Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just. Don't.

Kissie Rose writes:

My stomach is pretty furry. I am pregnant with my second baby and realized that the hair on my tum tum is very obvious. I am getting maternity photos this time around, but am embarrassed for the amount of hair the photographer (and my husband!!!) will see! Should I get my stomach waxed or should I try a depilatory? Any suggestion is appreciated.

The best advice I can give you is not to get bare belly maternity pictures. Seriously. Don't do it. You're not even comfortable with the idea of your husband seeing your bare stomach right now. And even if you were able to get rid of the hair, how will you feel about stretch marks, varicose veins, and your inside-out belly button?

You can still get maternity pictures, just get yourself a cute maternity top (and pants!). Believe me, you will enjoy and appreciate them so much more, and you'll be able to share them with friends and family without ridicule.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Thankful That This Isn't Your Mom

Marie asks:

I loaned my daughter $10,000 four years ago with a repayment plan of $100-200 a month no interest. I came into a large inheritance and offered to loan her the money so she could pay for her tuition for college. She has paid back about half, but now I lost my job and need my money back. She is unable to pay more than our originally agreed amount but when we made the agreement I was gainfully employed. Sure, I made some frivolous purchases that ate up a large chunk of my savings but that never seemed like my daughter's business. She said that I should not have made certain purchases, and that if I were not able to taker her repayment deal I should not have agreed. Now I have only $6k left, no job, so now I need her to pay me back faster. How can I ask her to double her monthly payments? She claims she cannot take a personal loan to give it to me in one lump sum.

Your daughter. You have a contract, and she's honoring her end of the deal. Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on hers.

And honestly, if you have no job and only $6,000 to your name, you're focusing on the wrong thing. Even if your daughter could give you all the money back in one payment, how long would it last you? A month? Two weeks? You've already demonstrated that you're not good at handling money, and asking your daughter to go into further debt to bail you out is just plain selfish.

Go get a job. Plenty of retail stores are hiring for the holiday season. Use the money you earn to pay for necessities (food and shelter). Take whatever's left over and SAVE IT. Then, take the $1-200 per month that your daughter is paying you back and SAVE IT.

Then maybe, just maybe, the next time you find yourself in a similar situation you'll be able to take care of yourself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caring for Aging Parents

Angie R. writes:

You're going to think I am a horrible person. I love my mother in law, but her hygiene habits are nonexistant. It's not entirely her fault, because she's elderly and has a very incompetant bladder. I dread wen she comes over because of the smell that follows her. Her clothes do not seem to get regular washings, so something lingers in the air. I also cannot control how often she visits when I am not home, so often my home is not ready for her to visit. Because of her legitimate medical issues with her bladder, she constantly leaks, which means I either have to rewash my floors when she laves, or shampoo the livingroom carpet, or shampoo my dining chairs because they are fabric. I already keep a liner on my couch which gets people to mock me, but it's the only way my couch remains unstained. I cannot be insensitive, and I know my husband is embarrassed for his mother, but what can I do? She doesn't take our advice on wearing protection, and I cannot force her to sit in one spot when she visits without moving. She sees a doctor regularly, but she's and adult and I cannot force her to get more help. Is my only option to tell her to stay home???

I realize this is an unpleasant subject to bring up with someone, but you and your husband owe it to his poor mother to get her some more help. If you have to shampoo your carpets after she leaves, imagine the state her own home must be in. What happens when she goes to a store or a restaurant, or rides in someone's car?

If she can't manage to clean up after herself or wash her clothing on a regular basis, she's in no state to be living on her own. You need to start taking steps to provide for her care.

Aging is a difficult process for everyone involved. People who were once able-bodied and capable have a difficult time letting go of the things they used to be able to do. Adult children of aging parents can be reluctant to step into the role of caretaker. But if you love this woman as you say you do, you need to do what's best for her. And as we all know, what's best isn't always what's easiest.

Cutting her off by telling her she can no longer visit will make her feel bad and do nothing to improve the situation. Talking to her honestly and helping her get her problem under control will make her feel bad and then make her better. Which do you think is the better option?
Start with a frank conversation about what she can and can't do at this stage in her life. Accompany her to doctor's appointments to make sure she understands any diagnosis, treatment, or other instructions. Buy her a package of Depends and tell her she has to wear them in your house.

She's going to think you're treating her like a child. You and your husband are going to feel like you're dishonoring her or being ungrateful for the years of care she provided him. There will be ugly fights and lots of hard conversations. But the end goal is that you improve her quality of life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Workplace Discrimination

Hush writes:

I think my boss is discriminating against people who are native Spanish-speakers. We work in food service. The company just hired a new floor manager, He already moved one of the ESL workers to the back of the house instead of her original hostess position. He also made a comment to another worker that one of the Spanish cocktail servers are not the right fit for the look of the restaurant. He then complained that another Spanish speaking coworker frustrates him because his accent sometimes makes him hard to understand. These are not people who are disciplinary problems, because if they were they'd not be working here. What can I do at this point now that I see a pattern? And how does this new guy know I'M not Spanish? SO far he seems to trust my abilities and often asks me to cover the cocktail hours, but I don't think it's fair to the people who have been there longer. But since he is my boss and people have hired him to do this job, I am sure they have confidence in him. So maybe I'm wrong?

First, don't assume this man is above reproach just because he got hired for the job. There are plenty of bad managers, and plenty of bigots that work their way into positions of power. "Do you think Hispanic people should be allowed to work the front of the house" isn't a typical interview question. Based on the information you've provided, I think it's safe to say your new boss is exhibiting an ethnic bias, and this isn't a behavior that should be allowed to continue.

That said, this is an accusation that could potentially cost your boss his job, and it should not be made lightly. 

Pay attention the next few times you're at work, and try to document every time he disciplines or makes comments about an employee's behavior. You have to be sure that he's treating the Hispanic employees differently and that he's not just and equal opportunity asshole. I'm not saying you need to walk around with a tape recorder in your pocket--in fact, don't. Just jot down a note when you notice him complaining about or mistreating someone.

Also find out if whether or not you're alone in this observation. In my experience restaurant employees like to gossip, so if you can avoid it, don't bring your suspicions up. Just wait for someone else to mention it. Regardless of whether or not he's acting intentionally, if employees are troubled by his behavior, it constitutes harassment. Finding out if others share your feelings is a good gauge of whether or not you're overreacting.

When you're ready to take action, do a little research. If you work for a large chain or franchise, the corporate office will likely have a hotline you can call to report abuse. If it's a privately owned restaurant, you may need to find a way to speak with the owner.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'd Be Fed Up Too

Fed UP writes:

How do I get my husband to shower more often? I have to practically beg him every few days to get into a shower, and he sometimes thinks because he works long hours that it interrupts his down time. That's fine, but my sheets smell so bad and I have to change them more frequently than I'd like to. Plus I have to remind him I won't have sex unless he's showered and he doesn't care it seems. He'll shower if I ask him to fool around, but I'd sometimes like for him to be showered and ready without me asking. And no matter how hard I try...I ask nicely, I remind him he's a grown up and grown ups shower every day or every other day, I even tell him that I would like more spontaneous sex and it's not happening with his hygeine habits. It is fixed for about 2 weeks and then he goes back to the man who then makes me nag him into a shower. He's not depressed, just lazy. I don't know how else to explain to him I prefer him to be clean. 

