Her ex's character is causing a rift with new beau
Q: My girlfriend and I are at an impasse. Before we were together she had a yearlong relationship with a married man. She says she regrets it, but insists on defending him whenever the topic comes up. If anything, she seems bothered that I don't appreciate he was/is a good person.
I have made many mistakes myself . . . but have to say I am always very bothered to hear her defend this guy. She no longer talks to him but still refers to his having been a good friend. Last we heard from him, he'd called her drunk, looking to hook up. He's still married. It seems to me he's not such a wonderful guy. It seems to her that one flaw doesn't discount what a good person he is. Hoping to not sound holier-than-thou, I question what that says about her. Should I just let it go?
A: A yearlong affair with a married man is a huge, sustained lapse in judgment, and it's important that you figure out whether it's an example of her values or a rare departure from them. However, she might also have grounds for concern about you. It's a bad sign when a current partner asks you (openly or by implication) to trash ex-partners.
While an adulterous spouse is hard to defend, it's easy to defend the complexity of people and our emotional attachments to them. Maybe they shared a genuine friendship before they drove it into a wall; it might be to her credit that she's not bad-mouthing him just to satisfy you. Even if your girlfriend just sees her ex as having good points as well as bad, then she's right to refuse to disavow him entirely. You may see it as defending a bad man or a bad choice, but she might see it as standing up for herself.
One easy path to the answer is to make sure you're never the reason "the topic comes up." If that's the end of the discussion, then you'll have a good indication that her defenses are directly tied to your pressure. If instead she keeps talking about him, then that's just as reliable a sign that you're right to have doubts about her.
To try for kids now or later is asking the wrong question
Q: My husband and I have been married two years, we both have good jobs and live comfortably in a nice home. I am starting grad school in the fall. I've told my husband I'd like to get 12 credits under my belt before we have kids so I can keep the momentum going. I know he's really ready, he's made it very clear. I'm ready too, but my hesitation is twofold: I'm only 26, and I feel like it's a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses moment for him. Several of our friends and family are pregnant (none planned). I'm an overpreparer and my husband is my opposite. I guess I'm just looking for reassurance that we're ready — as ready as can be expected — and that his rush is based in his love for me and his desire to share parenthood with me.
A: Whether your husband's motives are good or pure is a profound question, one that has everything to do with trust — or lack of it, which seeps through the words in your letter. You say you overprepare and your husband is "my opposite." Would you say he underprepares? By any standards, or just by your hypercareful ones? The urgent need here isn't for a negotiated deal on when to start trying for a child. It's for you two to reconcile your differing approaches to life, so you both can come to — here it is again — trust each other.