Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Social butterfly can't cure partner's loneliness

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Is there a way to help someone else build his social circle? My partner and I are both in our 30s with no kids and a fair amount of free time. We do spend quite a bit of time together and go on regular dates, etc.

I am a "joiner" and am involved in things that occupy the rest of my ...Read more

Feeling obligated to stay with abusive husband

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Dear Carolyn:

Can therapy for anger ever really work? My husband is a screamer and a bully when he feels he isn't getting the attention (sex) he "deserves." He agreed to go to individual counseling a few months ago after I issued an ultimatum; we have small children and I wanted to give it one last shot.

This week there was another outburst...Read more

Mom takes "ladies first" school of thought to extremes

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My mother frequently asks men to defer to her in situations where I feel that her requests are ridiculous. For instance, at the grocery store, if the person in front of her in line is a man, she will always say, "Excuse me, will you please be a gentleman and let me go ahead of you? ...Read more

Lesbian PDA offends conservative Christian friend

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I have known "Sarah" for half my life. We are now in our late 20s. I came out to her as a lesbian two years ago and am currently dating someone.

Sarah is a conservative Christian, so I have made sure to be careful around her regarding our public displays of affection. I basically told ...Read more

Refusing to fight boyfriend's mom battles for him

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Dear Carolyn:

I've been dating my boyfriend for about three and a half years and we are moving in together. I'm 38 and he's 35. Everyone in his family has been so welcoming to me and is happy we're doing this.

His mother, though, is never nice to him. She's always been nice to me, but he's told me stories that still haunt him about verbal ...Read more

After Dad's death, a possible half-sister emerges

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My father passed away very suddenly several weeks ago. Though he had to cope with being a single dad my entire life -- my mom died when I was a baby -- he was the best dad any guy could ask for. He had a lot of relationships with women over the years but never remarried and pretty much ...Read more

Wife's teasing may cloak an ulterior motive

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Dear Carolyn:

I know teasing can be a playful way to get close or nudge us not to take ourselves too seriously. But sometimes I feel my wife uses it to express an opinion or point about me without saying it straight out.

These exchanges always seem a bit off, like little sidelong digs, but if I look at her inquisitively she says she was "...Read more

Mom of triplets gets judged for dressing them similarly

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My husband and I have triplet boys, preschool age. We're blessed, but one thing has become bothersome.

We usually dress them similarly. It makes things easier because we can buy three outfits at a time, they aren't fighting over who gets to wear a certain shirt, and we can easily pick ...Read more

Admitting fault in the battle of the sisters-in-law

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Dear Carolyn:

My fiance's sister and I have a strained relationship. I see her only at Thanksgiving, Christmas and occasional family events. She does not acknowledge me upon entering a room, her home, or my home. She heads straight to one of her family members without a word even when I acknowledge her. As the event progresses, she may ...Read more

Grandma yearns to tell new parents they're doing it wrong

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My son and daughter-in-law just had a baby, our first grandchild, which is wonderful. A lot seems to have changed since my kids were babies, and it's hard for me to keep up.

I formula-fed my kids and that worked out fine, but my daughter-in-law insists on nursing even though the ...Read more

Mother rejects traditional gender roles, at a cost to her kids

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My sister-in-law has a daughter and a son and has always wanted to avoid bringing them up in traditional gender roles. Relatives were told not to give her daughter anything pink. The girl got signed up for martial arts at a young age while the boy got signed up for ballet. That kind of ...Read more

Recovering from a friendship collision

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Hi, Carolyn:

Years ago, I had a friend named "Amy" who was very explosive and ended up being verbally abusive toward me. I ended that relationship.

Fast-forward to today -- my closest friend "Julie" has recently befriended Amy, and they do lots of social things together most weekends. I feel upset that Julie is becoming close with someone ...Read more

Dad's trust helps teenage son build confidence

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On liberating through boundaries:

When I was 16 and driving, I asked my dad if I could go out with my buddy Jeff for the night. Jeff was a tough, strong-willed troublemaker, and I appeared strong but was secretly meek.

After I returned, Dad told me that it was up to me what I did, but if ...Read more

Reframing a partner's unattractive qualities

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On the power of the mind, Part 1:

Try mentally reframing your attraction to your partner. Culturally we seem inclined to treat attraction as an involuntary, have-it-or-don't type of thing. To a certain extent that's true. However, within limits -- both of your own mental flexibility and ...Read more

A husband's gift of protection

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

Love 1, Dysfunction 0:

When I remarried, the greatest gift my new (and older) husband gave me was defense against my mother.

When she made her snarky comments, many I'd heard since early childhood and throughout my first marriage, he would touch her gently on the forearm (she hated being ...Read more

Endeavoring to treat each child fairly, if not the same

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On favoritism:

As the parent of three boys (high school, middle school and preschool), I can say without reservation that I love them equally. Each can be a pain in his own special way, and each is very different from the other. So my relationships with each of them are different, but they...Read more

No guests allowed on the family vacation

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On who-brings-whom battles over family vacations:

As the mother of four now-grown children, our family vacation policy was, and still is, NO ring, NO bring. If you are engaged or married, your partner is totally welcomed. If not, they are not included on our family vacations. The formally ...Read more

How to handle cruel elders

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On dealing with historically mean elders, Part 1:

My cruel stepmother outlived my father. When he died, I thought I would be done with her. But I just couldn't do it.

My decision while she was living and as she neared the end was a version of warm civility. I called her on the phone to ...Read more

A case for treating adult children like adults

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

While I'm away, readers give the advice.

On sleeping arrangements for unmarrieds:

While we were still dating, my wife's parents didn't want us sharing a room out of some random puritanical inclination. It was somewhat superficial because they knew we would sleep in each other's rooms while at college, and we usually stayed up ...Read more

Frustrated by friend's ever-changing plans

Life Advice / Carolyn Hax /

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I have a friend whose schedule changes frequently. Recently, she changed our "plans" to get together from Tuesday to Monday to Wednesday. How do I spend time with her without feeling shuffled around?

-- Frequently Rescheduled

If you are being shuffled around, then you should feel ...Read more

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