years and we know that we both want children eventually, but it makes him nervous (I would actually describe it as anxious) to think or talk about the particulars, to the point where a fun evening can be ruined if I so much as ask what he thinks about a particular baby name. I think that his feelings are valid, but to have such a big topic taken off-limits makes me feel distant from him, and it also prevents certain important logistical discussions (such as about where we're going to live when our lease expires). Is it fair of him to ask me for this embargo, or should I insist that he face his fears even though kids are years away?

Don't insist that he discuss something important, no. Instead, insist upon an answer from yourself: Are you ready to be married to someone whose anxiety can and does sometimes stand in the way of making important decisions?

This alone is a big enough issue for you right now, so take it on fully. Don't clutter it up by trying to make a kid decision, too, or trying to make him decide the future of your relationship for you by way of making a kid decision. Is he the guy? That's the only question here. The rest is TBD.

Sorry--I realized after submitting that I should add something to make sure it did not sound like my fiancé is deflecting the donor decision to me. He was somewhat uneasy about the whole thing at first--took him a while to understand the mechanics of what they wanted to do, and he was uncomfortable about the idea of donating sperm so his *sister* could have a child--but he is on board in principle and has already said that if he didn't have his own future family to consider he would say yes. It really is just about his worries about complicating things for me and our (hopefully) kids.

Thanks for the follow-up.

I agree with earlier commentators: why were you divorcing in the first place? I think starting from that question, and finding out what has changed with respect to that problem, is the key. If the problem isn't resolved, the feelings of love you are feeling now are likely not sustainable (so if you decide to go for it, then you and he will need to fixing that root cause).

My son is getting married soon to a lovely woman. Since they are in their mid 30s they have told me they would like to start a family right away. My ex is bipolar which my children know. However they are not aware that he is a sex addict. I happen to know that he makes obscene phone calls. He acts very flirty around teenage girls. Likes to wrestle, tickle and pick them up. While I do not know for a fact that he engages in child pornography I believe that he has that potential. Should I tell my son and his wife this if/when she has a little girl? Thanks

Tell your son now what you know and whatever you know, just facts, because he deserves this knowledge, whether he has a little girl, a little boy, or no children at all. 

I would like to add: Don't let their desire for a pregnancy this year hurry you and/or your fiance into a decision one way or the other. If they really would rather have his genetic material than a relative's, it's to their advantage to wait a bit. Not months and months and months, but there should be no pressure to decide by next week or next month so that they can start trying for conception.

Excellent point, thank you. 

Hi Carolyn, We're expecting our first baby (yay!). In my family, a much-anticipated rite of passage for new grandparents is to decide what they will be called by grandkids. My own grandparents supposedly did this, and I have been witness to my aunts and uncles having a great time batting around ideas while waiting for the babies to be born. I was very excited for my parents to have this opportunity, and they're already brainstorming some sweet and hilarious ideas. But in my husband's family (which, in contrast to my own, is VERY nuclear-family-centric, meaning that grandparents who want to be involved are expected to in all ways bend to the needs and whims of their adult children), it's the parents who decide what their kids will call the grandparents. He is not against the names my parents are considering, but he is offended on principle that an important* decision affecting our kids is being made by someone other than us. How do we reconcile these competing expectations? *He thinks it's important; I think it's trivial unless they come up with something that is problematic, say a term they don't realize is a slur.

Where there is irreconcilable disagreement: His family, his rites; your family, your rites. 

Offended on principle? Over stinkin' grandparent names? While they're "brainstorming some sweet and hilarious ideas"? I know I have no say in this, but his offense offends me. 

If I were his doctor, I'd be recommending an emergency stickectomy.

Dear Carolyn, My husband and I have a 34-year-old son who has been in a relationship with a woman for about seven years. About two years ago, he unceremoniously began referring to her as his "fiancee" and she began wearing a ring, so we asked if there was a wedding date planned - he bit our heads off about the "pressure" he was under to set a date and we dropped the subject. A few weeks after that, after a conversation with the woman about her wedding plans, we sent them a four-figure sum of money with a note indicating it should be used to help with wedding expenses. That was the last we heard of any wedding for the last two years. We don't expect our money back (he's our son; money flows in one direction and we have no misapprehensions about that), but we do feel misled and are wondering what's up. Is it appropriate to ask for more definitive information about whether he is going to marry this lovely woman we already consider family? Or would that be "pressure" in a category that makes us a meddling nuisance?

You weren't misled; you overstepped by engaging the woman after your son made it clear your inquiries weren't welcome.

I'm sorry you weren't told anything, and I'm sorry your son reacted so childishly to your question, which stripped of context was reasonable (a history of meddling here could change that).

But given what you've written here, you didn't in fact "drop the subject"--you just moved it to someone else, and then changed your language from English to cash. That makes the rest of your hard feelings sound disingenuous. 

