In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman whose fiancé had a child with his brother’s wife.
Q. Felon Father-in-law OP: Prudie, thanks for taking my question and your advice. But your first sentence was not necessary. We know what he did was wrong, but he served his time, and we are all trying to move on. Comments like that are unhelpful, especially coming from somebody who I specifically asked for help.
A: I'm sorry you took offense, but I won't retract my thought that I think it's a shame there aren't a lot more people paying their debt to the rest of us by wearing orange jumpsuits.
Q. Creepy Colleague: I am a professional woman in my mid 20s. I have a colleague in his late 40s who sits two cubicles away from me. He is constantly eavesdropping on my phone calls, then coming up to me and talking to me like I was personally telling him this information. Recently, he has approached me and asked me about a personal trip I've had with my boyfriend that I never discussed with him. He also sent me an email late at night asking me if I could have lunch with him this week or next week. I am a friendly person, but this guy's behavior gives me the creeps. How do I tell him to butt out in a friendly way, as I have to walk by his desk every morning?
A: Next time he mentions something he's overheard say, "I'm sorry my voice must be carrying. I will keep it down because I don't want to bother you. Excuse me, I have to get back to work." As for the lunch dates just say, "Sorry, I'm busy." Stay cool and professional and keep your responses minimal. If he escalates, take your complaint to a supervisor.
Q. Brother-in-Law's Expression of Love?: My younger sister "Lisa" is 21 and has been married to "Luke" for seven months. Coincidentally (or not), she is seven months pregnant with their first child. Lisa and Luke dated less than three months before getting engaged, and I had misgivings about him from the start. He is a decade older than Lisa, has been married twice before (both ended in divorce), has a terrible credit history, and has made various misogynistic statements. I put my reservations aside, as my sister seemed genuinely happy and in love. I am friendly toward Luke since he is part of the family, although he is not the type of person I would spend time with on my own. We have never talked much more than exchanging pleasantries and small talk, and not often, as they live two states away. Fast-forward to last night, when I received a private message from Luke through a social networking site. The message was brief, but said "I just wanted to let you know that I love you with all my heart" and "you make me smile with the things you say." It made me feel very uncomfortable, and I have no idea what prompted this revelation. Do you think this is more than a brotherly expression of love? Should I respond? Should I tell my sister?
A: You can say something like, "Because my sister is pregnant with your child I will not show this message to her now and upset her. If you ever send me anything like this again, I will show her." Let's hope after the birth Lisa starts being more vigilant with birth control so that she doesn't have a bunch of kids with a guy who's guaranteed to make everyone's life miserable.
Q. Re: Creepy Colleague: Why doesn't the letter writer take her calls somewhere more private? If she's a professional twentysomething (like myself) I'm sure she has a cellphone that she could walk outside to have her private calls on. Then this creep would no longer be privy to any eavesdropping information. Just a suggestion.
A: A good suggestion—thanks.
Q. Turning Down an Endorsement Request: The father of one of my daughter's good friends in middle school has contacted me and asked me for an endorsement in the upcoming election. He's running for a city council position. I am a prominent businessman and philanthropist in our large city, and so far he hasn't been able to attract many big endorsements. The problem is, I think this man's a lousy father, businessman, and person. I don't want to endorse him at all. How can I tactfully reject his request so as to maintain our daughters' friendship?
A: Tell him that as a matter of policy you've decided not to do endorsements for this race. If you have endorsed before and he mentions that, you can say that policies are sometimes in flux and this is currently where you stand. Surely as a businessman and philanthropist you have plenty of experience telling people, "No."
Q. Re: Expression of Love: It might be that your brother-in-law intended to send the message to your sister. Consider responding with "Luke, I think you must've meant this message for Lisa." Even if the message was meant for you, hopefully the short reply will be enough to stop him. And, if he replies, "No, it's you I love," then send Prudie's suggestion.
A: Good point and suggestion. Several people have suggested that Luke's message was meant for his wife and went awry. Let's hope so, because at best he sounds like a bad bet.
Q. Pregnancy Blues: My wife "Alyson" and I are proud soon-to-be mothers. I'm pregnant with our first child, and our preparation for parenthood has been a wonderful experience up until now. Alyson has started to get a little touchy in the last month or so because of my pregnancy. She says she feels jealous that I'm the one who gets to carry our child, and now she wants to get pregnant, too! I'm trying to be as understanding as I can of her position, but I just don't think we can handle having two babies at the same time. I really want her to carry a child of her own, but how can I convince her that the timing just isn’t right and wouldn't be good for our little growing family?
A: I hope before you two embarked on parenthood you had some discussions about how many children you wanted and whether both or just one of your would carry them. If you have agreed that you would take turns bearing your children, remind Alyson that she will be up next. But for now you two need to concentrate on being the best parents you can be to the child who is on the way, rather than burdening yourselves with pseudo twins. If that doesn't do it, find a counselor who is has expertise dealing with LGBT issues to help you two sort out some very important feelings. And it could be that dealing with an infant might solve some of Alyson's desire to rush into her own pregnancy.
Q. Morally, Ethically, and Legally: Prudie, You seem rather blithe to the issue that a man has been lied to, and is raising a child that is not his own. That's a huge deception, and I can't believe you would just accept that situation if you were in the man's place.
A: I think I made clear the brother and sister-in-law who got it on are despicable. But I do not see the point in clarifying this by blowing up an entire family for no purpose.
In a new approach, we’re publishing the chat transcript in shorter, more digestible pieces. You will still be getting all the questions and answers, and we may even publish bonus letters Prudie didn’t get to address during the chat hour.