Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband recently told me he had fallen for another woman. I was stunned, but even more when he said he had informed my daughters of his desires before he spoke to me. Both daughters stood up to him, he and I have come to a fragile understanding that he really does want to stay in the marriage, but I can't get over the breach of him confiding in his own children before me.
I recently opened up to the eldest child and, while remaining respectful of their father and cognizant that our marriage will continue, gave her a tiny bit of insight into her father's less-than-stellar behaviors throughout our marriage. I told her I still loved him, but felt she needed to understand his happy-go-lucky approach came at a price ... my fear.
She seemed content, she and I agreed it was a conversation she needed to hear, and this will end all talk of our marital life. Have I really crossed a huge line?
Carolyn says: Without knowing what you actually said, I can't say whether you crossed a line. And I can't know whether you will honor your pledge not to put her in the middle again — a huge factor.
What interests me more here is why, why, why you want to stay married to this man. By your own description, if I read you correctly, you live in fear. Whose company is worth that?
"I was stunned ... he had informed my daughters of his desires before he spoke to me": What's stunning here is his total lack of respect for you. As Carolyn said, why do you love someone who has no respect for you?
A very tired joke
Dear Carolyn: Silly question: I have a neighbor who I run into a few times a week as we walk our respective dogs, and for the past six months she has made a variation of the same joke every single time. It's based on an aspect of my appearance that changed around then, and is not mean or insulting, but I'm over it from sheer repetition. I think it started as a legit "Wow!" reaction, and the fact that I replied jokingly as if I was unaware of the change made it seem like "our shtick."
I've tried to change up my responses, from a flat, "Yep, still there," to a non sequitur about a different topic, but she keeps doing it. To flat-out say, "Stop commenting on this aspect of my appearance" seems rude, though I have a feeling this straightforward approach will be your suggestion. She has taken even the hint of criticism poorly in the past, and the fact that we are just friendly acquaintances having short chats makes me hesitant to be as direct as I would with a friend. I just really want this "joke" to die.
Carolyn says: "Yep, I'm officially out of responses. Can we start a new joke?" Direct but light. If even that fails, yes, just direct: "Please stop commenting on this aspect of my appearance. Thank you."
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.