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:

Just a couple of the many online support options: (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.

That's Not Your Problem

Stef writes:

My husband changed his ringtone for my calls to a cow mooing. I happened to hear it one day because he left his phone home and I called and it started to moo. When I asked him why he chose a cow, he said it would be funny. I know I am overweight, but I don't think he needs to make a joke of it that way. It turns out that he plays it in front of his friends and they all had a good laugh about it! I am now embarrassed and not one of them told him it was disrespectful. I knew those friends were bad news. How do I get him to see that his friends influence him wrongly and do not enhance his life in a positive way?

So, your husband's an asshole, but you want advice on how to make him dump his friends. That about right?

Look, it's not his friends that are the problem. They're not unduly influencing him - it's not like he'd be a decent fellow if not for these other guys pushing him to douchetastic new heights. He's a jerk, and I have a feeling he's always been a jerk, and you married him because you thought you wouldn't do any better.

The problem here is not your husband, and it's not his friends. It's you.

You're worth more than this, Stef. You deserve to treat yourself, and to be treated by others, with dignity and respect. It has nothing to do with weight (because fat people are deserving of dignity, as well), and everything to do with the fact that you, for whatever reason, believe yourself to be undeserving of these basic human courtesies. 

Trust me: Nothing you have done in your life is bad enough to deserve this guy as a husband. So why did you pick him? 

Why do you think you need to be punished for the next fifty or sixty years?

If you don't have kids with this guy (and please, if you don't, don't start now!), I would actually look at separating for some time while you go into individual therapy to figure out why you chose a jerk. And if you think the relationship can be saved, you can try couples' therapy, but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

If there are children involved, I would still pursue individual therapy, but you must add couples' therapy as well, so that your husband learns how not to denigrate you in front of your kids. That is absolutely unacceptable, and even if you can't un-jerkify him completely, he needs to act like he respects you in front of the kids. Otherwise, they'll know they can walk all over you, and they will grow up to repeat the cycle - either by being jerks to their spouses, or by marrying assholes. 

This is no way to live. So stop living it.

Good luck, and please let us know how it goes. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Not Easy...

Sessily asks:

I love the color green, my future hubby does not. Any compromise? He thinks I go overboard, because I like sage green waall paint and wear a lot of green aand want to incorporate jade green roses as my wedding flower, and he thinks it's too much green like leprechaun vomit.

There's plenty of room to compromise here. I could see your fiance's problem if you planned to paint every room in the house green, and compliment it with green curtains, green furniture, green carpet and green kitchen appliances. However, green compliments a whole lot of colors. If he doesn't want sage walls, you could go with an earthy beige and add green accents in the rug, throw pillows, etc. For your wedding colors, pick his favorite and put the two together. You can do gorgeous things with green and blue, green and purple, green and yellow, green and brown, etc. The only combo I might stay away from is green and red, but even that could work for a Christmas wedding.

The key here is that you need to learn how to work green into a color scheme so it won't look like "leprechaun vomit," and he needs to appreciate green when it's used in moderation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun With Etymology

Curious Kat writes:

Where does the word "dingbat" come from? it's one of my favorites.

While today the word "dingbat" is commonly understood to refer to only two things - stupid,  flighty people and printers' characters - the first known use of the word is from 1838, when it was used to refer to an alcoholic drink. The word is of unknown origin, but belongs to the family of words we use when referring to something whose proper name is unknown: thingumabob, doohickey, gadget. 

According to, the word has, in its history, meant: "money," "a professional tramp," "a muffin," "a typographical ornament," "male genitalia," "a Chinese," "an Italian,""a woman who is neither your sister nor your mother," and "a foolish person in authority."

"That's what she said!"

Bet I Can Guess His Grade-School Nickname!

Serena asks:

How do I get my husband to stop picking his nose in front of me? I asked him, and I tell him to use a tissue when I catch him. I just want him to not do it.

On the plus side, at least he feels comfortable enough around you to completely forget his manners, amiright? 