This is just gross. I assume his showering habits didn't change after you got married. So WHY did you marry a man who can't take care of basic hygiene? Does he brush his teeth? Does he shave? You can shower in 5 minutes. The claim that it's eating away at his down time is just ridiculous.

And how does this prioritization of his down time affect your division of household labor? I can't imagine that anyone who can't bother to clean his own body ever even thinks about the dishes, or running a vacuum cleaner.

I have a hard time believing this doesn't affect other aspects of his life. You say he works long hours, but what does he do? I can't think of a single work setting where it wouldn't be noticed if someone wasn't bathing themselves regularly. Dirty, smelly people don't get raises and promotions like people who wash do.

So what should you do? First, you should get him into counseling. You may not think he's depressed, but there's clearly something wrong. Maybe talking to an impartial party will help him realize it. And until he turns himself around, I have no problem with giving him a little passive-aggressive taste of his own medicine. I don't suggest you stop showering, but you can stop shaving, stop doing his laundry, and stop doing the dishes. When he realizes how annoying it is to live in filth, maybe he'll change his ways. Immature, yes. But sometimes immature people can't be dealt with maturely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Bar or Not To Bar

Tina asks:

I have been arguing with my future in laws, and I disagree with them. I have been to many weddings over the years and it is absolutely disgusting to watch wedding guests getting drunk, simply because the booze is free and flowing like water. And if any of these people have a car accident on the way home from the reception because they are drunk, guess who is liable?

We are planning a beautiful wedding and my family are NOT drinkers. There will be a champagne toast and wine with dinner. Other than that, if our guests need to get drunk in order to enjoy themselves, they can hit a bar on their way home, ON THEIR OWN. We are not going to provide them with free liquor and we are not going to be responsible if they wrap themselves around a tree on the way home or harm someone else on the road. 

How did I get my in laws to understand that I do not want to fund the all night party line? The "tradition" of getting sloshed at wedding receptions and expecting the bride and groom (or their parents) to provide and pay for free liquor should be stopped. Please help, thanks!

Ultimately, the amount of alcohol you serve at your wedding is up to you (or the person paying for your wedding). In that regard, you are right to make the decision for yourself and your in-laws are wrong to demand more of you. Stop discussing the issue with them. If they bring it up, let them know that that part of the reception has already been planned and you're on to choosing table runners now.

However, unless you keep the company of extremely classless people, I think your characterization of "sloshed" guests and assumption that people only get drunk because the booze is free is overblown. I have been to many weddings, and while there are always a few people who overindulge, the majority of guests drink enough to maintain a happy buzz throughout the evening. They also generally drink no more or no less than they would if they were paying for the alcohol themselves.

Think about it this way. Weddings are happy, celebratory events. Drinking makes people feel happy. It makes shy people more willing to get out on the dance floor. It makes tables full of people who don't know each other well feel better about socializing.

As an adult hosting a party for adults, it's only polite to offer adult beverages. If you're worried about those who overindulge, you can instruct your bartenders to be strict about over-serving. If you're worried that underage guests will get served, you can again instruct your bartenders to card everyone. For the record, it's the servers of the alcohol that could be held liable if a guest wraps hims car around a tree, so it's in their best interest to be vigilant.

And consider this: if the people you are inviting to your wedding are the types to get sloshed in the presence of an open bar, they're not going to be pleased to find out one isn't available. Be prepared for cousins and college friends to show up with flasks, for Aunt Gertrude to hide the bottle of table wine under her skirt, and for those who weren't able to secure their own source of booze to leave early.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Ann writes:

I loaned my car to my daughter for a work event she was attending. Her car was in the shop, and I offered to let her use mine because it was for an important meeting and this way she didn't have to rent a car. She was reimbursed for mileage and gas. Well, she was the driver for herself and 3 other larger ladies. I have an older car, and it seems that the weight of the 3 women plus my daughter caused the transmission to drop out from underneath. This didn't happen until I drove out from my driveway into the street the next day, My daughter said she didn't have any problems with the car.

Well, I called her company and spoke to her supervisor to tell them I feel they should reimburse me for the $140 in damages it cost to fix the dropped transmission, and they said they are not liable for what happened to my car after she returned from the meeting. My daughter is upset that I would go behind her back and contact her boss, but I did not do this to my car. She said she'd pay me half of what it cost to fix the problem, but I think her company should pay. Who's right??

Well. First of all, let me answer the question. If someone damages property that they have borrowed, they should of course offer reimbursement to repair said property or to buy a new item. It would be up to your daughter to take that reimbursement up with her boss, since she incurred the expense during a work event.

Likewise, the company has every right to deny the claim, considering any damage happened after your daughter returned the car. You shouldn't have been making the claim in the first place, and you shouldn't be upset that the company claims zero liability.

But I have to call shenanigans on the technical part of your letter. Your transmission dropped what? A gear? Out of the car? Either way, it would cost a hell of a lot more than $140 to fix any part of a transmission (except maybe a general flush and re-lube). And I don't really see any way for the weight of four people who - and yes, I'm assuming here, but I think it's a sound assumption - fit in the vehicle to make it so heavy that the transmission would fail to operate properly over the course of one day.

More likely, your transmission was failing before you ever loaned the car. I don't know if your mechanic was trying to wiggle out of failing to notice a problem at your last scheduled service, or if you made this story fit together out of a mangled understanding of physics and what was actual wrong with your vehicle, but there's just no way your daughter's coworkers caused this problem.

So, ultimately, no one owes you any money - and you probably owe your daughter an apology.



Do you ever want to just scream at the people who write to you to stop being such whiney simpletons?


Monday, October 18, 2010

Apartment Living

Annie asks:

Hey there! I just moved into my first apartment after college. It's great! But I think i have a slumlord landlord and need advice. First, the toilet starated to leak a week after I moved in, and the landlord had a plumber to fix it that day. Then I told him that the drain was moving slow in the sink when I brushed my teeth, and he bought Drano to "fix" the clog. It works fine now, but still drains a little slow and the landlord said it is because the sink is small it's only 18 inches and a small bowl, and that once the water is turned off from the faucets that the water actually goes down the drain just fine. I don't know why the plumber could not come back, but whatever, I guess the landlord didn't believe me? So then I called back a week later to let him know that the tub drain was also moving slow, and water was draining slowly when I finished my shower. And he said to try using the rest of the bottle of drano to see if it unclogs. I have not used the drano yet because I called a plumber on my own to ask advice and the plumber told me never to use harsh chemicals on drains because they corrode pipes. So I have not used the Drano. Should I call a lawyer to get them to write a letter to the landlord demanding he call a plumber to fix my broken tub? I thought that landlords are supposed to fix problems that tenants have, and I should not have to keep asking him to call plumbers for faulty bathroom pipes, right? Do you think this is grounds to get my security deposit back and move out?

Of course the plumber is going to tell you not to use Draino. He gets paid more if he has to come in, right? According to ask the builder, it would take years of active Draino use to corrode your pipes to the point of damage. I'm sure you're not planning to rent this place for the rest of your life.