For whatever reason, your son has baggage, both in this seven-year pairing and in his relationship with you. The best place for your energy, therefore, is not in pinning down a wedding date, but instead in figuring out what role you play in this baggage and whether there's a healthier one available to you than the one you're in now. The answer could be no, but it's still a question worth asking.

Hello, Carolyn! I've lived in the same city since I graduated college six years ago, and worked at the same organization as well. While my job has previously been great, the past two years have seen a sharp turn in the culture in my workplace, and I am not too happy with the nepotism and back-stabbing that has seem to taken hold of my department. Many people I work with are wonderful, and the work I do is somewhat fulfilling. The city itself is great too, and I have a fantastic group of friends I've gathered over the years. However, I have always wanted to live in other parts of the country, and didn't picture myself staying here quite so long. Right now, I'm debating whether to stay in my current city and potentially find a new job, or go for it and move somewhere new. My hesitation comes with leaving my dear friends and established life. Complicated also by the fact that my family is relatively close, including my 1 year old god daughter. I'm not sure what to do, or how to make this decision!

Job hunt in one of those other cities? Then go if you find something appealing enough to relocate for, and stay if you don't. Search locally too while you're at it. Half-steps that don't commit you to anything, where possible, can be illuminating when you're not sure what comes next.

My parents are very active mid-60s y/o that live a 2 hour flight + 2 hour drive from me. They regularly travel internationally, see their grandkids that live about an hour away fairly frequently, and both have hobbies they're very engaged in. We're pretty close but if I want my two toddlers to see them I almost always have to go to them, taking time off of work, loading up all our gear, etc. Whenever I ask my parents to come and visit us they say they're too busy with things like a cocktail party they're planning, starting a new club for my dad's hobby (even though he's already active in two clubs for it!), or something else that seems like they could easily step away from for a few days a couple times a year. They currently haven't visited since 2017 and I just found out that even though Thanksgiving is "theirs" this year (we alternate xmas/tgiving with my inlaws), they made plans with friends in their town which we're welcome to join but they don't really seem to care if that is feasible for us. I've read enough of your columns to know I can't change them so how do I let go of being angry and hurt over this and keep giving willingly when they don't give back? I don't think the travel is too much for them because they travel much further for vacations and I don't think its that they're not up for kids because when we go there, they're very engaged with the kids. We're just behind cocktail parties, hobby clubs, painting classes, vacations and pretty much everything else on their priority list. I want to skip thanksgiving because if they don't care why should I, but that seems petty and like in the long run would just lead to having no relationship at all.

Have you told them yet, explicitly, that you feel hurt by their unwillingness to travel to see you and your kids?

Carolyn—My brother and I are both in our 60s. We are facing making some very difficult decisions for our mother, in her 90s, who lives alone still, but soon will need to be in assisted living or a nursing home. My brother “Calvin” is Mom’s trustee and has her power of attorney, and lives closer to her than I do. He visits more often, takes care of her legal affairs, and is spending a lot of time looking into long term care options. I am very grateful for all the work he is doing. I visit Mom several times a year to help take pressure off Calvin, take Mom to doctors’ appointments, make her calls, organize her apt, take care of issues in her condo, etc. Tonight she called upset to tell me Calvin yelled at her about how much time he is spending on her, to his financial detriment. That’s his way—he emotionally ambushes people and then walks away from the damage he has done. Mom doesn’t want me to mention this latest episode to Calvin. People in the family tend to not want to confront Calvin because they fear his anger, so he never faces the consequences of his actions. Mom says I am the only one she can talk to about Calvin’s treatment of her, but she doesn’t want me to say anything to him or do anything about it. But it’s hard to stand by and watch him treat her like that, no matter how many good things he’s doing. It’s crazy making. Should I go against my mother’s wishes and say something to Calvin? Or just treat her complaining to me as venting?

To what end would you talk to Calvin about this--to yell at him? To say, "You can't do that"?

Calvin's emotional-ambush tactics are lousy, but don't focus on that at the expense of giving Calvin's stress the attention it needs. He's overwhelmed. You're spelling him when you can, and that's good, but stepping in "a few times a year" is not enough respite care for someone who needs attention on a daily basis or close to it.

So, yes to talking to Calvin, but not about his outburst. Talk about the need to make these difficult decisions sooner rather than later because, as well as he cares for her,  your mom's needs have grown well beyond what he should have to carry alone. Note--you're not criticizing his care. You're just mindful of how unfair it is that he's been disproportionately affected by all of this. 

Also step up your involvement, assuming he'd welcome that. Get yourself there ASAP to help Calvin find a good place for your mom. Research in-home- and respite-care options for your mom in the meantime to give Calvin some relief. Where you can, contribute money toward this additional care. This isn't mom vs brother, this is mom vs time, and the mom side needs reinforcements.

