Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Our Friend is Demanding We Stop Socializing with His Ex-Wife”

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:

I dated someone five years ago, and we had a great relationship, but he broke up with me because he “didn’t feel right.” He has tried to be in contact many times since then, told friends he made a mistake and is ready to marry me, etc. A few weeks ago, I finally started talking to him again, and he said he has always cared about me, I’m one of the best people he ever dated, and he wants something more than casual to see where it goes. He also told me that he ended things because he knew I wanted another child, but he didn’t and didn’t want to deprive me of that (I have had another child since).

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.

***************

You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

79 comments… add one
  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 9:23 am

    Semi-related, what do you say when someone says they’ve miscarried previously to you? While at my part time job earlier this week, a customer randomly offered up she’d miscarried earlier in the summer but was pregnant again. I tried to just smile and say good luck with this pregnancy, but I think that might have been rude? Since I don’t know this woman AT ALL, I was at a total loss for words.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki October 18, 2013, 9:27 am

      I think that was an ok response. Especially if she was willing to offer up the information to you. That’s probably about what I would have said too.

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      starpattern October 18, 2013, 9:32 am

      I think that’s the best thing you could have said. Without knowing the person well enough to know how they’d handle something like that, it’s hard to know how to best respond.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle October 18, 2013, 9:34 am

      I think your response was graceful— “good luck with this pregnancy” acknowledges the miscarriage while focusing on the good news.

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    • avatar

      MMcG October 18, 2013, 10:06 am

      I agree with the commenters above GG… some women/people treat miscarriages as the loss of a baby with the grief and pain one would expect from losing a child, others act more like a pregnancy that just wasn’t meant to be and move on without as much emotional attachment. If a random woman was willing to inform you of her miscarriage while telling you good news – she likely falls into the latter camp and wouldn’t have thought your response was rude at all (I mean she’s telling strangers in stores!).

      Either way a good luck or best wishes is always a safe bet, and I wouldn’t give this interaction a second thought.

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    • katie

      katie October 18, 2013, 10:13 am

      i think that good luck is always a good response, right? i mean i dont see how you could be offended by that, in any situation really. unless she thought you were being sarcastic? which i dont think happened.

      but, im glad she was talking about it! you know, honestly, because of the terrible culture we have around miscarriage, some random stranger at a store might have been, to this woman, a “safe” space to confess her miscarriage. you dont know her, you wont judge her, you wont tell all her family and friends, bla bla bla… that may have been it. which is shitty, still, but maybe thats all it was.

      also, like MM said, she might not see a miscarriage as so terrible.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 10:22 am

      It was a very strange exchange- she was asking about maternity clothes and not wanting to spend too much yet since she was only 9 weeks, but was showing and trying to hid it, but was hesitant because the miscarried earlier in the summer, and why doesn’t Kohl’s have a bigger maternity section? She was super upbeat so I’m pretty sure she falls in the later “it wasn’t meant to be” camp.

      I think my self questioning comes from so many DWers having expressed such grief after their miscarriage. Glad no one thinks I was a jerk!

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 18, 2013, 2:26 pm

        I don’t think you were a jerk, but even if you were… someone offering up intensely personal details to complete strangers sorta deserve whatever response you give them. Its one thing for a good friend or relative to tell you this and you be a jerk, but really, what business does she have telling random Kohl’s employees about the state of her uterus.

        Idk, maybe I’m being harsh but I don’t want this lady or others to make you feel bad when in that case she was definitely the one overstepping boundaries.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle October 18, 2013, 9:33 am

    The first letter sounds vaguely familiar? But yeah, WWS. If he’s being awkward, confrontational, & aggressively demanding, then HE should be cut out. It’s not his business who you guys spend time with, even if he feels it is.

    LW2: you were in the forums, right? I sort of want an update.

    LW3: Wendy’s suggested responses are good.

    /end lethargic comment

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  • avatar

    starpattern October 18, 2013, 9:36 am

    I really like Wendy’s response to LW1. It sucks when a couple in your social circle splits, and you have to figure out how to navigate it, but this is honestly the best way to handle it. Stay in touch with both of them, just don’t invite them together. Unfortunately, one or both of them might move on from this group of friends eventually as they process the divorce and want a clean slate.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna October 18, 2013, 9:43 am

    LW1: It’s a big no-no to ask your friends to cut someone out of their circle (unless it’s an abusive person or something like that). If the guy wants to spend some time with you & the other friends and without his ex-wife, HE can suggest plans that do not include her. But he shouldn’t try to get involved with the plans others want to make. That’s just very rude.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna October 18, 2013, 9:46 am

      And if someone got confrontational with me about this, they would be gone from my circle of friends.

