Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: At what point is it OK to forgive yourself for hiding a pregnancy from beloved family?
It is early on, and with the threat of miscarriage, my husband and I have decided to keep this news to ourselves. However, I can’t help but feel sneaky as I conceal this from family members by tossing glasses of wine in the bathroom. I’m worried there may be hard feelings when we are ready to share.
Superficial answer: You can forgive yourself immediately and for good. This is your and your husband’s news alone and you don’t need to tell anyone anything till you’re ready.
Next-layer-down answer: What’s with the drama? For one, that’s a rigid news embargo. I get the impulse to wait out the first trimester, since no one wants to go around issuing painful updates in the event of a miscarriage. But telling a few people is not unusual – the ones you’d lean on if you were to miscarry.
Also dramatic is the use of active deception (what did that innocent wine ever do to you?!), as is the jump from these otherwise-victimless fake-outs to … not forgiving yourself? Yikes. It’s all so much.
Maybe you’re just hormonal. Or maybe your family tends to drama, i.e., “hard feelings” vs. just sharing your joy.
Regardless: Please consider, in situations like this where your emotions are roiling, a reliance on the logic of simplicity: Given the various risks, is withholding your news easier than sharing it? And if so, is your method for withholding the news the easiest one, or are there milder options for remaining discreet?
Especially with a baby coming, I urge a realignment of your thinking toward maximized calm.
Starting here: If your family does wig out at your delayed notification, then that is SO not your problem. They have no entitlement to be told till you’re ready.
If you feel you always have to yell “Look over there!” just to buy yourself some privacy, then I suggest taking a closer look at the emotional boundaries (or lack thereof) learned in your childhood home.
Dear Carolyn: My parents are throwing a 50th anniversary party, and while they haven’t asked me to make a speech, I should have something thought-out to say. The thing is: I do see this milestone as an accomplishment, but I don’t actually admire their relationship.
So I’m looking for ways to say sincerely congrats, it isn’t easy, you guys made it work, without having to say that I wish I had what they have. Any thoughts?
You just did: “Congrats, it isn’t easy, you guys made it work,” and scene.
You can also list the good things you’ve taken away from their marriage. Such as:
(1) You! haha.
(2) Appreciation for the power of committing to someone.
(3) An understanding that marriage shifts and grows and changes in its own ways – and if anything, it’s the effort you put in that gets the last word.
Brainstorming your own list might even tweak the way you view your parents, an unexpected bonus.
And if you think of it more as a toast than a speech, then a little wit will get you out without saying too much.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.