While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On deciding whether to keep or end a friendship:
I try to ask myself if someone’s flaw is social or moral, and then I go from there. Someone who is awkward and interrupts others? Social flaw. A neighbor who gossips and spreads rumors about others? Moral flaw. This has helped me keep in the good, and weed out the bad.
On not taking or ceding too much control over small things:
My husband and I (married 40-plus years) have a simple solution for making minor decisions. We call it “list or pick.” One of us lists three choices (e.g., movies or restaurants) and the other person picks among the three. We both feel good about the decision.
Few Things Are Worth Fighting About
On the role of mother-in-law:
I am the mother of a son I love. My son is currently with a young woman he loves. Because he loves her I know she must be wonderful.
But for additional understanding you should realize that if my son marries this woman, she will have a lot to say about how frequently we continue to see my son. She will control my access to my potential grandchildren – will I only see them at holidays, will they call, how frequently will I have pictures, and so on. Her mother can worry about what she is wearing or if she is making a good job choice. It is not my job to judge this young woman. It is my job to make her feel welcome, to help her shine, and to make sure that she knows she always has my support and approval.
The Son’s Mother
On not getting too exercised over wedding gifts you don’t want:
Because someday the ugly handmade Afghan made by your godmother and never used will become your child’s favorite comfort/TV blanket. The too-big-for-anything glass bowl now holds a box of clementines perfectly. Those additional dishes or silverware will come in handy. The unusual vase is back in style.
And the real reason: Years later some of these people will no longer be in your life or will pass away, but when you see or use these items, you see their faces and hear their laughter. THAT is the true joy of a wedding gift.
On being asked how you are when you aren’t well:
I’ve recently developed a chronic illness that I’ll have to learn to deal with but that no one wants to talk about. So, when people ask, “How are you?” I assign myself a percentage point. “About 57 percent,” I’ll say. This gives people a chance to decide if they want to engage, or not.
Most often they’ll say, “Well, that’s not too bad.” or “I wish I was at 57 percent” so we have a little fun with it, but it’s fun for me too, because I have to be honest with myself about how I really feel. I’m a professional motivational speaker, so nobody wants to hear that I don’t feel good.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.