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 18, 2013, 10:10 am

        Couldn’t agree more! This guy sounds like a controlling jackass… after a decade of friendship to expect people to just cut people out because of problems/issues that weren’t abusive and had nothing to do with them is BS.

        Of course the whole telling the husbands to control their wives about who they choose to speak to in their free time would make me want to not interact with Frank at all for me own reasons. Fuck you Frank 😉

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 10:25 am

        Yeah, Frank would be dead to me.

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      • Amybelle

        Amybelle October 18, 2013, 11:24 am

        That “tell your wives not to talk to Miranda” pissed me off too, I am hating Frank so hard now. Team Miranda!

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      • avatar

        Liquid Luck October 18, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Seriously, if he thinks husbands are allowed to tell their wives who they can and cannot have as friends, then Miranda is well rid of him.

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 18, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Seriously… I went from team we aren’t going to choose sides to team Miranda as well. If I was the LW all I would say to Frank the next time he insisted on telling me who my friends could be is “I was trying my best not to get involved in your personal life, or choose sides, as what happened in your marriage is really none of my business, but now I want to say thanks for making it obvious which side I am going to choose – which has nothing to do with your divorce or infidelity issues and everything to do with your behavior towards me and my husband. Keep your drama and demands out of my life. And if you can’t… Ba-Bye!”

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 18, 2013, 12:07 pm

        JINX LL on the seriously!! 🙂

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 18, 2013, 2:31 pm

        Yeah this whole thing totally rubbed me the wrong way. I mean “tell your wives not to talk to her” is so freaking creepy and controlling and weird. If my husband ever said ‘You can’t talk to X person because her ex-husband asked me to tell you not to” I would a) try to be her bff and b) never speak to that dude again. And I might suggest instead that my husband not hang out with such a cretin (lord knows he has some questionable friends though, so he probably would).

        If I were you I would do exactly as Wendy says: invite Miranda to the women and couples things and let your husband hang out with Frank without you … if he even wants to.

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  • avatar

    sohpronisba October 18, 2013, 9:59 am

    LW2 Please proceed with caution. Reports of what Dude said to other people that he hasn’t said to your face are meaningless. He was just testing the waters, knowing word would get back to you. Also, would someone please inform me what kind of jobs are so extraordinary (other than Navy SEAL) that you never, ever know when your days off will be? ‘Cause it sure sounds like a raft of crap to me..

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  • avatar

    Marcie October 18, 2013, 10:00 am

    I feel like the first two questions sound familiar…

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  • avatar

    painted_lady October 18, 2013, 10:04 am

    LW3, I’m so sorry you’re having these issues. I would say something along the lines of, “I would really appreciate it if you wouldn’t ask me any more questions about my pregnancy or lack thereof. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that what goes into trying to conceive is very, very private, and the reasons behind not having done so yet are private as well as potentially very, very painful, which makes questions about it awkward and painful. Please don’t ask me again and trust that I will tell you any news that I wish to share.” I advocate being direct about your discomfort without giving away more than you’re comfortable with (I actually gave this guy who approached me outside Starbucks this morning an earful about why it isn’t okay to approach a woman alone in a dark parking lot if you don’t know her, and if she gives you an “I’m in a hurry,” or “No thank you,” YOU NEED TO GO THE FUCK AWAY). I think it gets the message across VERY clearly without having to go through the whole awful story, and if people are offended or embarrassed, great. They offended and embarrassed you, and they need to think before they open their big traps.

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    • avatar

      MMcG October 18, 2013, 10:14 am

      That’s such a nice response but I wouldn’t even give that much information, since it sounds like a bunch of family members who wouldn’t respect a boundary if it fell on them. I really like your last sentence – “Please don’t ask me again and trust that I will tell you any news that I wish to share.” When that doesn’t work, because people think they are entitled to be up all in your business… “I already asked nicely once, I am not talking about this subject because it is none of your business” and WALK AWAY.

