Every week, Emily Yoffe answers questions from readers in a live chat. Now she’ll be answering a few additional questions for Slate Plus members only.
Q. Wife left me for another woman: Hi. This spring my wife of almost 20 years left me for another woman. I was devastated but am beginning to recover. It has not been civil, mainly because of the lying and cheating. I was always pro–gay rights and still support freedom to marry, etc. But this has changed me, and now when I see a lesbian couple, I feel resentful—especially if it’s a stereotypical “butch” lesbian with a more feminine one. I don’t like that I feel this way and don’t want to pass this attitude onto my son. How do I come to terms with my feelings?
A: Let’s say your wife left you for a stereotypical “manly man.” I assume you would not be hating all muscular guys and rethinking your approval of heterosexual marriage. Your marriage came to a painful, crashing end. Your wife left you for another woman, but your beef is with her, not with the right of gay people to couple up and marry. You’re correct that you don’t want to express hostility about gay people to your son, nor do you want to involve him in your emotional turmoil—he’s already dealing with the end of his parents’ marriage. So seek counseling. There you get to vent your anger, examine it, heal, and move on.
Q. Apartment etiquette: My boyfriend and I are in our 20s and have been living together for almost two years in a second-floor apartment. The only issue we ever had with the neighbors under us was about their speakers being too loud, which was resolved in a friendly manner. Those neighbors moved out, and an older couple moved in. We are the rare twentysomethings who love staying home and living quietly. Here’s the problem. Whenever we vacuum or shampoo our carpets, our door is banged down, and we are aggressively told that we are being too loud. The last time this happened, I heard the wife screaming in her apartment and slamming things around before she stomped up the stairs to scream. I make a point of vacuuming well before normal sleeping hours or during the day on the weekends. I’m beginning to think that our neighbor just enjoys projecting her bad feelings onto us. She has not formally complained to the apartment property manager. After her last freakout, I don’t want to open the door. I’m currently staring at my dirty carpet feeling anxious about getting out the vacuum cleaner! Please tell me how to handle this.
A: She may not have complained to the property manager, but you should. You’re being harassed in a threatening manner for engaging in normal living in your apartment. This couple needs notice that neighbors vacuuming during reasonable hours is something people in apartments have to live with and that they should not bang on your door when you are doing it. Whether or not they get such a notice, go ahead and clean your apartment. If she comes up and starts acting like a lunatic, explain through the closed door that if she doesn’t leave immediately, you will call the police. Record her banging and screaming in case you do have to call them. People like your neighbors need to live on the top floor, or preferably in their own building. You should not feel like a prisoner with a dirty floor just because a nut lives downstairs.