I think the best way to change his behavior is to make the consequence of it so great he can't ignore it. Every time he starts booger-mining, I would leave the room. No matter what's going on, what you're involved in, I would simply stand up and leave. Don't say anything to him as you go, either. 

When you think he's probably done, come back in. When he asks what that was all about, explain that you refuse to watch him be so gross, so every time he picks his nose, you'll be leaving the room. I mean, one of you should, right? Ideally, it would be him, going to the bathroom where he can use a tissue and wash his hands, but since that's not happening, it's gotta be you. At least for the foreseeable future. 

Just Let Him Figure It Out In The Delivery Room

Rosalita asks:

Do you know of any cutie pie ways to tell my husband I am pregnant? We hadn't been trying very long, so it was quite a shock to me when I found out a few months ago. I went to the doctor and got all the necessary tests out of the way to make sure everything is going according to schedule. I had my recent first trimester scan and saw the whole face and fingers and hands! I was thinking of showing him the sonogram picture and telling him this is our baby! I have to think of something before I really REALLY start to look pregnant! He just thinks all the sex we keep having is really making a difference in my figure lol. Are balloons overkill?

I think at this point you need to stop looking for cutie pie ways to reveal your pregnancy and start looking for cutie pie ways to say, "I'm sorry I deprived you of the first trimester of our child's life." I can't even imagine taking a pregnancy test without telling my husband. You went to the first sonogram without him? It's not even like this is a surprise pregnancy (though it seems like it was to you, despite the fact that you had been trying).

Really, it doesn't matter how you tell him. Sure, get balloons. Put the sonogram in a cutesy "World's Best Daddy" frame. Who cares. Just tell the poor man that you're having a baby, and he has 3 fewer months to get the nursery ready than most dads do.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

That's Okay, I Didn't Like Snacks at the Movies, Anyway.

Alvina writes:

My feet are quite fragrant towards the middle of the day, and I like to kick my shoes off at my desk and let them air out. I am not offended by the aroma and I often enjoy it. How do I know if someone else may be offended in the desks next to mine, should I just ask them? It's sometimes like popcorn so it's actually pretty pleasant.

No, it's not. It's disgusting. I would put actual cash money down that your coworkers are wondering how to tell you to keep your damn shoes on. 

If you want to smell your grody foot stank, feel free to do so - in your own home. 

Wait, Parent Is A Verb?

Eekers writes:

What do you think is wrong with this kid? We were visiting my cousin the other day, and my cousin was talking to her older daughter in the bedroom privately. Her 6 year old kept running and throwing herself into the door to get her mother's attention. I told her to stop, my husband told her to stop, and her reply was "but I need to talk to mom!"

Well, her mom came out, yelled at her because she was talking and she shouldn't interrupt her without knocking, but then she told the kid she'll come out of the room to spend time with her, and then picked her up to give her a hug and kiss. I was so annoyed about it, but hey, it's not my kid. I just want to know if that's normal behavior for a 6 year old or maybe if it's because I know nothing about children.

Normal for the six-year-old? Yes. As the parent of one myself, I can say that they hate to be left out of things - they always think they're missing something. Totally understandable that she would try to get her mother's attention.

But. Your cousin is doing that kid absolutely no favors by failing to discipline her. Make no mistake: even though she yelled, her daughter knows - because of the hug, kiss, and kowtowing to her wishes - that Mom is never really going to mean what she says. She already knows that she doesn't have to listen to adults: she failed to listen to you or your husband, right? Cousin is teaching this kid that she's entitled to have things her way, all the time, and that's going to serve her very ill in life indeed.