Also understand that different homes have different quirks. If you're thinking of moving out over this you're in for a rude awakening when your next apartment has a creaky stair, and the one after that has a flickering lightbulb, and the one after that has a draft near the windows. You can't expect the plumbing to work perfectly all the time. Your landlord is not a slumlord for choosing effective DIY fixes over hiring professionals for every little problem.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Management 101

Kip writes:

I don't know what to do. I am a manager and I get great reviews at work. I have a wonderful rapport with the group of people I work with. lately work has been stressful. I have an assistant who is rarely reliable, and who manages to slip under the radar by making other people catch her mistakes so she won't feel the heat. It is to the point that my immediate superior is not confident in her abilities. However, they cannot let her go because there's never been any documentation of her mistakes. SO now I feel like the burden of the department is on my shoulders because this one is unreliable, and I am working long hours to make up for the job she's not doing. I am afraid to say anything because management positions in my field are hard to come by, and I am scared they will fire me for not being flexible. I've been asked to change my shift at the last minute, sometimes being told to go home and come back later, because the assistant cannot be relied on to get things right. Should I just be happy they have confidence in me, or do I have the right to tell them I can't do these long hours anymore? I can't find anywhere that lets me know my rights as a worker in the United States.

Well, Kip, it's time to manage. This isn't about your rights as a worker, it's about your ability to get your team to perform. Think of the confidence your supervisor will have--and the job security you'll gain--if you can take this unreliable employee and turn her into a success.

This means that instead of covering for your assistant, you need to start holding her accountable for her mistakes. Just because nothing has been documented before doesn't mean you can't start. Let her know  her work has been unsatisfactory--and don't wait until review time to do it. I'm a strong believer that performance ratings should not be a surprise. If this woman is used to having other people pick up her slack, and hasn't been reprimanded before, she may not even realize how little confidence in her you have. Provide her with specific items to improve on, and a means to measure success.

I'm going to guess that other employees in your office don't particularly enjoy being thrown under the bus, so it shouldn't be difficult to convince them to stop taking falls.

Just keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to make this assistant a good employee, NOT to get her fired. Sure, if her performance doesn't turn around, you'll now have the documentation necessary to terminate her, but as a manager, the better your employees look, the better you look. Getting rid of her fixes the short term problem, but doesn't guarantee that her replacement will be better. On the other hand, helping her improve will win you both a lot of professional respect.

Tread carefully, as people don't like to be told they're doing a bad job. Frame your requests and your criticism wrong, and she's not going to be motivated to do better. In fact, she may end up doing worse. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whoa Baby!

Hot and Bothered asks:

What can I do? My husband is never in the mood for sex, and it's been about a month since the last time we were intimate that way. He just is afraid that because I am pregnant, it is dangerous, even though he logically knows different. BUT I caught him in the livingroom 3 times in the past 2 weeks "molesting himself" (sorry!) while watching porn. SO I know he wants to have the fun, just not with me. I tried sexy outfits, I tried explaining that it's nt dangerous, so I guess it's just me? Does this mean I should be considerate and wait until after the baby is born and our sex life now is in the coffin? Or is there anything else I can do? I am starting to feel really self conscious, and not sexy at all, because I know my belly is getting in the way so it's a constant reminder that he just doesn't want me that way anymore.

First, you have nothing to feel self-conscious about. If your husband doesn't recognize the beauty of your pregnancy, then he has problems that are bigger than your sex life.

He may have a legitimate--though irrational--fear that needs to be dealt with. Since your assurances that sex is safe aren't getting through to him, try taking him to your next appointment, and have the doctor explain it to him. If that doesn't work, the doctor may be able to suggest other ways for him to get over his phobia.

More importantly, tell him how you feel. Again, if this is caused by a phobia, he may not realize that rejecting you is hurting your self-confidence. Talk it through and come up with a solution that works for both of you.

You may decide to wait until after the baby is born to have sex, but I wouldn't wait that long to talk. In the chance that his problem isn't actually motivated by fear, you're prolonging the issue. There's always a possibility that more excuses will pop up as time goes, so you want to deal with this now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Annie asks:

I'm in a bad financial situation these days because I just found out I lost my job. I didn't get paid any of my leftover sick or vacation time because the company went bankrupt so I am stuck. I recently went to a wedding and gave a generous gift of $200, but regret doing that this past weekend. Is there any way I could ask the couple to give the money back due to my circumstances? It would really help until unemployment kicks in since I have to wait a week for that, and my rent is due and I can't be late on that of course. Thanks!

I'm sorry you've found yourself in this situation. Unfortunately, there is no polite way to ask someone to return a gift. Do you have a close friend or family member who can float you a short-term loan to cover you until your unemployment kicks in? If you've been on-time with your rent up until now, you could also try contacting your landlord and explaining your situation. It's possible that he or she will grant you a short extension.

In the mean time, I'd start focusing more on finding a new job than on trying to get back gifts you've given to friends. If you're at a point where $200 will make or break you, I wouldn't focus on finding something in your field so much as finding anything. With the holiday season coming up, it's a great time to get temporary retail work. You still won't have a paycheck in hand before rent's due, but at least you'll be able to be back on track by next month.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Couch Potato

Cori writes:

My boyfriend likes to eat while he watches TV. He always has a bag of chips or a sandwich or something. He gets salt and grease and pizza sauce and everything else all over the remote control. It grosses me out to touch it. I keep a box of tissues on the side-table so that I can use those to punch the buttons, but that is annoying. How do I get him to stop?

Ewwww. I don't think I could date someone who was too much of a slob to wipe his hands off before touching the remote. If that much gunk is getting on the remote, think of what's lurking between your couch cushions. I'd put some serious consideration into getting a second TV for the kitchen, or else a new boyfriend.

I assume you've already tried asking him nicely to use a napkin? If he refuses to change his ways, you may have a larger problem on your hands. Sloppyness at that level usually isn't limited to the living room, and I honestly don't know that I could date someone who wouldn't clean up after himself.

It's time to set some serious boundaries, such as no food outside the kitchen. However, be warned that if you're not willing to leave when things don't improve, you don't have a lot of bargaining room. Decide just how much you're willing to live with, and act accordingly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Bachelor Party

Izzabella writes:

My husband is going to be an usher in one of his old college buddy's wedding in a month and wants to go to the bachelor party, but the bach party is going to be a two-night trip over 4 hours away in a hotel with who knows what going on. If he was single, I can probably see why he'd want to go. But he's married (obviously, if he is my husband) and I don't think it's appropriate for a married man to participate in debauchery. I think that he should be the example and stay home with his family, maybe go to meet the guys for lunch or dinner the second night and then come home. He thinks that this is a tradition and he should participate because he's in the wedding and that is what the men do. But he won't tell me what they have planned because he said it's a bach party and women shouldn't be involved, I should just trust him. It's not that I don't trust him but I just don't think it's right for a married guy to spend a weekend pretending he's not married. How can I explain this to my husband without making it seem like I want him to not have friends??

I think, ultimately, your comfort with your husband's participation in this party comes down to what exactly will be going on during it--and he doesn't seem willing to tell you. That, to me, is a red flag.

So tell me, does "pretending he's not married" mean staying out until 4, getting drunk, and passing out on the bathroom floor? Or does it mean spending his last paycheck on lapdances? Because there's a big gap between the two.

Explain to your husband that his hesitation to tell you what they have planned doesn't warm you to the idea of his participation. Marriage is about openness, honesty and understanding. So try to compromise: if he can be open and honest about the plans, you can be understanding. If all they really want to do is drink beer and eat nachos, maybe you can let him hang out for a few days. If they want to see how many strippers they can get to sleeping with them in 48 hours, I can see why you wouldn't be too excited.

