Nowheresville, Mo.: I am having major problems at work. I am an admin for a small commercial real estate firm. A few months ago, one of the attorneys I work with stopped talking to me. We had a really good relationship up until then. Don't know what or if I did anything wrong. The economy has not been good for our industry, and we could be facing more layoffs at the end of the year. I'm afraid this issue could put me on the list, even though we are short-handed in admin staff. Another problem is that it is this huge purple gorilla in our department, and no one says anything. I am so miserable; other than squirreling away money just in case and crying in the car on the way, what can I do?
Emily Yoffe: You didn't send someone else a Ben Stein rant about the president, did you? If someone you work with has stopped talking to you, you've got to get out of the car, dry your tears, and make an appointment to try to clear this up. Do your best to keep your cool and say that you've always enjoyed working with him, but have noticed in the last few months he's been avoiding talking to you. Then say you want to find out what's wrong so you can fix it. If he won't tell you, then go to another partner and explain your problem and ask for assistance getting it resolved. This won't eliminate the larger financial pressures, but it will make you feel more in charge of your life.
RE: Not a pedophile: I met my husband when I was 17 and he was 27. Yes, it was weird, it was hard (there were many angry relatives), but we knew we were right for each other. Nine years later, we have been married for over 5 years. I went to and finished college, am employed, etc. Basically, it wasn't a disaster and we didn't give in to anyone.
I guess the point is that it's different for everyone and only the two involved really know their intentions. I'm glad this guy has a second chance on what he felt he had to give up before. The family will come around when they see the good intentions and the devotion to the relationship (although, it doesn't hurt to find a few family members on your side, even if they aren't vocal). This is definitely a case of actions speaking louder than words.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks for your story. I hope "it wasn't a disaster" is not how you characterize your marriage, but just getting through the family objections!
Pittsfield, Mass.: I will be visiting an elderly relative. She said she wants to give me some old coats and clothes that she can't bear to throw away. I don't want them, won't use them, have a small house, etc. I think she hand-made them many years ago. Should I take them to make her feel better? Then donate them?
Emily Yoffe: Yes, do the kind thing and take them and say you love them, then donate them or sell them at a consignment shop. It sounds as if this elderly relative is clearing out her house in advance of the final clearing out, and that can be a wrenching thing.
Chicago, Ill.: This past summer, I finally sought help to deal with an ongoing eating disorder and alcohol problem. I went to an in-patient facility for two months. To explain my absence, I told most of my friends that I was going to be volunteering overseas. Now that I'm out of rehab, happy and healthy, I'd like to tell people where I really was. I think that telling people is important to continue the healing and prevent myself from going back to bad habits. I also don't think I can keep up this lie. How do I tell people? And how do I respond to the inevitable questions? Thanks Prudence!
Emily Yoffe: You don't have to send an announcement, but you can do it on a case-by-case basis. For people who say, "How was your trip?" you can reply, "Actually, that was a cover story. I was in rehab, and I realize now that being able to say I needed rehab and not being ashamed about it is part of my recovery." If you're out with friends who are expecting you to drink with them, you can say, "I'm a recovering alcoholic, so you go ahead, but I don't drink anymore." Congratulations and continued success with your new life.
New Hampshire: So here's my problem. I have a swimming pool in my backyard—I don't use it a lot, my dogs use it daily. I have a friend who has a young child. They use the pool quite often—I've done this as a favor to them. The problem is this: When they swim—for hours—they never get out of the pool to use the rest room. NEVER. They live 40 minutes away and don't use the restroom before they go swimming either—nor after they get out for a 40 minute drive home. What 4-year-old can hold pee-pee in a swimming context for three hours? The problem became apparent when my chemical levels went out of whack after they had a swim—and only after they've used the pool.
So, short of getting some of those dye-packs and tossing them in the pool (that react with urine and turn color)—what can I do? They're nice people, but they're honestly ruining my pool season.
Signed, There's No "P" in My ool.
Emily Yoffe: Unless you are running a country club and they've paid a membership fee, you are not obligated to endlessly host anyone in your pool. If you are good enough friends that it's OK they are in your backyard all summer, then you should be comfortable enough to say that in order to maintain the cleanliness of the water, she needs to take her little boy out for regular bathroom breaks. If she won't, urine luck, and they're out of it.