Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. A transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon, everyone. Let's get to the questions.
Tampa, Fla.: I'm getting married to the woman of my dreams in three months. I'm excited about our upcoming wedding, but one thing has been a real source of tension for us for the past year. She was raised in a controlling, strict home. Her parents don't believe in privacy, and they (and her siblings) constantly walk in and out of her bedroom. My fiancee tells me that she's sick of being "smothered" and that after we move in together, she wants her own room. Basically, after making love, she wants to go sleep in a different bedroom. Naturally, I'm upset about this because I would like to share a bedroom with my wife. How do we resolve this?
—Don't Want To Sleep in a Cold Bed
Emily Yoffe: So your fiancee is going from her family bedroom to your marital bedroom without a pit stop at having a chance to have her own bedroom. It sounds as if you're marrying someone who may be the woman of your dreams, but in many ways she's still a girl—one who hasn't had a chance to find out what it's like to be on her own. She's so smothered she doesn't even have the wherewithal to get a hook-and-eye combo on her bedroom door to keep the family hordes from invading. (And what's up with the stream of traffic through the bedroom of a woman old enough to marry?) I'm afraid unless your fiancee gets a chance at independence, you will suffer from being perceived as her next oppressor. You two need to have a serious talk about whether you're ready to go through with the wedding. Of course it's perfectly reasonable that you want to share a bedroom with your wife. Also reasonable is that she wants a room of her own.
Dallas:We are having a small Halloween party for our 6-year-old son and three of his friends and their parents. After sending out invitations, one of the mothers asked if her father-in-law could "tag along." She is putting me in a difficult situation. If I say no, I'm the bad guy. If I say yes, I risk making my other guests uncomfortable, and I only have enough seating for eight people anyway! What are your thoughts? Thank you!
Emily Yoffe: I assume a Halloween party for 6-year-old is not actually a formal sit-down dinner. Presumably the father-in-law is visiting from out of town and he wants to spend maximum time with his grandchild and would get a kick out of seeing the Halloween festivities. I don't understand why your other friends would feel uncomfortable if someone's visiting grandfather came for the event. If any occasion seemed as if it would be flexible enough to accommodate another ghost or goblin, a Halloween party would be it.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.: Help! My husband and I just bought our first place. And we can't wait to celebrate with our housewarming party. My dilemma is, I have some family members that are overweight. I am debating whether to invite them over or not. Please do not think of me as insensitive, for I have other guests that are just as overweight and are definitely invited to the housewarming. The problem lies with this particular side of the family. ... They are notorious for coming over to peoples' homes and breaking furniture. And many family members have stopped inviting them. For example, my cousin weighs about 260 pounds and her husband weighs about 230 pounds, and they both like to pick a piece of furniture and sit on each other's laps. That's almost 500 pounds on a single seat.
I don't know if they are dumb or in denial, but when I go to someone's home, I am respectful of their property and behave accordingly. If I see a chair or something that looks flimsy for my weight, I will simply sit somewhere else. I am torn, because I simply cannot just not invite them. Because in that side of the family there are two very innocent, respectful, great individuals that I would love to have over. But I can't invite them and not invite the rest of their disrespectful family. Should I just have the housewarming secretly and not invite that whole side? And then on a separate occasion just invite the two innocent victims over for dinner and never let them know I had a house warming?
Emily Yoffe: I might be willing to sacrifice a piece of furniture for the spectacle of watching 500 pounds of relative sit in each other's laps and collapse it. Is this some kind of performance art—a commentary on America's overconsumption, perhaps—or are they just nuts? In any case, why not have a whole bunch of sturdy but cheap folding chairs available for your soiree. Then when you see the circus act begin, you can indicate the chairs and say, "Marvin, Louise, there's no need to double up, we've got plenty of seating for everybody."
Detroit: Very recently, I started receiving text messages with dirty jokes from an unknown number. Today, I learned that they're coming from my boyfriend's father! I don't know him that well, and to be honest, I don't find it appropriate for him to be doing it. Should I bring this up to my boyfriend? I don't want to cause friction between all of us, but at the same time, I'm going to feel uncomfortable being around his dad if these texts continue. What should I do?
Emily Yoffe: I don't know which is more to be hoped for: that Dad is losing his faculties or that Dad has always been a pervert. Uncomfortable though this may be, you must tell your boyfriend. He needs to then initiate a medical check-up or have a very unpleasant conversation with his father.