Probably the reality falls somewhere in between these two scenarios. So ask yourself. Is it okay for your husband to be in a strip club if he's not a participant in the festivities? Is the prospect of not being allowed to go emasculating to your husband? Do the two of you have that large of a disparity in values?

The key here is communication. Let him know exactly what you're not okay with, and why. And listen to him when he tells you what he wants to do with the guys and why it doesn't change how much he loves you. Once you're able to be clear with each other, you can come up with a solution that's acceptable for both of you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let's Try This Again

Unimportant was not too happy with Kate's response. Because I like to smooth feathers, and because our inbox is empty, I'm going to take another stab at this one.

Here's his comment:

OK, I'm sorry I said she isn't fat. Because now it's apparently not only wrong to call someone "fat", but "not fat" as well? How the hell is a guy suppose to get it right when everything is wrong? I only added the fact because any time I ask someone for advice on this the first thing they say is, "Well, IS she fat?" or if they know her, "Well, she COULD afford to lose a few pounds."

And I get the whole society thing, I'm out numbered so I shouldn't even bother. But WTF is this...

"You claim your opinion is unimportant to her, but she's made a note of every body you find unacceptable, every fat joke you've ever made, every time you've denigrated a skinny model for having visible bones. She knows your opinion is that you want a hot, sexy, beautiful woman."

So now it's my fault because I find some people to be attractive and others not? I'm to blame because I find HER to be incredibly sexy just the way she is? Aren't we suppose to be attracted to our partner? I don't get it.

Or maybe I do get it. Don't bother trying because you can never get it right. You'll always be wrong because you're just a stupid pig/dog/man.

Thanks, that helps. 

First, I'm not going to disagree with Kate's assertion that you're unknowingly contributing to the problem. That doesn't make you a bad person; it makes you a victim of society the same way your girlfriend (and everyone except for Kate) is. It also doesn't mean you should stop trying.

To Kate's point, when you say things like "She is not fat as I define it," "She is sexy to me," and "I find HER to be incredibly sexy just the way she is." You're making qualifications that imply that your opinion is different from everyone else's. Your girlfriend is hearing "Yeah, most people think you're fat but I don't care." As much as it sucks to admit it, when you stack your opinion against everyone else's, your feelings are less important, especially to someone who is self-conscious about their body.

So what can you do to change this? Drop the qualifiers. "You are beautiful." "You are sexy." "You look hot in that dress." Make comments about her appearance simple, declarative, universal statements. And don't just make them when she's complaining that these pants make her ass look big or this dress makes her look like a circus tent. Tell her when she least expects it.

The more you build her confidence, the less reliant she'll be on what other people think, and then you both win.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why Size Acceptance Is For Everyone

Unimportant asks a doozy:

Why is my opinion not important to my girlfriend? She is not fat as I define it, but she is not thin either. She is perfectly in the middle and I love her that way. She's not bony or bulgy, just wonderfully feminine. I get hot just thinking about her. However, she insists that her constant search for a diet that will help her lose those "extra" pounds is for my benefit. Every time she says she's doing this to be sexy for me, I tell her she IS sexy to me. But still the dieting goes on. Why? How do I make it stop? How do I get her to see what I see?

Short answer? You can't.

Long answer? You'd better get a snack and something to drink. This is going to take a while. 

Well. We could start with the $40-100 billion-a-year diet industry, which makes all that obscene amount of money predominantly on the backs of women. Or we could start with fat-phobia and body fascism, most recently in the media due to Michelle Obama's fight to get rid of fat kids. Or we could start with feminism 101, and the fact that in America today, women's bodies are public property, and they are expected to be fuckable, or what good are they?

Even you, who are trying to do something nice for your girlfriend, make all sorts of qualifications in your letter. Your girlfriend isn't fat, and you still find her fuckable, so why is she dieting? She's fulfilled the aims of every woman everywhere, hasn't she? She's got a man! She's attractive! She needs to just shuck off an entire lifetime of programming, backed up by millennia of the same! She needs to just ignore all of society and listen solely to you!

That's right. All of society.  Not merely fashion designers or movie producers or airbrush-happy photographers. Attacking the media for this problem is simplistic, and doesn't get at the real root of it, which is plain old, garden-variety misogyny. Women have gotten uppity lately, and there has to be some way to keep us in our place. 

Making us nothing more than decorative objects is as good a way as any, isn't it? If we spend all our time getting pedicures, curling our hair, doing our makeup - DIETING - we won't spend any time being smart, funny, athletic, competitive, competent, or threatening. We won't spend any time being human, and society as a whole won't have to take us seriously. Foreign governments who routinely kill women for being raped or going to school won't have to take their women seriously, either, and they know we won't be coming to help them. We're too busy counting our Weight Watchers points, aren't we?

But wait! you say. Don't people have a responsibility to take care of their health? Being fat isn't healthy! Fatties should put down the donuts and get on the treadmill! And if they happen to be more attractive afterward, isn't that a good thing? All this fat talk and glorifying impossible bodies is just thinspiration! Just because "normal" people don't need it doesn't mean it shouldn't exist!

And my girlfriend is "normal"! She's not obese! I just want her to shut up about the diets already and enjoy a damn slice of cake!

So I'll give you the short answer again, Unimportant: You can't. When everyone around her - her friends, her doctor, the media, the government, her family, her boyfriend - makes it eminently clear that her goal in life is to be beautiful, and that to be beautiful is to never forget that she must control her body, you won't override that message. You claim your opinion is unimportant to her, but she's made a note of every body you find unacceptable, every fat joke you've ever made, every time you've denigrated a skinny model for having visible bones. She knows your opinion is that you want a hot, sexy, beautiful woman.

She's just doing what you've told her to do, Unimportant. You want her to stop that?

You first. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When Hard Times Hit Close to Home

A sister asks:

My sister recently received notice that her job was being eliminated.  This is going to put her family in a terrible financial situation as they were already living on the edge.

Do you have any suggestions of what I could do to let her know that I'm thinking about her?  She lives several hours away in another state.  Somehow "unemployment sucks" flowers just doesn't seem right.  And I don't think she would appreciate cash or a grocery gift card if she knew it was coming from me (and she would, because even if I tried to be anonymous I'm the only person she knows that would mail something from this zip code).

This is an unfortunate situation, and one that's very common these days. It's hard to provide financial support to a friend or family member without making them feel like a charity case. If you don't think you sister will accept cash or a grocery card, then it's not the right gift to give in this situation. Flowers, while nice to receive, do little to actually help the situation.

If you want to help your sister, but you don't want her to think you're pitying her, I would send gifts rather than money. For example, the weather is getting colder, and growing children always need new clothes. The less your sister has to spend outfitting her kids, the more she'll have for gas and groceries. How about some cute hats and scarves, with a note that says "Saw this and thought of little Bonnie, love you!"

The upside of this is that it provides your sister and family with things that they want and need. By adding a little fun to their lives, you're helping them more than just financially. Money problems are a huge source of stress, and when you're tight on cash, the fun things are the first to go. Lack of fun leads to more stress, and soon you're in a vicious cycle of misery.

I wish your sister a quick job search.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Let Me Guess, You Can Quit at Any Time?

