A: And here is another way people in pain can cause more. I'm sorry for you loss and the agony you have been put through. But you have a very clear-eyed understanding of what's important: Your relationship with your grandchildren. Unfortunately, your former daughter-in-law has essentially all the power here, and you've been exactly right to tread carefully and have thing be cordial. Keep doing it. With this new marriage it will be more important than ever for you to keep a connection to your grandchildren. Especially as they get older, they will want to know about their biological father. You will be the person they can turn to for photos of him as a young man, for conversations about how much he adored them. I hope you have some dear friends who are good listeners, or even a therapist, so that you can unload about this difficult situation.
Q. Want Another Kid, but Maybe not the Marriage: My husband and I have been together for about 12 years, married for about 8, and have a wonderful 2 year old daughter. We are currently trying for baby No. 2 despite some on-going marital issues. These issues, which include my decreased attraction to him, having little in common, and me feeling basically unloved, are getting worse, not better, but I still plan to continue to try to conceive and here's why: He's a good father and if I'm going to have another child, I want it to be with him. Is this just completely wrong? I am still hopeful that we might be able to save our marriage, but even if I knew that that wasn't going to happen, I'd still go ahead and have another child with him. Am I being selfish? Short-sighted?
A: So the issue is that you see your husband as a sperm donor who will be involved in your child's life, not as a life partner. Yes, I consider that a serious issue, but thank you for enlightening me about how it is that people push ahead with having children with spouses they don't like. I think you are being extremely blithe about the effects of divorce on children. While I understand your desire have another child, I do not understand your shrugging off bringing more children into an unhappy home. I think you should put off the baby-making and work on the marriage.
Q. Dinner Parties, Recalled Food, Food Poisoning: I recently attended a dinner party at the house of two friends from college who are in a long-term relationship. Fondue was on the menu but the chocolate did not melt properly and the peanut butter never made it in. Later, though, I discovered that the peanut butter had been recalled because it was suspected of containing salmonella and was grateful that the recipe was unsuccessful. I informed the couple of this terrible news, but to my shock and surprise, they continue to eat this peanut butter, reasoning that if it was going to kill them, it would have done so already! Should I turn down my next invitation to dinner?
A: Instead of bringing wine, bring a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter cups and munch on those at dessert time. I agree it's odd to turn yourself into a test case for FDA investigators, but their experiment seems to have turned out fine. They ate the peanut butter and survived. I don't think this means at their next event they will serve undercooked chicken or contaminated berries. But it sounds as if the next invitation should be from you to them—so you can break bread without worrying about ending up in the emergency room.
Q. Former Secret Admirer: I developed my first real crush (the listen-to-sad-love-songs-at-night variety) when I was in middle school on an artsy and down-to-earth dreamboat a year ahead of me. Over the next couple years, I wrote him anonymous letters—maybe half a dozen total?—the content of which included "I like you"-language and were sort of chatty. Typical middle school note kind of stuff. I don't remember them being especially over-the-top romantic in any way. And, I actually mailed him these letters. (Quaint, huh?) As the years went by, we had mutual friends but my crush faded as others blossomed. I harbor no feelings now (20 years later)—but my question is, should I ever tell him it was me? Not in a dedicated email or anything but if I run into him one day? We're from a small town so it's not inconceivable I'll see him sometime when everyone is in the area at holiday time. Have any chatters ever been the recipient of this kind of thing? Are you dying to know or do you like the mystery? FWIW, I'm not dying to tell. Just wondering your thoughts.
A: Let the mystery stand. Maybe hearing it was you will send his heart soaring. Maybe it will send it thudding because he'd long ago decided that Laura, the girl he could never work up the nerve to talk to, was actually in love with him. I think this one is better left unsolved.
Q. Flirting: My fiancé is a very flirtatious guy. He definitely straddles the line of appropriateness, but I know he would never touch another woman. He's also very honest and tells me about his flirtations. (They're mainly via email or text, and with women happily married that he's been friends with for years and years.) I guess my question is ... should it bother me that he does this? It doesn't. I really do trust him. (FWIW, I've been cheated on in the past by my ex-husband, went through therapy, etc. etc.) My friends all think it's weird that I'm okay with him making these flirty jokes to other women. Maybe it's because these are all women that I know and trust?
A. There's the flirt, and there's the jerk. I frankly can't tell which one your fiancé is. You admit his communication—which he tells you about—straddles the line. He seems to enjoy involving you in this part of his life. Yet you trust him completely and say you aren't bothered by it. But surely you've been bothered enough to tell your friends or else they'd never know about this so-called totally harmless activity. Maybe they're sighing because they're fearing a rerun of marriage number one and they won't be able to restrain themselves from saying, "I told you so." It sounds as if at the least you need to talk to your fiancé and get a better understanding of what he gets out of sending questionable emails to married friends.
Q. Re: Reply From Hot And Bothered Volunteer: I think I'll go for it! And he's not any of the men you've mentioned—I promise I have (slightly) better taste than Charlie Sheen or Mel Gibson.
A: Give us a report! And someone else suggested a complete STD status report is a good idea, which it is. (Does he have a history of injecting drugs?) Of course, asking for one might kill this one-nighter before it begins.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.
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