      If it gets too difficult minimize the time you have to spend with these busybodies, and make sure your husband is on the same page. One warning, and then depart.

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      • avatar

        painted_lady October 18, 2013, 1:23 pm

        Oh yours are great, too. And I agree that the LW may very well not be comfortable giving out that much information – I know it opens up more questions, but I’d probably give that last line like a broken record in that case, until they got the point. But everyone deals with confrontation in their own way, and I tend to take the direct route, which a lot of people (hi Mom!) think of as too confrontational. Like Katie was saying below, if the LW is okay sharing why she hasn’t had a baby yet, she shouldn’t worry about being inappropriate as her relatives have ensured that ship has sailed awhile back. But obviously, if she doesn’t even want to risk additional questions, she shouldn’t have to.

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  • genevathene

    genevathene October 18, 2013, 10:07 am

    LW3: Please read up on and check yourself for the MTHFR gene mutation, which would prevent you from converting folic acid to vitamin B12 properly, and is a common yet relatively unknown cause of multiple miscarriages. I recently discovered I had it through analyzing my genetic data from 23andme, but your insurance should cover the test due to your miscarriages. Pregnant women especially are encouraged to take folic acid as a prenatal, but for people with the mutation, the synthetic acid just builds up in your system (and can cause other problems, like raising your homocysteine levels, which increases your chances of heart attack and stroke).

    Learning about this mutation helped explain so many of my health problems over the past ten years, which none of the doctors I saw could help with until I did my own research. Just wanted to share that with you, in case it would be helpful going forward. Best wishes to you and your husband — hang in there!

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  • katie

    katie October 18, 2013, 10:09 am

    so, i agree that LW1 cant really hang out with the ex-couple anymore, but i dont think that the hang outs should then be split by gender lines. what if one of the guys is good friends with the former wife? what if the guys actually dont really want to hang out with him anymore- because unless this is really out of character for him, he kind of sounds like an ass…? i say you live your life the way you want and invite whomever you want to whatever you want. i would be sensitive to the fact that they obviously dont want to be around each other, maybe let them know if the other is invited, ect, but …. dont just be like “the girls get the girl, the boys get the boy!”. thats lame.

    to LW3- i would just say to tell them what happened. miscarriages are experienced totally in silence in our country and its very sad. they happen all the time! i hate the culture that surrounds it. so i say that you just plainly explain, we are trying and we had some miscarriages. its been rough. i say to not hide your pain from people who *should* be there for you during that pain. if its just your annoying distant relatives who would be the ones to ask about everything anyway, embarrassing or not, then just respond with the stock stuff that people answer through those situations.

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    • avatar

      painted_lady October 18, 2013, 10:22 am

      Yeah, if she’s comfortable talking about it, she should absolutely feel free to say so. But sometimes it’s not shame so much as not wanting to deal with potential questions or pity or just wanting this to be hers alone so no one can make it about themselves. And while we should absolutely encourage women who want to share to do so, no one should have to feel obligated to share for the sake of others.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 10:27 am

        i dont disagree, i just think if the culture was different we wouldnt even need to make that choice, because there wouldnt then be the pity, ect. it would just be another part of life, which is what it actually is, its just that no one will admit to that or talk about it.

        the wanting to ask questions, that will happen no matter what- healthy pregnancy, miscarriage, fertility method…

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 10:36 am

        Just because it’s another part of life doesn’t mean it’s not sad/devastating and, while I agree the over all cloud around miscarrying needs to dissipate, people should be allowed to deal with/greive it how they want. I feel like you’re saying people just need to brush it off, like “oh it happens” and I don’t think that’s okay. (Hopefully I’m reading you wrong.)

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 10:41 am

        no, im saying that if people didnt think miscarriage was this super rare, indicative of other issues, “failure” of a woman thing, it wouldnt have the weight it has when you tell people about it.

        of course everyone can deal with things in the way they want to, but the culture we have around miscarriage is ridiculously terrible, and it hurts much more then it helps.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 10:53 am

        Well, IMO even if some of the stigma was gone, the weight would still be there. Like MMcG said above, people are either in the camp of “that’s life, it happens” or “I’ve lost a child”. So yeah, I guess we just see this differently.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 11:02 am

        well, what about the people who actually lose their children? like their living, breathing children? those people dont have to hide and cover anything up. they are allowed to grieve in the way they see fit, so then why do women who do believe they lost a living breathing child (which is totally valid, even though i fall on the other side) forced to hide and tietoe around that? i feel terrible for them, especially after seeing what losing a child does to a mother (friends of mine lost their 3 or 4 month old. its horrible). no one should have to suffer in silence and embarrassment. its ridiculous.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 11:13 am

