Q. Too Many Toys!: My mother-in-law loves spoiling our 18-month-old twins. She buys them both an outfit and a new toy almost every week. Our house is overflowing with flashy toys, stuffed animals, onesies, bath toys ... you get the picture. We literally don't have room for anything else in our home. I talked to MIL about this months ago, and she dismissed me outright. Since I couldn't convince her to stop bringing the gifts, I began selling them online and saving the proceeds in an education fund for the twins. When MIL found this out, she became furious that I have so little consideration for her. She says I need to be more thankful for all the effort she puts into making the twins' childhoods memorable, and that I don't have any right to sell her gifts to her grandkids. My husband says he feels stuck between a rock and a hard place and refuses to take sides. Is there any way to reason with this woman?
A: You have tried to reason with her, now just benefit from her. Thank her for each and every gift, then turn the ones you don't want into cash. Don't tell her what you're doing, but when she comes over, if she expects to see all her clothes and gifts, explain that some the kids outgrew and some they couldn't use. If she stomps around like Rumpelstiltskin, ignore her. If she stops sending gifts, problem solved. If she continues, turn her generosity into college tuition.
Q. Fiancé Wasn't My First: I'm engaged to marry this really sweet man, but I have a problem I'm not sure if I should tell him about. He's not the first partner I've had in his family. I lost my virginity to his older brother in high school. You'd think this would be a no-brainer because these kinds of secrets get out eventually, but my fiancé's brother was killed in an accident not long after our encounter, and I'm pretty sure he didn't tell anyone about our little fling. Do I owe this information to my fiancé, or is this a secret I can take with me to my grave?
A: In the Bible a lot of people hooked up with siblings, but that seemed to be explained by the fact that there weren't that many people to choose from. My inbox certainly is indicating that keeping it in the family is a hot new trend. I wrote not long ago that people are entitled to their sexual pasts without having to spill all to their current loves. I made an exception for material facts such as one's STD status, or having slept with your boyfriend's brother. You slept with your fiancé's brother, even though your story comes with a tragic ending. You're right that the fact that up to now no one has said anything might mean that it will never come out. But whenever you two are around people who knew you back when, you will live in fear that someone will make a crack about your having a thing for the men of your husband's family. Tell you fiancé. This will be emotionally complicated news, but he's entitled to know.
Q. Re: 45 and Pregnant: I tried for years to get pregnant, had three miscarriages, spent a fortune at a world-renowned fertility clinic at 40 and 41, and got kicked out for not getting pregnant. I got pregnant the usual way and had a healthy baby boy at 42. I always wanted a second child, my husband was ambivalent. I got pregnant unexpectedly at 45, and got completely freaked out. The likelihood of a seriously impaired baby (if it is even born live) are enormous. I know this because I spent a lot of time between 42 and 45 looking into this. If you think you cannot take care of a seriously disabled child on your own (and there is no shame in acknowledging this), then you must terminate. But talk to your gynecologist first. I was lucky—although we were contemplating terminating pretty much as soon as we discovered the pregnancy, I miscarried at 7 weeks.
A: As you confirm, miscarriage is a high risk in this situation. So is genetic defect, although it is not a certainty. Some people are pointing out it's ambiguous as to whether the father actually knows the LW is pregnant. If we know and he doesn't, that needs to be rectified pronto.
Q. Forever Till Divorce?: In order to protect my assets, I have asked my fiancée for a prenup. It was awkward to bring it up but fortunately she agreed. I encouraged her to review it with her own attorney before signing. She came back to me with an odd proposal. She has no problems with the prenup itself, but she wants to alter our wedding vows. Specifically, instead of better or worse, she wants to say something like "I take you as my husband/wife for the foreseeable future unless otherwise arranged." She wants to include similar phrases throughout the vows—"I forsake all others, until death or divorce parts us." "This ring symbolizes my current love for you." She says using words like "eternal" or "till death" are contradictory to prenups, which prepare for a potential divorce. I wonder if she is just being passive aggressive, but she insists it's necessary to avoid contradictions in our wedding vows and prenup. What should I do?
A: How nice of you to "encourage" your fiancée to review this contract with a lawyer. I assume if you're someone with enough assets to need the protection of a prenup, you're also sophisticated enough to know that no one should sign a contract like that without their own legal representative reviewing it for them. But it sounds as if you're not a sophisticated enough partner to recognize sarcasm and dripping resentment when you hear it. It may be that you built a thriving business prior to meeting your beloved, or you are a member of a wealthy family and a prenup is simply a sensible business decision. It could be that you just have a nice condo, a better car, and more in the bank than the woman you propose to spend your life with, so you want to make sure that if you decide to trade her in, she doesn't get your Lexus. In any case, you two should not go through with the wedding until you resolve the issues your assets have raised.
Q. Re: Law School CPA: I am a CPA that just graduated from law school and I had an incredibly difficult time finding a job, even with a solid career history. Also, the pay offered to law school grads is nowhere near comparable to what CPAs are making. I'd urge the husband to wait a few years until the economy rebounds, and during that time they can start saving up a financial cushion to ride on while he is in school.
A: It's distressing but not surprising to hear this. Thanks for the update from "out there."
Q. My Family's Swing Vote: This will be my first election ever, and I'm really excited to vote. My parents are both political junkies and do a lot of volunteer work. The problem is they are in opposite parties. This has never been a problem at home since they are very good at agreeing to disagree and respecting each other's opinions. But its different being stuck in the middle. I'm pretty sure I know who I'm voting for, but I haven't told either my mom or dad and they keep trying to convince me their guy is better. Do you think I should just tell them who my candidate is they might just accept it and stop campaigning for my vote?
A: Tell them that if they each were on television as part of a political ad, you would change the channel. If they were phone canvassers, you would hang up. If you want to tell them who you're voting for, fine. But don't expect that will shut up the other one. If you don't want to tell, remind them that in this country we have a secret ballot.
Q. Re: Dating My Ex's Sister: My husband actually married sisters. After he divorced the youngest, he married the other sister, which also ended in divorce. When we first started talking, it was a red flag to me and, at the expense of sounding rude, I asked what on earth he was thinking! We continued talking for a few months and finally started dating, which allowed me time to conclude that he really was sane, but like all humans, makes (very) bad decisions sometimes.
A: It's a good thing for both of you that he ran out of that family's sisters!
Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. Talk to you next week.
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.