A: First of all, your husband needs a check-up. If everything checks out, he needs to have a discussion with his doctor about the uses of a little blue pill, or that pill people take then get in separate bathtubs. This kind of thing can be a downward spiral for a man. His worries about maintaining an erection almost guarantee that he won't. Look on the vast shelf of sex-advice literature for techniques to help with this, or maybe you two could benefit from a few visits with a sex therapist. You need tenderness and understanding with each other. The worst thing you two can do is harden your hearts against each other.
Q. Re: Menopause Mom: That mom was me a few months ago. I had a hysterectomy a few years ago, but had estrogen producing naturally. That production started to die off ... my kids and husband flat out told me to go to the doctor and get checked out. I was mean, nasty, quick to flare off, etc. Guess what ... low-dosage meds and I have made a 180 degree turnaround. The LW needs to get everyone together and they need to make a case to mom and she needs to see a doctor. There are plenty of different things that can be done. NO one should be subjected to that kind of abuse. It can last for a few years.
A: Thanks. So letter writer, either have your father have the talk, or have a family meeting with mom. With help, your mother should be her old self soon.
Q. Church Wedding: My sister and I were both raised in the Catholic church. As we grew up, I found religion to be a huge part of my life, married a Catholic man, and plan to send our two young children to Catholic school when they are school aged. My sister attends church with our family on important occasions, but has often expressed opposing views to the Catholic church. We have agreed to disagree on these issues and have a nice relationship. Over the Christmas holidays, my sister became engaged to a wonderful man—and wants to get married in the Catholic church. She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding and I am struggling with agreeing. I strongly suspect the only reason my sister wants to get married in our church is because it makes for beautiful photographs and can seat a lot of people. The point of getting married in a church is to seal a covenant between you, your spouse, and God. Not to take pretty pictures. I am not sure I can stand up in a wedding of two people who are getting married in a church but feel they way they do about the religion. Am I being unreasonable? If I decide to bow out of the wedding, what is the best way to explain this to my sister?
A: What a timely letter since the pope today announced that he is bowing out. Please, don't anoint yourself the next Torquemada. It is not your job to judge anyone else's fidelity to doctrine. If only people who totally agreed with every aspect of their religion's tenets were allowed in the pews, they'd be far more empty than they are. Surely you don't believe that a religion is above criticism or the need to re-evaluate its policies. What you do is express your joy at your sister's news. Then rejoice that you two will become even closer as you help her plan this wonderful occasion.
Q. Buzzed Baby Sitters: My in-laws were hard drinkers growing up, and although my husband says they were never alcoholics, he did learn at an early age how to care for hungover people. Now my in-laws want to watch our young children more often, and I'm uncomfortable leaving our kids (1, 3) in their care, because I know they will not curtail their drinking. I understand that my in-laws raised my husband and his brothers while drinking the same amount that they do now, but leaving my babies in the care of tipsy adults puts me on edge. Last year my father-in-law got a DUI, and I also worry my in-laws would try to drive in a compromised state with our kids in the car. Right now my parents do the bulk of child care, because they do not drink while watching any of their grandchildren. I want our children to know my in-laws as well as they do my parents, because I don't want to become one of those daughter-in-laws who allows her family to monopolize the grandkids. At the same time, I think it's reasonable to expect our kids' caretakers to be sober. My husband agrees with me but is also, I believe, beginning to resent how much my parents see our kids. He loves his parents, and so do I. Am I overreacting?
A: It's amazing how many times I've gotten a variation of this letter. Mom, no one who's drunk watches your kids. Period. Your father-in-law's DUI tells you that he's not in control of his drinking, and if you're aware both of them regularly drink and drive, you should report them to the DMV. God forbid they harm someone else's family. Your kids can spend plenty of them with their father's parents. You can go see them and stay during the visit. Or they can come see you—but take away their keys if they arrive impaired. As for your husband's resentment of your family, let him ponder the resentment he'd feel against his if in his parents' care one of your children got hurt.
Q. Boyfriend and a Prostitute: Over last weekend, I found out quite by accident that when my boyfriend of five years was overseas last year, he visited a brothel. He says he couldn't go through with it, and I actually believe him. But, I'm still icked out that he would even go down that road. I am trying to just forget about it but it is really bothering me. Is this something I should forgive because he didn't go through with it?
A: Bring this up with him. Tell him you believe him that he didn't do it—and you're glad of that—but you can't quite get out of your head that he considered it. Then as unemotionally as you can, talk it out. Say you're not only concerned about the infidelity, but the health risk he might have run for both of you. Maybe he was egged on by some cheating colleagues, got to the brothel door, and fled. If you believe that he regrets this and learned something positive from it, then if you're going to stay together, you have to forgive and trust again.
Q. Re: My husband says they were never alcoholics: He's in denial. Learning how to take care of hangovers at an early age and the DUI are a big red flag for alcoholics.
Q. Ex-Husband Makes Good: My ex-husband has remarried and has started a new family. When we were married he was moody, drank too much, and sometimes got so angry he would break things. Now he is a prince to his new wife, who happens to be younger. He also helps out a lot more with their kids than he ever did with ours. Our own teenagers have noted how much more involved their dad is with his new kids. It sounds bitter and silly to resent my ex's new wife and her kids because they get the end result of what I tolerated for years, but I cannot help but be jealous. How do I overcome these feelings of resentment to an admittedly very nice woman?
A: I totally understand that you resent that your moody drunk has turned into a helpful prince. And of course your children feel they got shafted. But the good news is that he is still their father and they have a chance to make a better relationship with him. It doesn't undo his past behavior, but it is a lesson for them that people can change and things can be healed. It might help you if you encouraged your children to nurture their relationships with their improved father and new half siblings. You acknowledge his new wife is lovely, so recognize having good people in their lives is a benefit for your kids, especially since they suffered from early turmoil. Instead of trying to extinguish your resentment, accept that it's normal you feel this way, but you will not let it rule you nor interfere with how your kids relate to your ex.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. I hope this Valentine's Day is full of love and good sex, preferably with the person you love.
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