Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. An edited transcript of this week's chat is below. (Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Read Prudie's Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Q. In Response to Niece With Her Deceased Aunt's Jacket: I totally agree with your advice but I would add something. The niece may want to wait one or two years and then call the daughter and offer her the jacket then. After my mother passed away, I did not realize until later how much I would treasure the things of hers that I kept. Sometimes I carry a purse or wear a necklace that was my mother's, and it's very comforting. It left me feeling later like I should have kept more. If the niece wants to offer the jacket back later, the daughter may appreciate it, even though she doesn't want it now.
A: Thanks for this sensitive advice. But the offer shouldn't be, "I never wear this thing, do you want it back?" But, "I've loved this beautiful jacket, and I was thinking that now that you're older, it might be something you'd enjoy wearing."
Q. RE: Bad Luck Bride: For the price of tailoring and alterations, the bride could rent a wedding dress for the day.
A: Good advice. And no temptation to wear it yet again!
Q. How Much Hobby Sharing Can Spouses Expect From One Another?: As strictly a hobby, I write fictional novels in the evenings after my daughter goes to bed. I am a stay-at-home mom more by circumstance than by desire, though I have loved being there for my daughter. This activity has given me a chance to step into a fictional world for a few hours a night and something to do as my husband is fooling with his computer modeling, music, various artistic pursuits, or video games for the evenings after a day of work for him. I try to be supportive of his hobbies. Is it too much for me to ask for him to read what I write? The only friend I have I feel comfortable enough to read what I write is visually impaired and does most of her reading through audio books. He just never gets around to it when I do ask. I gave him an early draft of a novel I was messing around with and have since finished two sequels to it. I know they will never go farther than taking up memory space on my laptop hard drive, but I still want it to be the best I can make it, and to me that includes having someone I love and trust read it.
A: In her recent memoir, Joyce Carol Oates reveals her late husband didn't read her novels. Of course, she wrote a novel a day, so maybe it was too much to ask. If you even harbor secret dreams of someone besides your spouse reading your work, I think you need to get braver and join a writing circle, or take a class in which others are forced to read your work. Your husband may be the most sensitive, brilliant reader you'd ever encounter and he's unkindly refusing to be your Lionel Trilling. Or he may be thinking, "I love her, but if I have to read one more word about a sexy werewolf, I'm going to kill myself. " Don't make reading your trilogy a test of your marriage.
Q. Re: Mistress: As someone that has been the other woman, I was angry at first when my sister and friends told me what I was doing was wrong, but as time went on I realized not only was I helping to break up a family, I was also with a guy that had no problem hurting his family. Probably not a guy you want to be with. Talk to your friend.