Shalon asks:

i keep a bottle of water in my drawer at work, but instead of water it's filled with vodka. I like to have a nip or two throughout the day, and often will add it to my lunchtime Hi-C fruit punch for a little bonus kick. I think one coworker smelled it on my breath recently because she asked me if I had anything to add to her drink because she had a snapple peach tea, but i told her NO. I think she sees me taking random sips from my desk water bottle and grew curious and now thinks I am the office bartender or something. Is there a more discrete way to keep my "water" bottle to myself?

You're an alcoholic. Either that or you're in high school. Really, you keep your booze in a water bottle and mix it with Hi-C?

I don't generally have a problem with drinking at the office. Occasionally grabbing a beer at lunch with friends or celebrating a new contract with champagne is perfectly acceptable. The difference between these examples and your situation is that you're drinking alone, and you're ashamed enough to make pathetic attempts at hiding it.

It's quite possible that your co-worker asked you to share not because she wanted a drink, but because she wanted to discreetly let you know that you're not fooling anyone. If you want to keep your "water" bottle to yourself, leave it at home. If you can't do that, seek the help of a professional.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where The Towels Are His And His And Hers....

Jessie writes:

My husband wants to have a threesome, something I was open with when I was a college gal, but not anymore that I have two children to take care of. I'm afraid this might be a dealbreaker for him, and I am just not emotionally prepared to give up my marriage because I cannot accommodate this need of his to have a sexual experience with me and this man that he is interested in inviting into the bedroom. I know the man is attractive, but this I thought that when men fantasize over threesomes, they involve two women. Should I consider being more open to experimentation if it means keeping my husband happy?

Here's my rule about experimentation: Everyone involved has to be 100% on board. That's it. Everything else follows after enthusiastic agreement by all parties that this is a good idea.

Based on my rule? There's no way you should be having a threesome. It has nothing to do with age or kids, and everything to do with the fact that you're just not comfortable bringing someone else into the bedroom. 

You say this is a "dealbreaker" for your husband. If he's threatening to divorce you over not getting a threesome? You're better off without him. Any man who makes threats when confronted by his partner's sexual limits is an asshole. He's not a good partner, he's probably not a good father, and I can't imagine he's a good lover. He's a selfish brat, and I would let the door hit him on the ass if I were you.

But if there are no threats, just a lot of talk, it may just be a favorite fantasy of his. If he only brings it up in the bedroom, it's probably just something he thinks about to get off, and he's not really expecting you to arrange it. Even the specificity of having a man in mind doesn't discount that: it may be someone he's attracted to, or someone he admires, and the thought of sharing his wife with someone he wants to be closer to for whatever reason is especially potent. Not all men envision threesomes with two women; many men like the thought of playing the "owner" of their women, and being able to pass her around to show their dominance and strength. Some men also like the thought of having a sexually voracious partner - so voracious that one man cannot hope to ever satisfy her, and so he has to allow her other lovers, and gets to watch her pleasure instead of participating in it.

I do have to wonder if you're asking me to give you permission to go ahead, though. You mention all the hot-button objections to sexual experimentation: You're not young anymore, you have kids, this will destroy your marriage. None of these are actual barriers, and the last one is patently false. Does this kind of adventure take a lot of security, planning, and talking through feelings? Hell, yes! But there's no age limit on sex, kids can go to the babysitter's, and there are plenty of happily married people who have lovers join them. There are couples whose marriages have gotten better after they confessed their kink to a loving, supportive, and communicative partner.

If you want to do this - and if you do, don't apologize for it! - go ahead. But. You and your husband should definitely seek the advice of those who have gone before you in order to effectively negotiate how the encounter will work. Will it be a one-time thing? Will it be recurring? Will you get to pick other men to bring home? Are there certain acts that will be off-limits? Does he want to watch or participate when you're with the other man? 

And so on, and so on. Having never negotiated a threesome myself, I don't know exactly what conversations you need to have, but these are some of the issues that come to mind. A quick Google search turns up a lot of resources for arranging a threesome, or you could peruse the archives of a good sex columnist. A couple of sessions with a sex therapist might not be a bad idea, either, as long as the therapist is sex-positive and won't dissuade you from the threesome based on personal bias. 

Whatever you decide, please send us an update. We love to hear how our contributors have used - or not used - our advice in real life.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cooking With Christy and Kate: Favorite Foods

Danette asks:

How much pudding is too much pudding? I love pudding, my favorite is chocolate. Also, what are some creative uses for pudding?

I believe there is no such thing as too much pudding. I suppose as with any food, you should stop eating when you are full.

At the risk of not being creative enough, I am going to assume you're asking for edible uses for pudding. The Jello website has tons of great recipes using their instant pudding.

Wow. How Do You Treat Your Enemies?

Stella asks:

We were supposed to go to a friend's wedding, but decided not to. We had already sent back the RSVP with a YES reply, and my husband and myself chose the dinners we wanted to have. We did not call, we just stayed home and did other things that night. They are old friends and live about 2 hours away, so they should understand if we were not able to make the drive. Should we send a gift? Do you think $25 is a fair amount to spend?

If you're invited to a wedding, it's customary to send a gift whether you attend or not. So the answer to your first question is yes. As far as the amount, you should spend as much as you feel comfortable with given your budget and your level of friendship with this person. If that amount is $25, then that's what you send.

However, I will say that in this situation, $25 seems a paltry sum. It was incredibly, incredibly rude of you to not show up--without explanation--after RSVPing "yes." No, your friends should not understand that you "were not able to make the drive," because you weren't unable, you just "decided not to."

Being married yourself, you should know that your selfish behavior cost them a pretty penny in uneaten meals and unused chairs, dinnerware etc. While I normally rail against the "rule" that a wedding gift should cover the cost of your plate, I think in this case you should at least try to make it up to them.

More than a gift, I think you owe this couple a sincere apology for your blatant disregard for etiquette.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why Grammar Is Less Science, More Art

Curious and Glamorous writes:

Why does the u in glamour move down the road when it becomes glamorous? Are there other words that work this way?

"Glamour" is the British spelling of "glamor". The u doesn't move; you're just mixing your spellings. It's "glamourous" in Britain.

Other words with extra u's include color, favorite, and honor (colour, favourite, and honour).

The deviation started in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when English spelling was first codified by the publication of dictionaries. According to Wikipedia, Brits follow Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, while Americans looked to Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language. 

Commenters claiming non-codification or differences in codification as reasons spelling shouldn't matter will be summarily mocked. Especially if they spell anything incorrectly. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

But We Still Don't Know Why the Chicken Crossed the Road.

The Riddler asks:

Why does the ocean roar?

You'd roar too if you had crabs on your bottom.

Friday, August 20, 2010

That's Sexual Harassment, and You Don't Have to Take It

Vinette writes:

One of the supervisors here in my office has a rapport with the ladies who work under him. They constantly joke and tease one another in a harmless way. However, it bothers me and I am not sure if it bothers me because I have a legitimate complaint or because I just feel like letting something bother me. Hopefully you can put me in my place if necessary.

They make sexually charged jokes with one another. While I find that the people involved in the jokes don't mind - and he only jokes with members of his own team - I am not sure how the people who can hear the jokes feel as this all happens during regular working hours on the work floor and not in the breakroom.

I started to get annoyed when he went to one of the lady's desks to tell her he "could smell the bacala" which referenced her stinky vagina. They all laughed and it's a constant joke with them, but teasing one another around me about the smell of a vagina is inappropriate during work. I am not sure how uncomfortable I am for all of that, but it definitely is not something I want to hear while I am working.