 

"Is it appropriate to ask for more definitive information about whether he is going to marry this lovely woman we already consider family?" If she truly is lovely and like family, then why does it actually matter to you whether they get married or not? The whole point of getting married is to unite two families, no? So if you've already welcomed her into yours, then sure, it would be fun to have an "official" celebration of that fact (and of course, there are legal ramifications that are nothing to sneeze at, but those don't really affect you in any way)... but how will it change anything in your relationship with the couple? If they just stayed "engaged" forever, what's the difference?

Zackly, thanks.

I had to re-read this letter a couple times. They're a couple years from getting married and OP is talking about baby names often enough for SO to request this? I think a little self-reflection from OP is also in order, on just how preoccupied they may be with something that's several steps removed at the moment. SO could be 100% on board with a "baby in three years" plan but want a chance to just be a couple in that interim time, to enjoy one another as more than a planned baby production unit. (And the corrolary to your answer -- if OP doesn't see themselves and SO as a whole unit who love each other independent of babymaking, that's a problem that SO may need to leave over). It is still the communication and compatibility problem you raised -- that's just another side of the coin.

As a former child sex crimes prosecutor, I would like to address a common misperception, which seems to be shared by the OP, that pedophiles only target young girls. In fact, child sexual predators target boys as well, depending on their personal preferences. So the advice that she should share what she knows with her children--regardless of whether her future grandchildren are boys or girls--is spot on. Also, I don't know what level of detailed information she has regarding her suspicions that her ex may be collecting child pornography (which is a state and federal crime), but if she does have information, I would encourage her to contact her local FBI office to report what she knows.

The "free spirit" could suffer from depression. It may be that she is simply unable to move forward to other things, instead of merely unwilling. It's hard to articulate and/or admit that to yourself or another when you're the one who's actually suffering from clinical depression.

True, thanks. ADHD can also produce this kind of paralysis. And anxiety. I do think friends can serve a useful purpose here, too--by not suggesting things that will surely be ruled out for whatever reason, but instead prompting her. "What do you think you'll do?" Etc. Shift the problem-solving focus where it belongs, with her. To include, where appropriate: "Have you ever been screened for anxiety or depression?"

If feasible, the family should consider hiring an elder care case manager who can help out with finding a place for mom and dealing with other issues that arise.

Carolyn - We have 3 kids under 3 (there's a set of twins in there!). Please tell me that we will survive. This is so hard. Advice on how to get thru the triple-toddler years?

Keep them hugged, fed and alive, call in all the help you can, make room for yourself, and trust time to make it easier. The phase you can't bear right now will be a new one soon, and when you can't bear what that next one entails anymore, a new one will come along. 

If you ever feel like you're stressed to the point that you might harm your kids or yourself, don't be ashamed to send up a flare. It's hard. Humans have almost always raised kids in a community setting, for good reason.

I held onto this for a long time: The days last years, and the years fly by. It will be easier before you know it.

Of course I say this after kid events just made calendar roulette out of my past five weeks, but all of it was still easier than when they were 2, 2 and 1, two of them mouthers of any objects they ran across and all three of them climbers of shelves and furniture, and I had myself a full-body sobbing session once a week, almost like clockwork. 

Hahahahahahahahahahaha Now that I have that out of my system, please understand that neither you, nor he, nor anyone’s parents will decide what the grandparents are called, the kids will.

I have been sitting on this for 25 years. It will just crush my son to find this out. Why do I feel so terrible about this dilemma? I am afraid he will tell his father why he doesn't want him alone with a child and then I will be in hot water with everybody

You didn't heat the water, he did. Do what you must. Please. If you don't feel strong enough to take important actions to protect the people you love and possibly society, then please talk to a therapist asap. Keeping it to yourself is not a defensible option.

Doesn't appear to bode well for future boundary issues with his family's RIGHT way, nor for future challenges that will appear with future discussions about how to raise children. Seems they grew up with very different family philosophies.

Right. Authoritarian on his part, it seems, and authoritative or permissive on hers. Better to navigate a path through these differences now, and the grandparent-naming issue is as good an entry point as any. Thanks.

In our home, it's a Corncob-ectomy.

Ouchie.

Granted, I'm not terribly career-driven, but isn't being comfortable the *best* reason to stay in a job?

Only if your boss agrees, I guess. 

Okay, that's it for today. I have it on good authority (a k a, complete fiction) that this chat ends the work week even when it happens on Thursday. 

So, bye! Happy weekend, thanks for stopping in, and type to you here next week. I'm taking the fall wedding hoot idea under advisement.

here's what I do. Hey friend A, I'm thinking about going on a hike this weekend. If you're interested in joining me, let me know by Wednesday. I hope you can.

I've just learned that many of my friends are kind of jerks and don't follow up, then I was left with nothing to do a lot of the time. So if I hear yes by Wednesday, great. If I hear no, less great, but still good. If I don't hear, I move on to other plans

Fair enough, thanks. I wouldn't set a deadline myself, but there's nothing wrong with doing that as you say.

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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