        Yeah, you’re apparently not getting what I’m saying either. It IS ridiculous that there is such a stigma around miscarrying. Yes, 110% agree. I’m not even sure what to say in response…

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      • avatar

        rachel October 18, 2013, 11:24 am

        I don’t think Katie was saying there wouldn’t be a weight of loss. Of course if you want the child, the loss will be palpable. I think she’s just talking about the weight of responsibility. The burden on the mother to do everything right, and the guilt when something goes wrong. Like, if more people talked about how often miscarriages actually happen, it might relieve some of that burden.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 11:32 am

        That makes sense, but completely not what I got from what she was saying.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 11:35 am

        yes. it shouldnt be this silent, embarrassing thing. it should be another part of life that you can share with your loved ones. and if that is as simple as “oh, it just didnt happen that time” no big deal thing, or if it is a very real loss of a child, it shouldnt be suffered in silence.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 11:43 am

        I guess my issue with it is, why SHOULD it be something you share? We can all agree there shouldn’t be any shame in a miscarriage…but if I chose to grieve with just my husband that should be just as accepted as if I shouted it from rooftops.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 11:45 am

        I don’t know if that came out right, but basically I think this is something that each woman gets to decide if she’s comfortable sharing, and what ever they choose is the right answer. Share, don’t share, write a poem, paint a picture…anything is the right answer.

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      • CatsMeow

        CatsMeow October 18, 2013, 12:00 pm

        Yeah, I don’t fully understand the culture of shame/silence around miscarriages and infertility either. Any woman (or man) can choose to share with whomever s/he wants, but I wish the attitudes around it would change. And of course the decision to keep it private is influenced by culture, I mean, because everything is.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson October 18, 2013, 12:01 pm

        You know what I think is crazy? You pretty much won’t know if you’re going to have fertility issues until you try. So crazy. Like I could be walking around with low egg count (or whatever it’s called) and not even know it. This weird sick competitive part of me wants to know if I can do it – but it would be even weirder and sicker to have a baby just to see if I can. Life is weird. Friday’s ‘are weird. It’s going to be weird when I have beer for lunch today.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 12:03 pm

        I can’t tell you the overwhelming majority would do anything if the climate changed, because truly no one knows what would happen.

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      • avatar

        rachel October 18, 2013, 12:05 pm

        GG – absolutely everyone gets to decide how they grieve. But there are, it seems, many women who would rather have the support to help them deal, from friends or whoever, but don’t feel comfortable talking about it due to the weird way society views things. Saying that we wish more people talk about it isn’t the same as saying that we think everyone has to.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 12:08 pm

        sampson- i think about that too! and i dont even really want kids. but i just always wonder, what if something is totally wrong, i would never know!

        also, i said that to a high school boyfriend once, like, what if you cant have kids? what would you do? ect- and he got SO OFFENDED. it was weird. probably just more stigma about the whole thing, but very weird.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 11:54 am

        well yes, but the overwhelming majority of women suffer in silence about miscarriages. the data shows that, there are foundations started to let women talk about it, even anonymously, because keeping it in is never a good thing.

        you cannot tell me that if the culture surrounding miscarriage was different, the overwhelming majority would all act in silence. given all the different ways people deal with grief and other issues (like you say, paint a picture, shout it from the rooftops, ect), that wouldnt happen.

        i personally dont care how any one individual deals with issues, provided its a healthy way to deal, but the problem is that women dont share because they dont have the choice. they are not truly, authentically choosing silence. they are forced to silence.

        http://www.compassionatefriends.org/brochures/stillbirth_miscarriage_and_infant_death.aspx

        http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2011/06/Overcoming-Stigma-A-Film-Story-of-Stillbirth-Miscarriage

        all of these, along with countless other foundations im sure, mention how they hope to give people a space to talk about the loss because society wont let them.

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 18, 2013, 12:13 pm

        Katie – I think the issue that I am having, while agreeing with your overall point that it is a normal part of life, is that there is stigma attached to lots of medical issues and it really is within the rights of the person having them to share or not share as they wish. I mean people get judged for having diabetes if they are overweight, people who get lung cancer are assumed to be smokers who didn’t take care of themselves, the stigma associated with AIDS, etc.

