Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law told me she questions her son's (my husband's) paternity. She claims her ex, his father, doesn't know. She said she wanted me to know in case something happens to her and there's a medical reason to know such information. She didn't want to tell my husband because she fears how it might affect her relationship with him.
I feel like I'm keeping a secret from my husband. I don't think it's my place to tell him, though. Do I just carry the weight of this information and not say anything? Do I tell her she needs to disclose this to him or I will?
Carolyn says: Explain to her, calmly and kindly, that you understand her concern that telling him might affect her relationship with her son.
However — and unfortunately — your having this knowledge and keeping it from him has started to affect your relationship with her son.
And you can't have that. You can't hold her secret — one you never asked for — in your marriage.
Once you spell out the problem for her, then, yes, you say she needs to tell him or you will. I'm sorry you're on this spot.
Dear Carolyn: I have a chronic health problem I've been dealing with for a couple of years now. I can't eat a whole bunch of things and had some weight loss. A lot of people, even good friends and family, can't just say they're sorry I'm suffering; they have to comment, "You look great!" or even, "I wish I had that problem!"
I never wanted to lose weight! And they seem to think I should be happy about this. And the cultural pressure to be slender is so strong I can't complain or just get really mad at them for this "compliment." I don't believe in commenting on people's weight — good, bad or indifferent. And having them comment on my weight as if it's supposed to somehow offset my suffering is so infuriating. Any clever suggestions?
Carolyn says: Clever, no, but meet my buddy "frank":
"The sickest thing here isn't me, it's that our preoccupation with weight is now so profound that my sickness is seen as a blessing."
I realize you have much bigger battles to fight than our society's warped values, but if you ever feel up to it, then, please, take a good swing at it.
Otherwise, have this handy: "I know you mean well/are just joking, but comments about weight aren't helpful to me."
Dear Carolyn: I know how you feel about snooping, but now that I have snooped, I don't know what to do with the disturbing info.
We have been married 30 years and have two grown children. To the outside world we are "perfect."
He is very attentive and we have an active sex life. But he has been communicating with a woman, with naked pics from her. It seems she is the aggressor, but he is an active participant.
He denies anything but friendship. He is not aware I've seen the texts. I know my choices, really, but just need someone to talk to.
Carolyn says: Then really talk to someone. Your concern for "the outside world" (which it probably doesn't deserve, but that's a separate battle) suggests you talk to a therapist for the confidentiality alone.
A good therapist can also help you figure out what to do next, why you're here in the first place — including what drove you to snoop — and how to tell your husband what you did.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.