Pittsburgh: A few weeks ago my husband and I announced that we are expecting our first child. I would imagine that the word has spread to most extended family members and family friends. My brother is getting married this weekend, and I will be seeing many of those family and friends for the first time since the big announcement. Also, I would expect that there are some of them that have not yet heard the news.
While I am, of course, appreciative of the inevitable congratulations, I don't want to take the focus off of my brother and his soon-to-be wife for their special day. Any advice on staying out of the limelight?
Emily Yoffe: Is your worry because your brother and future sister-in-law have an advanced case of My Day-ism, and you are anticipating lifelong antipathy from them over your rude and thoughtless decision to procreate during their wedding season? Or do you yourself believe that brides are entitled to be divas and you know you would have been angry at the temerity of another relative showing up at your wedding with exciting news? In either case, what you do is accept everyone's good wishes as you would at any family gathering. You already know you shouldn't hog the spotlight, but neither do you have to hide your bushel under a bushel.
Excluding sister: If she's on a "one-week respite from Iraq" presumably the last thing she needs is more stress in her life, which repairing an estrangement would constitute. She may be in the wrong, but this seems like the absolutely wrong time to raise the issue.
Emily Yoffe: OK, good point. But she's not saying, "Sorry, I just can't deal with your or our relationship now. We'll talk when my tour is over." She's hanging up. And with their mother in Iraq, it probably would be nice for her sons to have an aunt in their life. I don't think writing a loving letter that the sister can think about can hurt.
Hodge, Mo.: I'm in a sort of awkward situation with my wife of a year. We work together (she is also my boss) at a tiny company that she has owned for longer than we have been together. She is sensitive, smart, and wonderful, and I love her very much. A few weeks ago, I walked in on her business partner (whom she trusts a great deal), and the other woman who works in the office making fun of her in a truly mean way, though they didn't realize that I was within earshot. One of them was not only her business partner but also someone she considers a friend. Do I tell her she's being deceived? Or just clam up and pretend I know nothing?
Emily Yoffe: It really depends on the nature of what you heard. If it was a mean imitation, for example, that was more along the lines of blowing off steam than undermining your wife, you should probably let it go. Everyone does something like this from time to time (although one owner should not do it with a subordinate about another owner). But you should continue to keep your ears open. However, if what was said was something that makes you doubt the actual good will of your wife's partner, then you should tell her.
Platte City, Mo.: My boyfriend of six months tends to be a little on the perverted side at certain times of the night—even on the phone or on MSN. I am not really comfortable with his pervertedness but don't have the heart to tell him to stop when it gets out of hand. Is there any way I can stop him without hurting his feelings or making him feel rejected?
Emily Yoffe: You could try saying, "Honey, please stop being a sexual deviant." On second thought, you need to clarify what you mean by "pervert." If he tells you his fantasies about little girls, you surely want to make him your ex-boyfriend. But if he just likes to talk explicitly to you in settings that make you uncomfortable, you need to explain that just makes you uncomfortable. Maybe the "perverted" talk is OK with you in the bedroom but not on the phone. The key is being able to talk about how you want to talk to each other.
re: Iraq sister: While I think sending a letter is a good idea, please, please, please wait until she returns home for good from her tour. Getting an emotional plea of this sort could really take her focus off her job—which is likely tied to her safety and the safety of others. It's just not a good idea to try to open up old wounds (even to heal them) while someone is deployed.
Emily Yoffe: Good point. She can write the letter now to help her deal with her feelings, then hold it until the sister is back for good.
Ann Arbor, Mich.: I'm a single, female, late twentysomething who is currently completing graduate school and hopes to eventually teach at a university. I am proud of my accomplishments, but I have met people (friends of friends, possible dates, etc.) who have responded to my answer of what I'm doing in life with a snarlish, "Wish I could've gone to college—but Mommy and Daddy couldn't afford to foot the bill."