        I guess I just fall into the category that it would be nice if it was something that women talked more openly about — but this isn’t the only medical issue that comes with burdens and stigma and people really should just do what makes them comfortable. As I wrote above, I know mothers who miscarried and went on with their lives like nothing happened, and others who had a funeral — in some cases it has nothing to do with stigma or feeling like it is their fault, just that people grieve differently and are more open/closed about ALL their medical conditions.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 12:16 pm

        very true, and all those stigmas are ridiculous and need to go away.

        but, based on all the information out there, more women want to be able to talk about this. that is just true, and im sure that its true for all those other issues as well!

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      • avatar

        MMcG October 18, 2013, 12:20 pm

        I also must have really open friends and coworkers because I know numerous women who have had miscarriages and didn’t feel any shame or conflict in discussing it… but then again they usually only discussed it with people they were comfortable talking about getting pregnant with in the first place. I feel really bad for women who seem to have no one to talk to – including their partners – or have seemingly taken on the shame and blame for something that went wrong at the moment of conception, that they had no control over, and could have just as easily been a problem with the sperm as the egg.

        Personally, I am planning to wait till the end of my 1st trimester to tell people in case something happens… but that isn’t because I would feel ashamed about a miscarriage. I don’t share personal medical details with many folks normally, and the other side of the coin (where I think there is actually more judging and stigma) is if I found out something was wrong and chose to terminate — totally normal and shouldn’t be as emotionally charged but you have no idea what people’s opinions are in terms of abortion and what can of worms you might be opening. Not worth it to me.

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      • GatorGirl

        GatorGirl October 18, 2013, 12:34 pm

        yes! I wish I could express myself better!

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      • kare

        kare October 18, 2013, 10:33 pm

        @katie – I think you’re right that it shouldn’t be such a stigma. My aunt had a miscarriage previously and she posts something once a year about it on Facebook. Like not in mourning…but how no one should suffer the pain of a miscarriage alone, and that she wished she had known that when she went through hers.

        My friend that’s pregnant right now didn’t even tell her doctor about her miscarriages.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 18, 2013, 11:35 am

        yeah i read it the same way rachel. that women are made to feel like even if they wanted to talk about it, they shouldn’t. not that how you deal with it is wrong, but, that everyone is forced to feel like they have to keep it a secret. based on the way people respond to them opening up?

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  • avatar

    Callifax October 18, 2013, 10:43 am

    My coworkers and I are all pretty tight, but one of the guys keeps teasing the women (all in our late 20s and early 30s) about when we’ll be having kids. Any time one of us has a headache, or is hungry, or whatever, he always jokes that maybe we’re pregnant. Finally, one of the ladies got fed up and said, “You know, not everyone who wants kids can have them.” He hasn’t brought it up since.

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      MMcG October 18, 2013, 11:00 am

      Good for your coworker – idiot probably hadn’t even thought of that while trying to be funny.

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      Marcie October 18, 2013, 12:42 pm

      That is awesome! I hate that everyone jumps to conclusions all the time if a woman is sick or tired a lot. I said something about being nauseous on FB once (won’t do that again!) and people jumped all over me assuming I was pregnant.

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        SpaceySteph October 18, 2013, 2:36 pm

        Ha I was on the night shift a couple months ago and I wasn’t doing so well at changing my sleep schedule. I told my mom I was feeling nauseous and she was like “maybe you’re pregnant!”

        So then I panicked and bought a pregnancy test and… not pregnant! But really, there are 1000 reasons to be nauseous. Why don’t we default to “ate some bad Mexican” instead?

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  • avatar

    mertlej October 18, 2013, 11:36 am

    I was at a board meeting the other day, and was elected to a position on the exec committee – i was talking to the VP, and he made an offhand comment about how i’m now position x and position y, and I said “um, no, I’m position X. What about Joe, who was elected to position y?” And this guy goes “oh, well, he just had a baby so he’ll be super busy. I don’t know if that makes you feel bad about yourself or anything, but…”

    What. the. eff. I just gaped at him. WHO SAYS THAT?

