While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On elderly relatives with burdensome TV habits
S.: My mother was hard of hearing and refused to use any accommodations beyond turning the volume of the TV up to almost unbearable levels. We just learned to live with it. Only much later, after she had passed away, did I have the perspective to realize how lonely she must have been when we were gone for the day, and how TV personalities had basically become "friends" to her.
I'd like to encourage families to have an open discussion about what may be underneath Grandma's TV issue. Is she lonely? Could she learn to use the computer and participate in chat rooms or research the family tree or look up old high school friends or watch videos (with earphones)? Would she like to join a church or book group or go to the senior center during the day? Is it possible for her to volunteer, even to sit and answer phones? Could she give the kids their spelling quizzes, read to them, teach them to crochet or latch-hook, do jigsaw puzzles or play hearts with them? Could she write letters or crochet/knit blankets for troops? Are there other family members nearby who could take her out to get her hair done or just for a ride? We humans are all social creatures.
On use of the B-word in anger
Annapolis: Coming from an abusive relationship/background, I say to use of the B-word: No way.
If I ever hear this word from a "lover," I am outta there. I heard this word several times before the two black eyes and cracked jaw.
There is no excuse for this word. Well, I guess you can say, "Cut out the bitchy comments," but "You are a B" is a prophecy that something bad will happen.
Any woman who hears someone who "loves" her call her the B-word is not going to enjoy a long, loving relationship. This person does not love or respect you. Go ahead, hang around. See you later in domestic violence court or worse, in the hospital. Like me.
B.: I have been married 45 years. I cannot imagine calling her "b----" or any similar insulting names for women. It is just impossible for me to think of her in such demeaning terms.
We have had our arguments (at times loud), but never have we ever used such personally insulting language. Something's wrong there . . . respect is missing.
On marrying someone despite an unsatisfying sex life
M.: I married "that guy" (who was reluctant or refused to be intimate) and it was a tremendous mistake. I ignored all the warning signs, and the problem only grew worse after we married. I spent the entire marriage trying to talk through the issue with my husband (he refused), blaming myself and begging for counseling.
After 4 1/2 years of marriage I was so vulnerable and needy that I kissed another man one night in a bar, something I never thought I'd do.
The next day, I left my husband. Ten years later I can say with absolute clarity that leaving him was the right thing to do. Those years of marriage were some of the saddest and loneliest of my life.