Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at email@example.com.)
Q. Hairy girlfriend: I love my girlfriend very much and at the age of 27 feel like I’m finally with somebody who I could spend my life with. I have been supportive of her naturalist attitude regarding hair removal and even find her hairy pits, legs, and other parts sexy. The trouble is that she also has scattered hairs growing across her chest and about a dozen long ones around each nipple. How can I explain to her that although I support her natural ways and was well aware of her preference going into things, that a little bit of removable would go a long way? It's the nipple hair that really throws me. When I've brought it up she's acted offended and explained to me that it's natural for women to get hair all over. She says she could pluck them but they will just grow back. I'm really falling for this girl but am fearful that as we age it's going to become more and more of a turn off until our sex life is dead.
A: I've got one word for your girlfriend: electrolysis. A few sessions with the needle will leave your girlfriend's chest hair free. Yeah, it hurts, but it's no worse than a bikini wax and it's permanent! The issue is convincing her. I think it's great you're into her arm and leg hair, but she should be able to accept that the primate look on her chest (I advise you not to use that phrase) is not standard. I understand that she's touchy about this, but if you handle it lightly, you might get her to come around. Emphasize you find her greatly sexy and you love that she's a natural woman. Say that this is a little thing that's distracting to you, and because she could take care of it pretty easily, you'd consider it a loving gesture on her part.
Q. Law School Husband: My husband and I have been married for five years and have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. Since we met, my husband has been kicking around the idea of going to law school, but never (even with my encouragement and support) took the LSAT when we were dating or even early in our marriage. He finally took the exam over the winter and got a good score. This fall he is submitting applications to law schools. However, I am dreading this process. We are both CPAs and make a good combined income, but cutting out an income and adding on tuition would be pushing the limit of our finances. My husband offered to take out student loans, but I cringe at that thought since we just paid off our undergrad loans. My husband feels that law school is "his dream" and he doesn't want to give it up. On one hand I understand that, but on the other hand this will put a financial strain on our family. From a practical standpoint, l think he had plenty of time to pursue this dream after college, but now we have a mortgage and two very young children to consider. I want to approach this with respect for his dream but also the practical considerations of our family. Any advice would be really appreciated.
A: Your husband must have been spending so much time poring over other people's books that he's neglected to read about the prospects for new law school graduates. I'll sum up: not good. Sure some of the 40,000 lawyers being churned out each year are finding decent jobs, but overwhelming numbers are not. I agree with you that having pursued a demanding, expensive educational path, now is not the time for your husband to drop a lucrative career. It especially is not the time to take on enormous debt and reduce your income. You are both CPAs so it seems that the best way to approach this is with some spreadsheets doing cost-benefit analyses, looking at the data on the prospects for new law school graduates, and crunching the numbers on what it would mean to have your husband out of the workforce for three years. This doesn't mean he can never pursue his dream, but it seems to make a lot more sense to defer it until the economy is more welcoming and your finances more robust.
Q. Tough Decision: I am 45 years old, madly in love with my husband, and we have been childless by choice. Meaning he didn't want any, I was ambivalent, and we've been happy with our life. Three days ago I found out I am pregnant. While I have no fantasy about what parenthood would be like, I find myself unable to contemplate an abortion. Even though I am strongly pro-choice and had an abortion 25 years ago and have no regret about it. My husband does not want a child, and I do not want to live my life without him. I want him more than I want a baby. At this age, it seems incredibly risky to go through a pregnancy to give a child up for adoption. And who knows if I'd be able to actually give the baby up once I see it. My mind is spinning. Am I missing an option here?
A: OK, here I go practicing medicine (actually going to medical school would have been such a drag). You are a 45-year-old woman who is in the very early stages of pregnancy. A late in life pregnancy is a high-risk one, your fetus is a higher risk for birth defects, and you are more likely than a younger woman to have a miscarriage. Before you do anything else, see your gynecologist and discuss all these issues. Both you and your husband are in shock, and you are facing a difficult dilemma. But while you are reeling is not a good time to make life-altering decisions. Yes, you don't have all the time in the world, but you do have some. I think you've covered all the options here, but what you haven't taken into account is how you both might feel in a few weeks when you've had more time to contemplate the implications of each course of action. And it could be that a neutral party can help you and your husband explore what this amazing turn of events would mean for the rest of your lives.
Q. Dating My Ex's Sister: The woman I married turned out to be a horrible person, and I'm happily divorced. Thankfully we never had kids together, so we barely have anything to connect us at all and I haven't heard from her even once since our divorce three years ago. But there is one complication. She has a sister, "Darlene," who she also hasn't spoken to in years. But I'm seeing Darlene. When my ex kicked me out, Darlene set me up with a job in the city where she lives. The difference between her and my ex is like night and day, and we hit it off from the start, but agreed not to get too involved in each other's personal lives for obvious reasons. Well, a year ago we started having casual sex from time to time, and lately it's been a lot more frequent. Enough so that Darlene asked if I am interested in a more steady relationship with her. I really like her and want to say yes, but I'm hesitant to rush into anything. The fact is I've known her for longer than I was married to my ex, so I think a relationship with her would be fine, but not everyone, especially my family, agrees with me. Do you think I'm ignoring red flags?
A: Based on this letter it sounds to me as if you and your ex were well matched. You may not be a horrible person, but you certainly are a deluded and oblivious one. You say you hesitate to "rush into anything" with Darlene, but you've already rushed into Darlene. It's a little late, but better than never that you are considering the idiocy of getting more seriously involved with your "horrible" ex's estranged sister. Of course you're all single adults and entitled to do what you like, but I hope you don't need your family members to alert you to the potential pitfalls of marrying you're ex's sister. You need to start thinking about why you find yourself drawn to the wrong woman over and over again.
Q. Re: For Law School Husband: If the husband is serious about law school, he should find a program that allows him to take classes at night, part time, and keep his day job. Lots and lots of people earn law degrees in this way. It might not be less expensive, but he can still earn his income. Also, it will be a good test to see if it is "his dream," without sacrificing a lucrative career. It he is really passionate, he should be willing to take a shot at part-time education.
A: This is true, and I didn't suggest it because it will still cost a lot of money and if I had two very young children to care for I wouldn't be thrilled if all my husband's free time was taken up with classes and studying. There is no reason his dream can't wait until the children are in school, he's more established in his career, and (let's hope!) the economy is better.