However, because he's not my immediate superior, and because his team doesn't mind, I wonder if I just need to let it go and ignore it. I do not interact with this man because I generally do not have to, and he's never rude. I just don't care for his jokes about female body parts and gender roles. So you think this is something I should report to HR, or is it something I should just let go because I am not involved?

I am lost only because I get along wit my coworkers in genera, and don't want to be the one who ruined everyone's fun times during the workday. They may have that casual relationship and who am I to ruin it for them, ya know?

I am shocked that you work at a company that has an HR department but does not have some form of sexual harassment training. It should be common knowledge to anyone working in a professional atmosphere that this behavior is unacceptable. Even if all parties directly involved in the joking are comfortable with it, they're creating a hostile work environment for everyone around them. If the supervisor makes you uncomfortable, the issue needs to be addressed.

Talk to your HR representative. Every conversation you have should be kept strictly confidential, but it wouldn't hurt to let your rep know that you do not want to be named in the report. At the very least, you'll be starting a paper trail that will follow this guy in the event that his behavior escalates.

Is It Your Womb? Then Shut Up.

Lucie writes:

I am so excited to be a grandparent to be! My son told me his wife is newly pregnant, and in my excitement I started to tell our friends and family members about the new arrival. My son found out, and he became upset with me because he asked me to not tell people yet. But how can I keep the news to myself??? This is a joyous occasion! They had trouble conceiving he finally admitted and was worried about the outcome, but I think he's just paranoid. What could possibly happen? 

Besides, all of our friends and family members are excited and so happy to know their news, so it's a good thing I shared. My son seems to be the opposite, and I think perhaps he's just not as happy as he should be. I don't know why he wants to take this away from me, but he doesn't even want to talk about the new baby. Any advice on how to make him see that this is a happy thing and he should be overjoyed like I am? This is my first grandbaby, coming in late April!

So your son asked you not to do something, and you did it anyway. When he got upset, you told him that you're just excited, and he's just paranoid, and you didn't do anything wrong.

Regardless of what the subject is - pregnancy, buying a new car, whatever - you're wrong. Your son confided in you because you're a close family member, and because he trusted you with a secret. You not only trampled that trust, but you completely dismissed his feelings of betrayal. 

Whether or not he's paranoid, you're selfish. Don't be surprised if he never tells you anything sensitive again.

And "what's the worst that could happen?" Well, let's see: miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, birth defects - there are plenty of things that can go wrong, and lots of ways to lose a baby, especially early on. I wouldn't want to have to tell people I lost a child, and I certainly wouldn't want it to be common knowledge to every random person my mother encounters in the course of a day. 

Think beyond yourself. This is not about you.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

See If You Can Guess Our Theme Today

Erica writes:

An old friend recently 'friended' me on Facebook.  Back in the day he told me that he was in love with me.  I led him on for a while but then met my current husband and let him down gently.  We kept in contact for several months after that, but as I got more involved with my husband, we lost touch.

When we first connected on Facebook, I sent him a message something like "Hey, good to see you again.  I hope your life is good."  He didn't write back.  A week later I saw lots of "Congrats, man." posts on his wall and then he changed his status to married and posted a pic from the wedding.  In other words, he friended me about a week before his wedding.

So now I'm thinking that he probably was checking in to see if I was available before he went through with the wedding.  He friended me, then saw that my status was "married" and saw pictures of my two kids and it probably broke his heart all over again.

Should I reach out to him and acknowledge what he must have been feeling before his wedding?  I feel sorry for his new wife.  No bride should have to be a runner-up.

What on earth could you possibly accomplish by doing this, aside from ruining a marriage? This may be one of the worst ideas I've ever seen in our inbox, seriously.

You may think that "no bride should have to be a runner-up", but lemme tell you something: there's no law that says he'll treat her badly, not love her, or tell her every day how he could have done so much better. He may be very much in love with her - you don't know why he friended you, after all, because he chose not to indulge in anything but a superficial online relationship with you. I know that as I approached my wedding, I thought about my exes, and even reconnected with one around the same time. It was nice to catch up with him, but it only confirmed for me that my husband is the one that I should have married, the one who's best for me. 

Your friend could have simply been indulging in something similar. It's harmless, and it's normal, and it's not all about you. I find it really quite vain of you to assume that he's still pining for you, and that his wife is only second-best. Yay for you having oodles of self-esteem, but for realz, nobody is that amazing outside of novels and movies. 

Stay out of it. 

Sure You're Not

Perplexed writes:

My best friend is currently dating a stupid little twit who frankly is a complete waste of oxygen.  To clarify, my feelings have nothing to do with jealousy.  I have no desire to be anything more than friends with him.  However it annoys me greatly to see him being taken advantage of and even more that he's too dense to pick up the fact that she is using him.  Is there any tactful way to tell my friend that his girlfriend has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and that he can and should do much much better?

Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Why does this bother you so much? If he's a twit, what do you care if he's taken advantage of? (For that matter, why are you friends with him?) 

The fact is, you don't actually know what he knows. He may be fully aware of the one-sidedness of the relationship, and simply not care. He may not actually care as much about your best friend as if appears. 

No one outside a relationship really knows what goes on inside it, and it's none of your business. Likewise, it's not your job to fix this guy's life, especially when you can't even be sure anything's broken. 

I think you need to take a look at yourself, and why this bothers you so much. I mean, it's his life; it doesn't actually affect you in any way. Are you, in fact, jealous, and in denial? Does this strike some particular chord with you - did you have a similar experience, and are still not over it? 

It's time to stop meddling and start soul-searching. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best Letter of All Time

Kevin asks:

I've been with my partner (we'll call him Jim) for three years now. We are very happy together and I thought we were moving toward a long-term commitment. Two weeks ago we were visiting his sister and brother-in-law. I came back from a walk and found Jim thumbing through a Victoria's Secret catalog that had arrived in his sister's mail. He put it down suddenly when he saw me and started talking about the weather or some such nonsense. And then today I could swear that he was making eyes at the young, attractive and very female Macy's associate at the mall. Does this mean that he might be straight? How do I ask him without upsetting him?

Bravo, man. Bravo.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Keep the Letters Coming

Seamus asks:

So are you guys bored or just not getting very many letters because you used to post several a day, or several over two days and now we just see one every other day if we're lucky??

We are certainly not bored, we just haven't been getting as many letters as we used to. Admittedly, we're saving a few in the inbox for particularly slow days or weeks, but in general we answer questions as we receive them.

If you haven't received an answer to your question yet, rest assured that you will get a reply. And if you have a question about anything, send it in!

Tuesday Quickies!

Jannie writes:

My coworker recently got a tattoo, right behind her ear. It's cute, there's no policy against it. When I noticed it because she was wearing her hair up, I told her it was such a cute tattoo, and she immediately covered it with her hand and took her hair down. Neither of us said anything after that. we worked together for about a year, so I was not sure why she reacted so weird. Did I do something wrong by saying anything?

I can't think of anything you did wrong. Complimenting someone is almost always a good idea, and unless you were backhanded with your praise ("That tattoo's so cute: it draws attention away from your freaky Spock ears!"), you were fine. 

Though if you find out why your coworker is so weird, please, give us the scoop. I'm dying of curiosity now!

