July 6, 2017
My husband and I have been having a rough time for 18 months. I discovered some emotional infidelity on his phone. We tried counseling; it didn’t work. And we did our best to keep our difficulties from our daughters (ages 14 and 15). But when we announced our decision to divorce, the girls were furious. Their argument boils down to the fact that we made vows — which include them — and we are breaking them without consulting them. Do they have a point?
Let’s call them point-adjacent. I have witnessed a truckload of marital breakdowns in my day. Many couples, like you and your husband, try to shield the kiddies from ugliness for as long as possible. (Only makes sense, right?) So, when couples announce their decision to divorce, it often comes as a body blow to the poor children. How could they not resent a major decision that blindsides them and bulldozes family life as they know it?
Now, this does not invalidate your decision or even give the girls a bargaining seat at the table. Better to break a vow than keep it and cause greater harm. (Let’s hear it for the kids of angry marriages.) I suspect that you and your husband have given much thought to the effect of divorce on the girls. So now comes time for you and your husband to explain your separation and what it will mean for them.
You can do this in the family room or with a family therapist. I caution you to work out, with your husband, the specific game plan and details you will share. (They probably don’t need to know about his iPhilandering.) Also important: providing a patient and unified front. It took you 18 months to figure this out. Don’t expect the girls to jump onboard overnight. But handled sensitively, they’ll get there.
Veto Power Misplaced
I am taking my niece and nephew (and their respective fiancés) to a celebratory brunch. I also invited their parents. Later, I asked if I could invite my cousin and his partner, with whom I am close. I am paying the entire cost of this meal, which will be $850. Still, my niece responded that she would rather not have my cousin and his partner join us. No reason was given. My cousin is not yet aware of the meal. Any suggestions?
In a nod to conventional wisdom, let’s say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” — unless, perhaps, it gives those who answer the questions more clout than we mean to. Why ask your niece if she minds brunching with your cousin if you don’t care what she says?
You may be thinking that your $850 should buy you the guest list of your choice. I don’t disagree. But then, I didn’t give your niece veto power over invitations — which she has now exercised. Next time, avoid pre-clearing guests with each other. Most people, other than Mika and 45, can probably get through a plate of eggs Benedict without coming to bloody blows (or bloodier tweet storms).
Not Ga-Ga for Baby Talk
I have a colleague who speaks in an exaggerated baby voice when men are around. I know this isn’t her normal voice; she reverts to that when the men clear out. In fairness, she is in college, as am I and the guys. But it makes me cringe. Not only is she demeaning herself, but I find it demeaning to all women. Can I say something?
“A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (Or: Tiny details make huge differences.) If only you had written “friend,” instead of “colleague,” I might have pretzeled myself into some justification for butting into the vocal inflections of others. Alas, you did not. Nor did you present evidence that you have been elected boss of all women, who are, at last count, free to speak as they choose.
Still, you, yourself, planted the hopeful seed for dealing with this colleague: You are all in college still. Sometimes, very young men and women like to experiment with gender markers — like hyper-masculinity and -femininity — at the outset of adulthood. With luck, she will soon discover that playing Betty Boop is just as annoying as bro-ing out to the max.
I work in a human resources department. So, I have access to personnel records. A good friend of mine at the company has started dating a woman in a different department — no conflict there! Trouble is, she lied to him about her age, deducting four years. She is 29, not 25. Should I tell my friend the truth?
I don’t know where you did your H.R. training, but you seem to have been absent on the day they taught that personal information about employees is confidential and only to be used for company business. Keep quiet about the girlfriend’s age. It may be hard, but trust the universe to give your pal a glimpse of her passport or driver’s license soon enough. Loving relationships have weathered worse. (And to many of us, 29 is still breathtakingly young.)