It’s time again for Three-in-One, where I answer three letters in one column. This is like Shortcuts, but with fewer empty calories.
There are seven sets of couples in our circle of friends who have been very close for the past 9-10 years. About four years ago, one of the couples began to experience marriage troubles. “Frank” became involved with a girl he met online while his wife, “Miranda,” was away on an extended business trip. Frank and Miranda kept their problems mostly private and tried to work through his affair. About nine months ago, Miranda came clean about her own infidelity so she and Frank filed for divorce, and it was finalized about five months ago.
Since the divorce, more details about the demise of their marriage have come out and Frank is expecting that we drop Miranda from the circle of friends. He’s become extremely confrontational with the women who have remained in contact with Miranda, and he has asked the men to talk to their wives about not speaking to Miranda or including her in any events that we plan. We have all expressed that we want to remain friends with Miranda and have tried to have events where she does not attend, but Frank wants for us to “pick him” over her. — Not Picking Sides
Frank is being a jerk, but including both him AND Miranda in social events in the future probably won’t be much fun for anyone, so, going forward, include Miranda in events that are focused more around the women and sometimes the couples, and let the husbands include Frank in more guys-only events. If he asks why he isn’t included in group activities, tell him the women no longer enjoy his company due to his continued confrontational behavior.
From the forums:
He lives in another state now, and I went to see him last weekend. It was a great trip, and he says he wants to do this again and will come and see me as soon as he can (his job makes it impossible to make concrete plans more than a few days in advance), and that I come there again. I asked what this is, and he said we’re starting over. It seemed very positive, but now I wonder if it’s bad that he didn’t put a label on it; I also know that this was just our first time together in five years. Should I be worried that there is no label? — Label Conscious
No. I would be worried if there WERE a label after one date in five years with a man who lives in another state and whom you don’t know when you’ll see next. I’d proceed cautiously and withhold putting labels on anything until you feel you’re on the same page in terms of future goals, shared values, and what you’re looking for in a relationship.
My husband and I have been trying to conceive a child for about 10 months. In that time we’ve had two miscarriages, the most recent occurring in early Sept. at 9 weeks. We’re still trying and have been referred to an infertility specialist by my OB-Gyn, but the process and the ultimate result are still a large unknown to us. Since this is a very painful and personal experience, we have only told our closest family and friends. My question is how do we respond to those family/friends/acquaintances who don’t know about our situation when they ask us “When are you going to have a baby?!”.
I’m currently dealing with it by awkwardly laughing and immediately changing the subject, but, with the holiday season coming, I expect to be bombarded by this question from well-meaning but extremely nosy family members, mostly on my husband’s side. I don’t want to offend or upset anyone by saying, “Well, Aunt Edna, we were pregnant, but guess what? We lost TWO babies.” Or “Mind your own business, Granny!” But I really need to know how to address these invasive inquiries because, if I don’t, I’m going to be an emotional mess by New Year’s. — Mind Your Own Business
First, I’m so sorry for your loss(es), and I can only imagine how hurtful comments from well-meaning but clueless friends and family can be. There are several responses you can give. First of all, I wouldn’t be worried about offending people since they clearly aren’t worried about potentially offending you. When someone asks you when you’re going to have a baby, you could say something like, “We would love to have a baby and hope we are blessed with one soon.” (This gives the implication that you’re trying without giving away the details). Or, “As soon as we have good news to share, you’ll be among the first to hear,” which also gives the same implication that you’re trying and tactfully sends a message to STFU already. Finally, there’s the old: “We’re dealing with some issues we’d rather keep private for now, but we thank you for your concern.” The issues could be anything and I’m sure people will speculate, but they will probably stop asking you about a baby for a while.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.