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Susie asks:

Why do we say "a pair of panties" when there is only one article of clothing to which we are referring?

For the same reason we say "a pair of pants" - we have two legs, the garment has two leg holes, and we naturally turn these things into plurals. 

More specifically, because it's a derivation of a word (pants) that has no singular form, also called a plurale tantum

#            #            #

Ashamed And In Love writes:

My husband is very open to experimentation in the bedroom and for that I am happy because he loves fooling around. Lately he's asked if I would dominate him because he's curious, and if I wanted to use a strapon to teach him a lesson. I am not comfortable with this, and it makes me wonder if he has gay tenancies since he wants me to use a device to simulate gay sex acts on him. Please help.

If he owns rental properties and gay people pay him to live there, then yes. He has "gay tenancies".

If you're asking if your husband is gay because he wants to experiment? I refer you to my archives.

Elevators Are Like Common Courtesy Vacuums

Tired of getting run into asks: 

Ok, so is it just me or does common courtesy dictate that when exiting an elevator, if you are all getting off on the same floor, the people in front should exit first?

This happens more often than not at the elevator for my parking structure at work. We all are getting off on the same floor as we are all heading to work. I have been closest to the door, and when the doors open? Wham! Someone runs into me to get off before me.

Please tell me there isn't some unspoken rule I don't know about...

For some reason people lose all respect for other human beings when they're in an elevator. It's a strange phenomenon, but I've witnessed it time and again. You are absolutely right to be annoyed with your rude coworkers.

For the convenience of all our readers, I've compiled a refresher course on elevator etiquette. If you have more Do's and Don'ts, please leave them in the comments.

1. When waiting for an elevator, stand to the side of the doors. When the doors open, allow anyone who needs to to exit the elevator before you enter.

2. Hold the *&%$# door. If you hear footsteps rushing to the elevator--or worse--someone yelling "Hold it, please," why oh why wouldn't you wait for them? Are you in that much of a hurry to get to your desk?

3. Exit the elevator in a courteous and orderly manner. If it's a crowded elevator, allow the people closest to the door off first. If you're standing in the doorway but not getting off, step to the side and allow others to pass. If the elevator is not particularly crowded, women and children should be allowed to exit first (because chivalry is not dead). 

4. If you are able-bodied, never take the elevator down one floor. If you are able bodied and the building is fewer than 5 stories, never take the elevator up one floor. If the building is greater than 20 stories, never take the elevator down fewer than 5 floors or up fewer than 3. All buildings have stairs. Oftentimes, the stairs are faster than waiting for the elevator. And who doesn't need the exercise?

5. If you are taking the elevator to a place that has metal detectors, and you are alone in the elevator with a woman, do not start unbuckling your belt before the doors open. That's just creepy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Who Said Marriage Was Hard?

Patricia writes:

My husband has been working a LOT lately - he is a consultant and his practice group won more work than they anticipated, so he (and the rest of his team) have been averaging 80-100hrs/week since late May, early June, including a significant amount of out-of-state travel time.  He's been very stressed and is always focused on work, pulling several all-nighters at the tail end of this stretch.  The phrase "ships passing in the night" comes to mind.

Exactly a week ago (last Wednesday) he wrapped up his last major project (which had involved some all-nighters).  That night, I was hanging out in bed and he came upstairs - I expected him to vent about work and for the two of us to catch up.  And he vented, all right - he started by reiterating an issue we've had come up before, which is that I haven't developed the type of relationship with his family that he expected me to after we got married.  This has, in the past, boiled down to my not liking to talk on the phone, and (admitted) refusal to break that for his parents.  Now, however, it was much, much more than that - he claims that, unless we're up visiting his parents, I'm "cold" and I just "don't care."

And it went on, over the next two nights.  He told me he had essentially misled me (and possibly himself) as to major portions of his personality for the duration of our 5-year relationship.  Generally, he told me that he was unhappy with where he was in life and needed to "get away" to think about it and figure things out.  For example, he told me that he wanted to take a job that involved significant travel (3-4 days a week, regularly), and to be involved with volunteer groups and boards for business development, and would be OK with not being around the house about 6 days out of the week...but that I "kept him" from doing these things because "he knew" I wouldn't like it.  He "knows" that I don't like it, even when I specifically tell him that it's OK.

He spent two nights - Friday and Sunday - with his friends, leaving me at home with the dogs.  I generally embarassed myself multiple times when he WAS home, crying and telling him how our goals weren't mutually exclusive, how we could figure things out if he would just talk to me about the opportunities he wanted to pursue.  I begged him to understand that I was on his side and that things weren't adversarial.

Since the big outburst he has basically refused to pay attention to me and has avoided me as much as possible.  He had class Monday night after work, and stayed afterwards to "do homework."  (He would usually come home to do this.)  He emailed me Tuesday at 5:15 to let me know he was "stuck" at work and would be home at about 7:30.  He told me that he had found a networking event to go to on Wednesday evening, after our first marriage counseling session.

I've told him in no uncertain terms that I cannot deal with this.  He is pulling away from me, and I can't stop that.  I've told him more than once that this is not an acceptable way for him to deal with his issues.  While I want to help him figure things out, and while I want us to talk about these major life changes he's thrown at me and make a decision about them TOGETHER, I can't do that if he continues to withdraw and avoid me.

We saw a marriage counselor yesterday, and it seems like something that could be productive.  But he's going to his parents' this weekend on a pre-planed trip, and is traveling for work all next week (in fact, he told me specifically that they "wanted him there Monday morning," but that he would go out in the afternoon immediately after our next counseling session instead.  He opted not to go to the networking event after our first counseling session, but instead did work until about 7:45pm and then spent several hours on LinkedIn sending messages for his "networking."  He keeps telling me he hasn't checked out, and wants to make this work - he thought that sitting on his computer was "hanging out with me," and doesn't seem to know (or care) what I mean when I tell him I need us to shut up and make an effort to try to reconnect.

I'm at a loss.  Right now, and as I told him last night, I have all of the downsides of marriage (another person's schedule to be aware of, someone asking for validation and a "good job" every time they accomplish something at work, someone else's things in my house) and none of the benefits (sex, companionship, someone to split the responsibilities of running a household and walking the dogs).  My friends are telling me that he's being selfish and assy, but that counseling and time will help.  But me...I don't know if I read too much of the nest, but I feel like he's telling me, not with words but with actions, that he's "just not that into me."  I'm struggling right now with whether or not it's too soon to take "drastic" measures, like moving out.  We (and I hate saying "we," since I feel like it's really "he") have only been having these issues for a week now, but it's been months since we've had any time to spend together and just be husband and wife.  There is no practical (i.e. financial) reason for me not to leave - it's purely an emotional, is-this-really-doomed-and-if-not-how-long-do-I-stick-around-and-get-punched-in-the-gut issue.

I value your input.  Please give it.
The short answer is yes. I think it's too soon for you to take drastic measures. Your husband has been under considerable stress and pressure for months, and the two of you have been having problems for a week. Did it take you longer than a week to decide to get married? Why wouldn't you give divorce the same consideration?

Marriage is a life-long commitment. I don't care if right now you think you made a mistake. You still have a responsibility to honor your vows. The only way you'd get a pass from me is if staying in the marriage was causing you harm.