    Reply Link
    • katie

      katie October 18, 2013, 11:40 am

      at least he recognizes that the father is going to be busy after his baby is born…..?

      but, why would that make you feel bad about yourself? im confused.

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    • avatar

      starpattern October 18, 2013, 11:47 am

      I would also be baffled if someone said something like that to me. Why would you feel bad about yourself because someone else had a baby? …And why would you have to take on their work in addition to your own?

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    • avatar

      mertlej October 18, 2013, 12:40 pm

      I honestly have no idea. He was basically assuming that hearing that someone else had a baby would make me feel bad… which is the most bizarre thing ever. I also didn’t appreciate the assumption that I’d just take over his role – I was actually elected because the previous holder of my position was too busy to handle all of the responsibilities. If the new dad is too busy (which is totally valid), maybe they should have someone new take over.

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      • avatar

        Marcie October 18, 2013, 12:45 pm

        I wonder if he thinks that every woman that doesn’t have kids or isn’t pregnant currently has baby fever and is desperate for a kid. Which we all know is totally not true.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 12:58 pm

        most likely.

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  • avatar

    AliceInDairyland October 18, 2013, 10:37 am

    LW 3, personally I think your response should be (without skipping a beat): “When you stop asking intrusive questions.” Then just change the subject (What is new in your life recently?) and move on. Remember, you are in control of the information you give about your private life. You shouldn’t have to feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone.

    Even if people are well meaning, we can still train others to modify their behavior. What do you do with a naughty incessant dog? Abruptly catch their attention and then direct their attention elsewhere. It doesn’t have to be mean, or prolonged, or anything like that. A small verbal correction followed by an easy path out of the verbal situation. You don’t have to cowtow, or apologize, or justify your life in any way. Just startle and redirect, and be genuinely interested in the new subject.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      AliceInDairyland October 18, 2013, 11:16 am

      Other option:

      “My uterus is not up for that conversation.”

      (In my experience, any time you bring up reproductive organs people are only too happy to change the subject)

      Reply Link
      • Fabelle

        Fabelle October 18, 2013, 11:26 am

        “So when are you finally having a BABEEEEE???”

        “When one of my ovums is successfully fertilized by Richard’s sperm, & the combined cells attach successfully to the wall of my uterus!”

        “…”

        ” 😀 “

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 11:38 am

        haha, i love that! and i love how science-y it is of course.

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      • avatar

        starpattern October 18, 2013, 11:47 am

        This is amazing.

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      • avatar

        AliceInDairyland October 18, 2013, 11:37 am

        Yesss…. SCIENCE TO SILENCE.

        That’s my new motto.

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 11:40 am

        oh god, i love that! at work this week we adopted “the data will set you free” and then my director said we should get Tshirts made. haha

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray October 18, 2013, 11:50 am

    LW3, I have definitely been the well-meaning but clueless friend before! I used to ask one of my dearest friends and former coworkers when she was going to have another baby. Or rather, I used to like to predict that she was pregnant. So one time I said ,”Omg you’re not drinking you’re totally pregnant, aren’t you!?” She said no. Well I did it again a few months later and this time she came into my office and shut my door and said yes she is pregnant but to be quiet about it because she’s only a few weeks along and even their parents don’t know yet because the last time I guessed she was pregnant she actually had just had a miscarriage and was going through a really hard time and they’re afraid of another miscarriage …. WHOOPS-A-DAISY! Actually I’m not remembering the entire exchange vividly. Maybe that was with her first, not her second child, and maybe she called me out on asking if she was pregnant earlier on. … I don’t know, I’ve blocked it from my memory because it’s all very embarrassing. I felt so bad that I made her feel bad and that I was such a dummy about those things. NOW I NEVER EVER ask when someone’s having kids or if they’re pregnant … I mean, I never really did that except yes I did to newlyweds, like I wanted to guess it first or something? I don’t know. The point is, I’m reformed! PEOPLE CAN BE FIXED! And on behalf of all clueless dummies everywhere, we are sorry, we mean well, we are just stupid!

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      bethany October 18, 2013, 12:19 pm

      Something similar happned to me recently. A friend at work asked me to baby sit his 2 year old one night after work. So I was like “Oh, are you guys goign to dinner?” and he said no, but was kind of weird about it and said they were going to a seminar. Out of the blue I was like “Omg, you’re going to the (insert local “natural birth center” here), aren’t you?!” And they totally were. I knew they wanted another kid, and I just guessed it. He said she was only 4 weeks along. The next week she miscarried. He said it was her 2nd one this go around.

