Not-So Buried Secret
In a live chat, Prudie advises a mother who gave the family dog away but told her son it died.
A: If you and your husband were still married and you were expecting another child, your daughter would be worried about being replaced as the baby. Since you have more than one child you went through this yourself. I assume you didn't reassure the oldest that the new baby wouldn't really count. Your mother was out of line and you should have corrected her privately, and then told your kids you disagree with what grandma said. Yes, she was right that their new sibling will have a different mother and won't live with you all the time. But you disagree with their grandma about feeling differently about this child than they do about each other. Tell them they are going to have a new brother or sister who will grow up thinking they are the greatest. Brava for your husband's new wife for wanting his existing children to be fully part of this expanding family. My husband grew up with two older half siblings and though he came to understand they had a different father than he and his younger brother, the entire family was treated as a unit and he makes no emotional distinction between his "half" and "full" siblings. If people are lucky, that's the way it should turn out.
Q. The Girl at the Office: A new girl just started at our office and I think I'm in love with her. We can talk to each other for hours and seem to have everything in common from music tastes, favorite childhood TV shows, political affiliations, and hobbies. She's funny, intelligent, beautiful, and she hit me like a train. One day I was bummed over being dumped by my ex, and the next day she came waltzing into the office and we became fast friends. The problem is she has a man already. I can't get her out of my head—I force myself to stop thinking about her at least a hundred times a day. I think it's possible that she might have some similar type of feeling about me, but she also seems very committed to her boyfriend. I'm wondering if I should pursue this girl? Should I make my feelings clear to her? There's no issue with us being at the same office—our field is a bit liberal with things like this. I truly think I'm in love with her.
A: I think the operative sentence here is the one about being dumped by your ex, and the "next day" the perfect girl just waltzes in your office. Ask yourself if you were still with your ex whether this new co-worker would be messing with your mind. She's obviously enjoying your company, and is obviously making it clear that she has a boyfriend and is committed to him. She might be emphasizing that because she doesn't want this office flirtation to get out of control. You say this is all very recent. You're an adult so you know how infatuation works, and this one has hit you "like a train." So don't let yourself get derailed. Please don't declare your love—if you did declare something about your sudden, profound feelings the chances are she will be very uncomfortable and brush you off, and then it's going to get very awkward in the coffee room. Continue to be friendly, but instead of whiling away the work day with her ("we can talk for hours...") limit the conversation and concentrate more on your duties. If over time she starts realizing her boyfriend's not the one and you are, then let her make the first move.
Q. Move With Ailing Parents: My husband was recently offered a promotion within the same company he currently works—but it is contingent on a move to about six hours away by car (1½ hours by plane) from his hometown, where we live. Our children are still a year away from kindergarten and there is a market for my profession in the new city. The downside of this move is my mother-in-law, who is in the final stages of an aggressive form of cancer. Obviously, my entire family is affected by this horrible and sudden illness. But my husband might not get another opportunity like this for a long time and he is considering taking it and coming back on weekends to see his mother. With his promotion, he will get more flex time and working-from-home opportunities that would make this a feasible option. My sister-in-law was irate when we brought up the potential move. (We would be relocating after the Christmas holidays.) We feel that the timing of the move, in combination with my husband's new position, will provide him with plenty of time to see his mother. My sister-in-law feels we are abandoning his mother and leaving her with the "heavy lifting." My husband and I are really torn. We want to do the best thing for our entire family, but it is really unclear what that best thing is right now. Any advice would be appreciated.
A: This is an agonizing choice, and I'm sure your mother-in-law would want to see as much of her loved ones as possible for as long as possible. But I'm hoping her wish would be that her son put himself in the best position to advance his career and provide for his family in the long run. I think he should take the job. You would not be moving until the end of the year. I know you don't want to say it, but I can: Since your mother-in-law is in the final stages of her illness, it may be that she only has a few more months to live. If she hangs on, a 1½ hour flight is easily manageable and your husband should be able to see his mother on many weekends. It's true that in that case more work will fall to your sister. But as your move approaches, all of you should discuss hospice care so that no matter how many family members are around, your mother's physical needs are being met by skilled professionals. Frankly, your choice does not require sign-off by the rest of the family, and if your sister-in-law starts badgering, your husband can tell her he told the company he needs more time to decide, he doesn't want to debate this with her, and they can all agree that for now everyone wants to concentrate on helping their mother.
Q. Do Long-Term Couples Need Condoms? After being in a monogamous relationship for six months, I suggested that my boyfriend and I stop using condoms. (Neither of us has an STD.) He replied that he wants to control his own fertility, and he's not willing to rely on me to be in charge of contraception. He always used condoms with past GFs. But I have an IUD, a highly reliable form of contraception with little possibility for user error, and I hate using condoms! I thought men did, too. So I waited another six months and brought it up again, but he hasn't changed his mind. I respect his desire to take responsibility for birth control, but after a certain point in a relationship, shouldn't he be able to trust me with it? I would never intentionally get pregnant without his consent.
A: I have a theory: Sure, your boyfriend may want to be extra careful about procreation, but he may find that the reduction in sensitivity the condom provides helps increase the time you spend not procreating. He's comfortable with them, and he's declined to stop using them on several occasions, so let this go. If you start thinking of them as a pleasure enhancer instead of reducer, you may hate them a lot less.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. I've got to now tell my daughter that our late beagle, Sasha, is not romping on a farm.
Going forward, we’re spreading out the chat, publishing the transcript in a shorter, more digestible form. You will still be getting all the questions and answers (just not all at once).