While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On people who have nothing nice to say about others:
My mother was like that — she never said a nice thing if she had the opportunity to belittle someone in public (or to someone else). One day I had an insight and said, "Mom, you know when you talk like that it makes people sympathetic to Dad and they just think you're sort of a witch."
She went really silent ... and never did it again.
People who continually put someone down are doing that oftentimes to push themselves up. However, the long-term effect is usually the opposite of what they intend.
On 'available' women:
In a recent column, a husband had a crush on a woman the wife described as "pretty" and "available." "Available" to whom? To the married man? Does single status imply that a woman would make herself available to a married man? I, and my single friends, see it otherwise. None of us would consider ourselves "available" to any man who wasn't himself "available."
This wife's choice of words implies that she believes that men can more easily "have" single women on whom they have a crush than married ones. Certainly we have plenty of evidence that married men fall for the wives of other men; yet the wife who wrote you implies that she would have been more comfortable had the object of her husband's crush been married or otherwise "taken" — as if a married or "taken" woman is better positioned to resist him. Insulting.
Annoyed by Stereotypes