While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On snooping • I've seen so many letters about reading a significant other's texts or emails. I've even read a few columns that suggested a cheater who has promised to reform should give their spouse or partner all their passwords. What never seems to come up is that you are also violating the privacy of everyone who writes to the person whose accounts are now open books. I've accepted there is a certain amount of slippage when it comes to things I tell friends in long-term relationships, but I find it offensive that someone who is dating a friend of mine and suspects her or him of cheating could easily access emails that are about deeply personal issues I'd rather not share with them.
On dealing with a loved one's engagement to an abusive mate • Seeing a loved one get involved with an abusive partner can be incredibly difficult, especially if you see the loved one ignore obvious and repeated warning signs. If they've been together a long time, his sense of reality might be even more skewed than he lets on. I speak from experience. I was engaged to a woman who was abusive and it took the continued efforts of friends and loved ones to see what I was too ashamed to recognize. A victim of abuse is going to need someone to keep his sense of reality and self, particularly when she really starts to sink her claws into him.
On deciding whether to have children • When I was a newlywed, my mom gave me this advice: "If you cannot imagine yourself having a happy future without, have a child. If you can in any way see yourself living happily without, do not." I did choose to become a mother three times of astonishingly wonderful persons. After 36 years of mothering, here's what I think: If I could have known how wonderful the good is, I would have started 10 years earlier and had twice as many. If I could have known how awful the bad is, I would not have had any.
Life is approximate
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.