A: It's the rare abuser who's noxious all the time—then there's no incentive for the victim to stay. Your family's advice is terrible. No one should tiptoe through life to avoid getting hit or harangued. If you want to try to save the marriage, tell your husband you need counseling because this is not the marriage you signed up for. If he refuses, your situation is complicated by the fact that you are not a citizen. So find a lawyer who can talk you through the steps you need to take to get free. And if your husband hits you again, call the police.
Q. Accused of Theft: I was falsely accused of stealing (shop-lifting at a local store) when I was 10. My mom stood by me, but 20 years later it still stings because I was innocent. I would love an apology from that person because it’s nice to be vindicated. Send a note of apology. It costs you nothing and will likely make her feel better.
A: It's an awful thing to be falsely accused—I agree the mother needs to step up and clear this child.
Q. Family Issues: My father died unexpectedly in April, and it's been a tough year for my mother, sister and me. My mom seems to have handled things about as well as could be expected, and after I recently mentioned that I was considering joining a dating site she told me that she had considered making a profile as well. I was surprised, but not upset—I had been secretly worrying that maybe she would choose to be alone the rest of her life. I told her I would be OK with it because I wanted her to have companionship. My sister, however, called me and flipped out. Sis thinks that Mom is trying to "replace" Dad. She says she can't believe Mom would consider this, since it hasn't even been a year. When I cautiously said I wasn't that upset about it, my sister got mad and hung up the phone. Should I be more upset/concerned that my mom is thinking about trying to date again? Should I also be worried that it's too soon? My sister has always been a drama queen, but she made me feel guilty for not being as riled up as she was. Or am I being too cavalier about the whole thing?
A: Your mother doesn't need her daughters' permission to seek companionship. You might tell your sister her reaction has you concerned that she hasn't completely dealt with your father's death and maybe she should see a grief counselor. Reassure her that your mother is not seeking to, and never could, replace your father. But it is a good sign that she feels ready to date. Tell your mother you're pleased she is coming out of her mourning and that it's unfortunate your sister is reacting so badly to these positive steps.
Q. Made Friend Cry: I have a work friend who, over the last several years, has spilled over into personal friend. She is a VERY high maintenance person; plus I always have to watch my tone and what I say/or how I say something, as she will jump down your throat at the drop of a pin. Today, I came in with a haircut that was much shorter than it has been in a year. Last time I cut my hair this way she constantly referred to me at fuzz head and told me I looked like her dog. First thing this morning when she walked into my office, I got the fuzz head/dog remark. In the past I had just let it roll off my shoulders, but it being Monday and me being tired, I told her—did not snap—that it hurt my feelings when she called me that and please to not do it anymore. She started crying and said she did not mean it that way and has now stopped talking to me. Question: count my blessings or apologize?
A: Blessings! Now that you know a cross word will send her into a silent snit, be ready to say, "Bad dog!" every day at the coffee machine.
Q. Semi-Famous Blogger Crosses a Line?: My daughter is in second grade and is good friends with a girl whose mother writes a blog that has extensive readership. I read her blog and she is very careful to never mention any of her daughter's friends by name or post their photo. However, she posts her daughter's photo and writes blog posts about her frequently. In the past few weeks, my daughter and some of their other friends have started wanting their parents to write about them, too. I think these girls are at the age where female competition rears its ugly head and they are jealous that their friend is broadcasted on the Internet for lots of people to see when they are not. Is this something I should bring up with this girl’s mother? If I were her, I would want to know that my actions were causing some friction between young girls.
A: Does the blogging mom have a video link to her daughter's birth? I'm going to guess that in just a few years the other girls will be very glad their mother is not telling the world about how their puberty is going. Let the blogging mother do as she wishes, but it would be fun if you and your daughter created a scrapbook together of your child's adventures.
Q. Daughter's Adoptive Baby: I have been reading you for ages. My daughter is a very successful businesswoman, a senior vice president at a company you would recognize. She is also 37 and single, sacrificing a personal life for a professional one. Lately she has been exploring the option of adopting a foreign baby and being a single mother. I tried to explain to her that celebrities make this look far more glamorous than it actually is. I told her that she chose a career over a family quite some time ago and trying to have both now is going to be extremely difficult. She got upset and told me that what she is doing is perfectly normal. My husband and I are divorced, and I know how hard being a single mom can be. How can I explain this to her differently?
A: You can stop projecting your life on hers and support her if she decides to take this step. If you live nearby, I hope you would be part of a support system—that you would want to be—for her grandchild. Of course being a single mother is hard, but a competent professional like your daughter will have the financial means and the organizational skills to make this work as well as it can. It is rather cruel of you to say to your child that her dedication to her career means she must forgo motherhood.
Q. Housekeeper: This is a problem I am sure a lot of people would love to have. My boyfriend and I are in our late 20s and we both have good salaries. We talked about moving in together and we are fairly compatible. But here is the thing: He has a housekeeper. (That sound you hear is all my girlfriends rolling their eyes.) I do not think we need a housekeeper. Two people keeping a two bedroom apartment clean should be manageable. He thinks that if he hates to clean and can afford to pay somebody else he should. While I can't see anything outright wrong with that, part of me feels like he is indulgent and immature. I don't like to do a lot of things, but I do them anyway. He told me that if we let the housekeeper go then I will be totally responsible for all the cleaning. I think that is also unreasonable. Why can't he just pick up after himself? What if we can't afford a housekeeper in the future? Will he have any idea how to be self-reliant? Is it so wrong that I think we should be responsible for keeping such a small space clean?
A: Please dump this guy so he can find someone who will appreciate that a man who wants to pay someone a fair wage to keep his apartment clean is a keeper.
Q. Neighbor With Chickens: My neighbor has chickens that she keeps in a coop in her fenced backyard. As her immediate neighbor, sometimes when the wind blows a scent into our yard that is noticeable, but not terrible. My dogs are very interested in the smell of the chickens and spend a great deal of time scratching at our shared fence. This irritates my husband because he thinks that the whole purpose of a fence is to let the dogs out without constant supervision and now there are unsightly scratch marks. My husband checked the zoning in our neighborhood and the subdivision policy and both of them forbid owning chickens. My husband wants to report her and to get the chickens removed. I am not sure if this is necessary. I am sure owning chickens in a residential neighborhood is a fad that will go away soon and it does not bother us enough to justify reporting a neighbor and potentially sticking her with a fine. We decided to go to Prudie (and her readers!) with help on this issue. Is it worth it to potentially upset a neighbor and stick her with a fine for a mild inconvenience on our part?
A: A neighbor with an illegal chicken coup should be smart enough to give those living nearby an occasional clutch of fresh eggs as an incentive to keep quiet. Even in the absence of chickens my dog barks loudly at every bird, squirrel, and leaf. I agree with you that making an enemy of your neighbor because your dogs are interested in their chicken coop seems scrambled.
Q. Domestic Abuse and Visas—Important: Here's an article from the Post that explains a bit about the options for women who are victims of domestic abuse. To summarize: this is one area of immigration law that we've gotten right, finally!
A: Thanks for the link.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Have a great week, talk to you next Monday.