Washington, D.C.: My grandfather-in-law annually gifts each household in his family with a produce-of-the-month subscription. I try to eat seasonally and locally, and getting apples from New Zealand in June is just annoying.
I've asked my husband several times to see if we can swap this gift with, say, a Community Supported Agriculture share, but he's not inclined to make waves. Will a food bank take this stuff? Can I have it shipped directly to them? What else can I do?
Emily Yoffe: You can stop being so self-righteous and enjoy the thoughtful gift from an elderly relative. If you must assuage your elevated conscience, think how much you're helping New Zealand's apple growers.
New York: Whenever I watch my kids for a period of time alone, my wife comes home and hits me with a battery of questions about whether I did this or did that (i.e., did you feed the kids? Change the diapers?). This inquisition is not limited to away time as she comes and inspects the children's faces after bath time to make sure I cleansed them properly, which I always do. Of course, if I ask these questions of her, eyes are rolled. How do I get her to get off my back?
Emily Yoffe: I know this syndrome well, because I have suffered from it. It's very destructive for women to complain that their husbands won't help with the children or the house, then micromanage and critique everything the men do. At a neutral time when you're both relaxed, tell her that you are and intend to be a full partner in your domestic life. Say you know you do things differently than she does, and they may not be up to her standards, but no one wants a critique and an eye-roll for the effort they put in. I hope she listens. This doesn't mean she'll then stop. But when she starts in again, keep your cool and say, "Sweetheart, when you go over every detail of what I've done wrong, it just makes me feel like giving up and letting you do it all. You don't want that and neither do I. So let's be more gentle with each other."
Somewhere in the South: I think I'm thinking too much about this, but I really feel that I'm in a quandary.
My beloved younger brother has decided he is running for state Senate. We are on the complete opposite sides regarding political beliefs. Luckily, we don't live in the same state. I genuinely wished him well and became a fan on his Facebook page. Now, I'm getting solicitations for donations to his campaign. I'm single and have a very limited budget, while my brother is quite wealthy. I've thought about sending him a check for $20 to be done with it, but his beliefs are so on the fringe that they honestly scare me. Should I just suck it up and send him a small donation hoping they won't continue to badger me with solicitations?
Emily Yoffe: If you think making a donation will stop the badgering, you've obviously never made a political donation before. If you didn't abhor his views, I'd say sure, $20 for family good will is worth it. But you don't have money, he does, and you hate what he stands for. You've wished him the best; that's all you need to do.
Bisexual boyfriend: I'm a single GWM, and if you go on men-for-men sites, a lot of guys have wives. At one time (if not now), these two people were in love, and they have a child. But, I've seen too much heartache with men who sleep with men and don't tell their wives/long-term girlfriends. In my experience, his behavior will not stop; he'll just cover it up better.
I know she loves him, but I believe it's best if they part amicably and he stays a big part of his child's life. Some of the best-adjusted, most open-minded kids I've seen have a gay or bisexual parent who stays involved in their life.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks for the perspective from someone who's seen this situation play out.
Gifting: Any advice on how I can bite my tongue this holiday season when people turn gift into a verb? What's wrong with give for Pete's sake?
Emily Yoffe: Your gift to holiday cheer will be to not correct them. I agree it's grating, but give it up on "give vs. gift." And I hope you've accepted it's too late to convince people that friend isn't a verb, either.
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