Of course, there's nothing for you to do about it. Just realize that if you want to see your cuz, you'll have to put up with Precious Little Bratleigh, too. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Pitfalls of the Information Age

Fran asks:

HELP!!! My wedding website is on my STD but no one is using it to check out the hotel accomodations for my out of town wedding, and they keep calling me and asking me for informaiton, and I tell them to just check out the website because all the informaiton is there, but they say they don't have time to do that. So I end up letting all these calls go to voicemail because *I* don't have time to instruct people how to do the internet. I even made sure instructions were clear: There are 2 hotels, the addresses and phn numbers are listed. The proximity to the airport, the rates for several room types at each property, and the cancellation policy, and the number to call in order to book the rooms, and the name and group number for the blocked rate we arranged. We also have an RSVP feature that tells them to add their name if they want to be added to the rooming list if they did not book with the group. My wedding is in 3 months! HOW can I make it easier for them, and FOR ME???

Unfortunately, one of the less fun aspects of hosting a large event is dealing with redundant questions from guests. A lot of people don't have access to high speed internet, and many--especially older generations--may really not understand how to access the information you've provided. There's nothing you can do to change their behavior, and so instead we turn to changing the way you react.

To make things easier on yourself, have the information handy in a printable or email-able format to provide to anyone who calls with questions. That way, instead of spending 30 minutes waiting for Aunt Mary to remember which little icon thingy to click to get to the internets, you can let her know that you're mom will give her the list of hotels when they meet for dinner next Sunday. For close friends or relatives you speak with often, a casual email is appropriate. You could even snail mail the information to the extreme Luddites.

And here's a little piece of bonus advice: leave your cell phone at home on the wedding day. It sounds like you might have the type of guests who wouldn't think twice about calling in the middle of your hair appointment to get directions to the church. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How About That Sense Of Entitlement?

Annry asks:

I recently bought a dress on Ebay from a local bridal shop who seemed to be selling dresses at a low low price. The dress I wanted retails for $2500, but I bought it online for only $750 and transfered my money from my bank account, shipping was free with the buy it now option. They said the dress would arrive in 3 weeks, but then 6 weeks came and went and they did not reply to my emails. I decided it was time to go to the store in person and they had no record of my dress. What is worse is, they also said they do not sell discounted dresses on Ebay and there is nothing they can do because apparently someone took the name of their store without permission and is claiming to sell dresses! It's a scam and they had other brides come in who had done the same thing. I was furious, and felt that they should still honor the order I placed because it was in their company's name! They said they can offer me a discount if I wanted to order the dress I wanted, but then I'd actually pay more for the dress because of the original price of $750 I already paid. How do I get the store to honor this agreement and just order me the dress I want???

Why do you think the store owes you anything? They never made an agreement with you, some anonymous scammer on the internet did. Having their name used illegally does not make them responsible for the sale. 

It sounds like you just learned an expensive lesson in how to do business on eBay. Never, ever bid on a big ticket item without doing your research. And I'm not just talking about looking at the seller's rating. Read the feedback, look at the sale history, contact the seller.

You know the old saying, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"? Did you wonder why a local store would sell dresses online for a third of what they sold for in store? Did you call the store to confirm the sale?

The bottom line here is that you were careless. It sucks to get scammed, and I'm sorry it happened to you, but it's absolutely not up to the store to take take the financial hit for your mistake.

It's time to start focusing your efforts on more constructive ways to fix this problem. First, report the scam to eBay. They can't catch everyone, but obviously it's in their best interest as a company to keep scammers off the site. Also, depending on your payment method, you may be able to get at least a partial refund. PayPal offers some limited scam protection, or your credit card company may have a way to reverse the sale. So contact them and see what you can do about getting your money back.

This is Probably Not the Answer You Were Hoping For

Christine writes:

I have a question, how can I get my boyfriend to be nicer to me in front of other people? I am non confrontational so I will let things go until we're home alone, but when we are around other people I just give him a look and so far it's not working. I don't know how to approach the subject. For instance, I once tripped over a phone cord that was hanging from the phone to the wall jack, and the phone was on the table. My boyfriend said, "Jesus, clutz, watch what you're doing!!" and his mother was there and told him to not be so harsh. I tried talking to her about hs attitude but she didn't want to get involved. And again I bought a new car and certain things are new to me! So I was talking to his sister and I told her that my car uses so much more gas when I have the air conditioner on, and he went out loud, "OH DER!! No kidding!" His sister came to my defense and said that he should be nicer because I'm a girl and don't know that much about cars. So now I feel like his family knows he can be nicer but they don't want to help. What do I do? He's really cool and nice otherwise.