      So anyway, lesson learned. When people want to tell you something, they’ll tell you on their own.

      Reply Link
  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark October 18, 2013, 1:03 pm

    LW1) Yikes… divorces are often needlessly messy. That said, poor Frank is probably super pissed at being gaslighted. His affair first came to light and the wife, it appears, had fun playing tragic victim to everybody. Only LATER does it come out that she, too, was stepping out. Classy. Real classy. Not somebody, I’d be friends with. Hey, I have no problems with affairs. But playing the martyr. Making your partner feel like an asshole while all the time you have been indulging in an affair yourself? Um, fuck you. I despise hypocrits…

    LW2) I am not at all sure what you were expecting at this point — only that your wants here are very unrealistic.

    LW3) These people MEAN well. Nobody is a mindreader. If you don’t want people to know your troubles — you really can’t get too upset with them for NOT knowing them. At least that’s my opinion.

    Reply Link
    • iwannatalktosampson

      iwannatalktosampson October 18, 2013, 1:13 pm

      She might have started the affair after she found out about his, and that is the impression I got. Either way this is a perfect example of why you just get divorced if you know you’ll never forgive infidelity. It’s that simple. She shouldn’t have tried to work through it if she clearly couldn’t.

      Reply Link
      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark October 18, 2013, 1:33 pm

        Oh. Please. This letter is so pro-wife, had that been the case, the LW surely would have spelled that out as a tit for tat affair. My bet? That extended business trip was equal parts business and pleasure. The LW is deliberately vague here. And people tend to do that when a clearer picture undermines their argument…

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      • katie

        katie October 18, 2013, 1:44 pm

        well, it is written by (most likely) the wife’s friend, so i get the bias. i mean honestly though, at the point of an affiar-for-affair exchange, it all equals out in my opinion. they both suck, did stupid shit, and now they are divorced so everyone gets a new start- fine, whatever. its not my relationship and i dont care…. but what is my relationship is my friendship with one or both of them. this ex husband cant dictate that, and thats a dick move. and, that dick move doesnt mean the ex wife is some wonderful person deserving of pity. it can stand on its own.

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      • avatar

        d2 October 19, 2013, 9:29 am

        Irrelevant distinction. No matter who had an affair first, Frank is still out of line for attempting to dictate to outside third parties with whom they can and cannot have relationships.

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  • avatar

    Banana October 18, 2013, 2:25 pm

    LW3 reminds me of some great advice from Dear Prudence, to anyone out there who ever feels the urge to ask when someone else is having kids/if they’re trying/when they’re going to:

    The answer is ALWAYS either going to be that they aren’t interested in trying yet; or they have been trying and they haven’t succeeded yet (otherwise, you’d be hearing about how they’re pregnant). In the first case, it’s none of your business when they make that decision. In the second, it’s incredibly painful to discuss. These are pretty much the only two possible answers.

    So even if your intentions are good, remember that anytime you feel like asking that question. And then shut up.

    (obviously this is directed at the people who ask the LW questions, not the LW herself!)

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    llclarityll October 18, 2013, 3:21 pm

    LW #2, what about what YOU want? The entire letter was “he wants,” “he wanted,” he thinks.” What about you?

    Also, curious, Wendy, why you typed “loss(es)” instead of “losses.” It is indeed multiple losses for the LW.

    Reply Link
    • katie

      katie October 18, 2013, 3:24 pm

      im sure its because “im sorry for your loss” is a super common phrase. adding the (es) recognizes that it is, in fact, multiple.

      Reply Link
    • Dear Wendy

      Wendy October 18, 2013, 6:46 pm

      That’s sort of nitpicky of you. I typed it that way because I am sorry for the multiple losses and especially the most recent one since that is what prompted her letter to me.

      Reply Link
  • kare

    kare October 18, 2013, 10:40 pm

    Is anyone else afraid that if they say something to a relative/friend/coworker implying that they are trying to get pregnant but have been unable to do so that those people will bombard them with “advice”? (“Try this position, eat this food, wear these boxers, etc.”) Just because sometimes people that are rude enough to ask this question are usually rude enough to offer their perspective on what you’re doing “wrong”.

    Reply Link

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