While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On marriage to a yeller: Sorry, I don’t buy the “that’s just the way I am” excuse when it comes to yelling or lots of other negative behavior. If I am doing something that makes my partner, the person I supposedly love above all others, cry, then I am doing something wrong.
What can I do to change that? I can inventory why I do it. A quick assessment might be that it comes down to fear. Not physical fear, but rather fear that I won’t get what I want (love, acceptance, validation, etc.), or fear that I won’t keep what I have.
Then I have to practice mindfulness. I have to stop myself, sometimes in mid-sentence, and say something like, “I’m sorry, I am yelling. I don’t want to do that and I am working on it. Let’s talk more in a little while.” Then I have to excuse myself and go calm down. After a few tries at this you will find yourself yelling less and less.
Your (or my) behavior is like an old tape, playing over and over. But when I play a new message over the tape long enough, the new message becomes the ONLY message. I was the dad/ husband who yelled … a lot (“It’s just how I AM!”), and now, I am not.
On repairing a marriage torn by infidelity: The non-offending spouse needs to take a very hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Did I contribute to my spouse straying from our marriage?”
Oftentimes we quit being romantic, we shut down, we take for granted our lives ... and leave our spouses alone physically and emotionally. A very dangerous way to leave your spouse is empty going out into the world each day.
A Dad in Boise
On having older parents: My mother was 35 and my father 51 when I was born. Age was an issue in that my dad died when I was 28, and mom lived another 22 years. Beyond that, though, I had the benefit of life experiences that went back to before World War I through landing on the moon — an incredibly rich upbringing. And they were thrilled I came along, an even greater layer to their parental love.
On being denied the truth about one’s parentage: At 18, people are no longer children and should be given access to ALL information regarding their identity. Failure to do so maintains them in a state of perpetual childhood and deprives them and their descendants of their civil rights to their heritage and ancestry.
Sure, parents make decisions about children to ostensibly protect them — but once we are of legal age, parental legal supremacy is over and we should be given the truth of our origins.
Judgments about those truths are ours. The circumstances of our conception and ancestry belong to us — the adults had their time and they made their decisions when we were too young to have our own voices. Secrets and lies have no place in healthy families, and withholding identity is a particularly heinous form of discrimination.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.