Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
July 20 2009 2:27 PM

The Right Candidate With the Wrong Idea

Prudie counsels someone vetting a strong job applicant with repugnant personal beliefs—and other advice seekers.

(Continued from Page 1)

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Cherry Hill, N.J.: Hello. My son is about to marry a wonderful woman. Her parents are divorced. Apparently very bad situation. Her father remains single and lives several states away. Her mother is now married to her father's former best friend and says there was nothing going on between them prior to divorce. However, the dad does not know of this and mother and step dad refuse to tell him. They have left it to their daughter to do so, and she has agonized over it for 7-8 years. Now all will be in one place at one time, and daughter is torn in two. She has asked my thoughts, and I've gently replied that I do not feel it is her responsibility to reveal this. She's the "child" in this, even now and her mother and step dad should handle it. She believes they never will and fears her Dad will see as a conspirator in hiding truth from him. My son will tell her dad of this with her, if need be, to support her. She is so stressed, they're considering eloping to avoid this. Your thoughts? Suggestions?

Emily Yoffe: This reminds me of the Henny Youngman joke, "My wife just ran off with my best friend, and boy, do I miss him." However, this situation is no joke, it's truly sick. How lucky for your future daughter-in-law that she's marrying into a healthy family and that all of you love her. Yes, she will need your support through this. I actually think she and your son (she could use some help) should sit down with her father before the wedding and break the news. It obviously should have come out years ago, but the father will rightly feel mislead if he shows up at the wedding and learns the truth there. Be there to help her through the emotional fall-out, which may include the father boycotting the wedding.

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Carlsbad, Calif.: To Annandale, Va.—I have found that starting to look for a new job while in an unhappy job does wonders for the morale and sense of empowerment. I encourage your husband to start looking—pronto. Not only will he land another job without an interruption in paychecks, but his personal outlook and attitude will improve because he's taking his destiny into his own hands.

Emily Yoffe: Good point that the misery might lessen once the unhappy husband feels he is taking steps toward something better, rather than just running away.

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Washington, D.C.: "But my nose runs whenever I eat hot soup or spicy food."

I love spicy food, but when I eat it, I sweat like a fat man running upstairs AND my nose runs like the bulls of Pamplona.

The key is simple: I don't eat spicy food in public unless I'm with someone I know very well, or don't care to impress. I NEVER eat spicy food on a date.

Emily Yoffe: But going out for Mexican food might be a good way to tell if someone would be willing to stick with you through better and wetter.

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Clarksburg, W.Va.: Dear Prudie, I work for a small CEO-owned company. When I started here a few years ago, the company had a generous bonus package based on employee performance. Bonuses were canceled last year due to economic conditions. Starting this year our whole team has pulled together and worked hard so we are now having the best financial year in the company's history. I've been lucky to work on accounts that have brought in over three times my yearly salary. At today's staff meeting, unexpectedly, I was given an envelope and it was announced to the whole team that I was getting a bonus. In the envelope was a $50 restaurant gift card. I am so embarrassed to have been singled out in front of the group and am not sure how to feel about a gesture, and in light of how well we're now doing, that it seems a little on the light side. Am I out of line for thinking that for that amount our whole team should have gotten the gift cards or should I just be unquestioningly grateful, eat my free dinner and shut up?

Thanks so much for your help!

Emily Yoffe: Talk to the owner, but separate the issues of reinstating the generous bonus packages and this particular gift. Tell the boss how much you appreciate the dinner card, but you want to let him or her know that the good results were the work of the whole team, and you wonder if there is a way to honor everyone by, say, having a appreciation lunch for all, etc. The discussion of the bonus packages should come at a later date—and keep in mind that while this year may be good, the company may be digging itself out of a financial hole. You should also send a note or email to your team and say that while you were happy the boss recognized the good year you are having, you know, and you let the boss know, that it's because of the work of everyone.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi, I wonder if you might have some advice for me. Recently a good friend started dating a fantastic, gorgeous, smart, bright, funny, delightful woman. In fact, she's so fantastic, gorgeous, smart, bright, funny, and delightful that I have recently found myself extremely attracted to her. I mean, seriously, she's my dream woman.

Now, I would never do anything about it, of course, and I freely admit that part of my dilemma stems from jealousy that he found someone so fantastic to date while I'm still single, but do you have any advice on how to deal with it, apart from choosing not to hang out with said friend as often as before?

Emily Yoffe: Reassure yourself that there is a fantastic, gorgeous, smart, etc. woman out there for you. So start looking. You can even tell your friend that you're so happy for him that he's found someone so great that you wonder if she has any similarly delightful girlfriends she can set you up with.

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Portland, Ore.: Dear Prudence, My younger sister, 26, has a problem with body odor. I don't believe she showers daily or washes her clothes regularly. It has gotten very bad, to the point where driving in the car with her necessitates having the windows open; her hair looks greasy a lot. I have tried speaking gently with her in the past about using deodorant, taking regular showers, etc., which ended up with her in tears, although she said she knew I was speaking from a place of love. She recently confided in me that she doesn't take care of herself when she's feeling low. How do I approach her again about this? I'm worried it will affect her job and friendships; I know if I worked with a co-worker who had a strong B.O. that folks would gossip. At the same time, I've already tried to confront her about it, so would doing so again just be hurtful and damage our relationship? Thank you so much for your advice, Prudie!

Emily Yoffe: Forget trying to persuade her to bathe, and instead do your best to convince her to get a complete mental health evaluation. Then get her in the car, open the windows, and drive her there. Dispensing with personal hygiene is a sign of mental illness—your sister has already confided in you that she feels "low." She needs a diagnosis and probably medication. When her internal issues are addressed, she'll be much more likely to attend to her exterior.

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