You say you're on his side, and that you support his career aspirations. But do you really? You don't speak to fondly of the last couple months when his schedule was busy. You complain that sharing your home and providing moral support to him are "the downsides" of marriage. And when he chose to work from home instead of going to an event you complained that the time you spent together wasn't quality. It sounds to me like he knows you better than you know yourself, because you are not on his side here. 
And let me just say--my husband works 80-100 hours in a slow week. I know what it's like to wish he was home more often. I also know that his drive and intelligence are two of the things that attracted me to him. If he didn't work as hard as he did, he wouldn't be the man I love. I appreciate every moment we get to spend together, even when we're both staring at our respective computer screens. Would you believe that being understanding of his schedule makes him less stressed out in his free time, which leads to more quality time for us? This is a situation where you need to adjust your expectations and choose your attitude.

I will grant you that he should have been more honest about his goals before you were married, and it was silly of him to think that putting a ring on your finger was going to magically change your relationship with his family. But it takes two to make a marriage work, and you are both going to have to give a little here.

Counseling is a step in the right direction, and the fact that you're already finding it productive is a good sign. No one is going to fix your relationship in one 50 minute session, though. It's going to take a lot of work from both of you. So start working and stop looking for the easy way out.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Googling is the New Eavesdropping

R asks:

I happened to find some stuff a supposed "friend" said about me on the internet. I was playing with Google, looking up my name, my boyfriend's name, etc. to see if things like facebook come up, and I put in my close friend's name. We arae not besties, but we're pretty close and talk almost on a daily babsis. If not on the phone, then by email. Well, I found out that she's been saying things on a forum using a name that pretty much gives herself away and also uses her signature pic as a pic of herself so I know it's her. She has told some things about me that I felt were confidential, and NEVER thought she'd tell them to anyone let alone the internet. I know what you put online is public info these days, but I thought you can still confide in a good friend. Hopefully no one we mutually know sees what she has said but just like I found her, to me there's always a chance someone else did and these things she is talking about are embarassing and personal.

I also by the way, found out some pretty disgusting personal things about her and her husband's relationship that have to do with their sex life from her posting it online. I want to know if I should confront her, or let it go? What should I do!!

Let's not pretend you stumbled upon this stuff accidentally. Unless she's using her full first and last name as her handle on an internet forum*, your search went beyond just typing her name into Google. What were you hoping to discover, and why? It sounds to me like regardless of how often you talk, you aren't actually very good friends.

Her sex life is none of your concern. Her choice to share it with the internet at large is also none of your concern. In that regard, you have nothing to confront her about.

The personal info she shared about you is your concern. If you want the stories removed, you're within your rights to confront her. Simply let her know that you found what she said about you online, and you'd appreciate it if she'd delete those posts because you'd rather not have personal identifying information out there. Understand that she will likely be embarrassed for having been caught, and could take that embarrassment out on you. So, confronting her has the potential to be friendship-ending. It doesn't really seem to me like this is a friendship worth saving anyway.

*If she is, in fact, using her full name on an internet forum, this is a whole different problem. In this case, you're going to want to point out to her the dangers of having too much personal information available online. Remind her that everything she writes can be easily found by family, friends, and potential employers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Guest-day

Christy and Kate were equally stumped by this question, so we turned to someone more knowledgeable on the topic. Guest blogger Jake kindly helped us out, and here is the letter and his response. * If any of our lovely readers has more to add, please do so in the comments. The more advice on this topic, the better. 

Cynthia writes:

Hi guys!

I have a serious question for you. Do you know of support groups for children of molestation? I have found therapy totally useless, and am not sure where to go from here. It was only recently that I fully became aware of what happened to me. I cannot truly explain how, except it just hit me all of a sudden. I initially started seeing a therapist who, after my 5th visit, still did not know my name and continued to give me "homework" in the form of reading materials. I left and tried another who had a different method but still didn't feel it was the right fit. Truthfully I've never been much for traditional ways, so this may play into my disdain and short attention span. I realize therapy isn't perfect and it certainly isn't instant but I felt as though I was just the 3:30 - 4:30 slot that needed to be filled rather than an individual.

My husband is a good ear, but I feel like I have a lot more emotions than I can possibly express to him, and he was very fortunate to never have experienced anything of this nature growing up.

I attended Alanon for a while and found that helpful but not sure if that would really come across the same for something like this.

I consider myself a pretty grounded adult. I am in a healthy relationship with a man I trust and respect and who I know trusts and respects me.

Going back to what I said before however, this realization hit me like a ton of bricks. In truth, I am not sure I want therapy. I suppose all I really want is to check myself against some sort of growth chart and make sure I'm doing ok. Unfortunately there's no such thing in this instance.

I mostly have small concerns about how I am progressing. I spent a few days crying and losing sleep about it. I let myself believe momentarily that I was somehow different than I had been just a few days before when it all seemed like a dream. I finally decided that was ridiculous and began making strides forward to keep myself from sinking down into a depression or wallowing in those emotions too long.

Now it's been about two months since the initial realization and I'm ready to talk to someone, but not a traditional therapist.

Frankly, I'm afraid to google this sort of thing.

Hi, Cynthia. Here are my thoughts:

On the topic of Therapists: When I got therapy I was lucky. The therapist that my mother found was a perfect match for me. The first time I met her it was like meeting an old friend. Also, my therapist was actually a specially licensed counselor in my State specifically for abuse and she focused mostly on childhood abuses. So perhaps the poster needs to look at the kind of therapist she is seeing.

Finding the right therapist can be difficult but potentially worth her weight in gold plated latinum. Finding the wrong one is easy, there are lots of them, but it shouldn't take more than 1session (2 sessions tops) to figure it out. Trust your gut on this one. Just remember that a therapist's primary job is to ask the questions you don't want to answer. So before you dump her, you need to ask yourself, "Am I uncomfortable with this therapist, or am I uncomfortable with the nerve she's hitting?" 

However, therapists are not always useful. If you don't feel like you are getting anything out of it at the current time then maybe you need to wait for a while (unless you like throwing away money). When I first started seeing my counselor I went once a week. Later on I went once a month and then sporadically when I felt the need. 

On the topic of recovery: It is a long, long road so thinking that you will go to a therapist or a self-help group and somehow magically get better will just lead to disappointed. There is no magic fairy dust and suddenly you are whole when once you were pieces. It's the kind of thing where you trod along the path putting one foot in front of the other day after day. Then one day you glance over your shoulder at the path and realized how far you've walked. It's not a "BING", but more of a "huh, imagine that". 

It is also like riding on the swells of the ocean. Sometimes you're up, and sometimes you're down. Hopefully over time the ups get longer and stronger while the downs get smaller and shorter. There were plenty of times when things had gotten better for me and I though, "this is it, I'm done," only to be dragged back down. But over time my ups got less dramatic, less ecstatic, less manic, less like a drowning man breaking the surface of the water to gasp a breath before sinking back into the cold black depths. Slowly my ups got longer, and more "normal". 

Also you can be glad that you have a good husband. I know from experience that your partner is like the filling in a life vest: a good one is air, a bad one is lead shot.

I support none of the following, they are just options for you:

If you're into 12 step programs: http://www.emotionsanonymous.org/

Just a couple of the many online support options:

http://www.havoca.org/HAVOCA_home.htm (has an interesting victim/survivor/thriver chart that may be of use)

*Full disclosure: Jake is Kate's husband. If you're interested in guest-posting here at WYPF, drop us an email or use the form on our Contact Us page.