Just so we're clear, your telling me that when your boyfriend isn't being verbally abusive, he's really cool and nice. Okay. Dump him. He's being verbally abusive. I guarantee you can find a really cool and nice guy who's not going to give you crap for everything you do and say.

If his family isn't willing to step in, they're enabling his bad behavior. Why would you want to be around people who do this?

Read this next part twice so it sinks in:

You are too good for this. Everyone is too good for this. The only way that this man will learn he can't treat you like this is if you don't allow him to treat you like this. Every day you stay with him, you're allowing it. So dump him.

Maybe (and this is a huge maybe, so don't get your hopes up) he'll see the error of his ways, he'll realize you're worth changing for, and he'll seek help. If that happens, then you get to decide whether or not giving him another chance works for you. I wouldn't recommend it, though. People like this rarely change.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Bed is the Least of Your Worries.

S. A. writes:

My fiance became sick recently with really bad flu symptoms. He was hospitalized for 2 days because of the fluids he lost and they thought it might have been a form of meningitis. Thank goodness he's home and getting better, but he's still feeling sick. I offered to stay home with him and even had the time approved, and we live together, but my future mother in law insisted I save my vacation time for the wedding. Well, this was fine, until I came home to find my future mother in law giving my husband a bath in our master bathroom, and she was in her bra and panties. My jaw dropped and I went to leave when she apologized for letting herself in my home unannounced. She recovered when I walked in the bathroom and said she got her clothes wet helping him into the tub, but her clothes were laying on my bed (MY SHARED BED WITH MY FUTURE HUSBAND) and they were completely dry. I think it was very awkward for my fiance as well, and he hasn't said anything about it. Do I dare think he and his mom have an inappropriate relationship? I mean they seem like a normal family, but it's not like my husband still has a fever or anything and is fully capable of showering by himself when I was home the day before with him.

I'm concerned that the part of this story you seem most upset about is that your future mother-in-laws clothes were on your bed, and not that your future husband was naked in a bathtub with his mother. Yes, you should think he and his mom have an inappropriate relationship. I wouldn't even take the time to ask him about it, I'd be too busy packing my things and getting out of there as fast as humanly possible.

The Name Game

Lainey asks:

Help!! I don't have a problem taking my husband's last name as a woman, you know? I WANT to be Mrs. His Last Name. But my finace just proposed (YAY!!) and I think he has the ugliest last name imaginable. It's never crossed my mind before, but I don't want to be known as Mrs. Schnitz, which is hella ugly!! How do I tell him I don't want to change my last name because his is so ugly?? I would rather keep my name and have our kids go by Schnitz Baker and then just Baker in school because Schnitz is so weird. I don't want to hurt his feelings!

So you've been dating this guy long enough to get engaged and whether or not you'd take his last name never came up in conversation?

At the end of the day, your last name is your decision. If you want to keep your maiden name, you really don't owe your fiance any explanation beyond "it's my name and I'm keeping it." When it comes to your children, however, it's a touchier subject. He has just as much right to share his last name with his children as you have to share yours. And there is no way to tell him his name is weird without hurting his feelings.

There are some compromises. You could change both your last names to something mutually agreeable. Some people give their sons the father's last name and their daughters the mother's last name.

Or, you could embrace the funny last name and make it your own, so to speak. I know plenty of people who have potentially awful last names that really seem to enjoy them. My own maiden name is virtually impossible to spell or pronounce, and when you say it correctly, it sounds like you just sneezed. But I loved it, and I was happy to have a last name that not a lot of people had. I changed it not because I found my husband's name any more or less desirable, but because I wanted our family to share one name.

Think about it this way, if your children's last name is Schnitz, you won't be tempted to name them things like Neveah Imunique Baker to make them stand out.