Q. Re: Talking to yourself: My mother does this. It is incredibly invasive. I don’t live with her, but when we’ve shared a room on vacation, and she’s talking, I have to disengage from whatever I’m doing, tune in to her, figure out if she’s talking to me or just talking, then re-engage in whatever I was doing. By the time I’ve done that, she’s babbling again, meaning I can’t do anything but attend to her. She’s said I should ignore it, but since she does sometimes want my attention, that’s not a real option, just something she’s thrown out pretending to be generous. Stop talking to yourself already, it’s selfish.
A: I agree that someone in close quarters talking to themselves in an animated and incessant fashion can drive one buggy. But your note seems to go beyond annoyance at your mother’s habit, and into more global annoyance with your mother. If the original letter writer produces an endless torrent of words, that’s a problem. But surely her boyfriend would have noticed this before they moved in.
Q. Re: HPV: OP here. I don’t want to tell my kids that their dad is a cheat. I want a way to explain that he won’t be coming for Christmas and stopping by the house without letting them in on the details.
A: It’s May, so you don’t have to worry about Christmas. If you are used to hosting your ex for family get-togethers during the year, you can just tell your kids that you did that when they were younger because you felt it was important for them. But now you would prefer to see less of your ex, so they need to make separate arrangement to see their father. I assure you, your children don’t want to know about their parents’ STD status.
(Lots of people are commenting that the woman with cervical dysplasia may not have gotten it from her husband and that while the majority of such conditions are caused by HPV, a minority are not. In addition, while HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, people can technically be virgins and still be exposed. The CDC is a great source of information. Most of all: Young people need to be vaccinated.)
Q. Husband’s Small Manhood: I was so deeply in love with my husband that when we first became intimate, his unusually small male member didn’t matter. Now 14 years later, I’ve gotten to the point of having pure hatred for him and his penis. He’s never been able to satisfy me in the bedroom and it’s now becoming a problem. What do I do?
A: Pure hatred for a spouse’s body part—especially a body part thoroughly vetted and approved—speaks less to your spouse’s shortcomings than your own. You were fully aware of the size of your husband’s penis and decided to go ahead and marry him. Although this organ is noted for its variability under different conditions, its essential dimensions cannot be changed, presumably a basic biological fact of which you were aware. If you married him despite your desperate distaste for your sexual life, then you are a fool. If you find his penis less than satisfying during intercourse, a look at any sex book would show you that there are many wonderful, creative ways two partners can satisfy each other in bed. You sound as if perhaps you’ve come to hate your husband, but have focused all your ire on one small reason. You have several choices. You two can expand your sexual horizons with each other. You two can go to counseling (or you can go alone). Or you can conclude your love and marriage are dead, and see a lawyer to end the pain for both of you.
Q. Re: Talking to myself: My hubby and I talk to ourselves all the time. When I hear him talking I always ask “am I supposed to be listening to you?” If his answer is no I tune him out. He does the same thing to me. You don’t have the problem LW, your BF does.
A: This sounds like an eminently reasonable approach. Although it can be complicated when you’re not talking to your spouse, but talking about your spouse.
Q. Unwanted Birthday Attention: This past January, I started dating a wonderful guy. His birthday came early on in our relationship and I knew that acknowledging the occasion was important to him. My gift to him was a handmade humorous card that he loved. As my birthday approached, I requested we not celebrate it and I kept the date a secret. Well, a friend told him. No big deal, and it seemed as if he went along with my request (I turned 49). This weekend, we went to a Mother’s Day celebration at his brother’s place. He surprised me with a cake and the whole family sang happy birthday. This was the first time I met his family, and I was feeling uncomfortable as I had a giant cold sore on my lip. I tried, unsuccessfully to act pleased and excited. On the way home it was a disaster. He claims it was “just a cake,” which turned into one of those “I always and you never” conversations. I ended up placating him and apologizing for not being appreciative enough—without his apologizing for putting me on the spot. His whole stance now is that I always ignore his offers of help, and don’t praise him when he does something nice. I tried to open a dialogue, to no avail. Is this relationship doomed?
A: After all that HPV talk, thanks for switching the conversation to the herpes virus. So, your boyfriend found out that it was your birthday, and during his family’s Mother’s Day celebration, he was thoughtful enough to make sure a cake was there to acknowledge you. I assume the happy birthday song did not conclude, “Happy Birthday, Dear Jennifer, and don’t kiss any of us on the lip!” Even if you hate being the center of attention, especially when you’re sporting a mouth sore, your reaction to the cake sounds churlish, foolish, and ungrateful. However, this incident has devolved into a general critique of your relationship. You say you tried to open a dialogue, but if you’re doing so, you need to start not by “placating,” but by sincerely apologizing for making him uncomfortable about a lovely gesture. If he then continues to sulk in his corner and mumble about how unhappy you make him, yes, you two have considerable problems.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.
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