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Should I Marry My Cousin, And Other Advice Column Questions
GOOD QUESTION

· Updated:

There are too many excellent advice columns to keep up with, so we're committed to bringing you links to the best advice column questions and answers every week. Here's a roundup of the most interesting, thought-provoking and surprising questions that our favorite columnists (and subreddits) addressed in recent days.

Should I Marry My Cousin?

I am recently divorced after a 19-year marriage, and to my great shock, I already find myself in love with another man. I didn't come out of the marriage looking for anyone, nor did I think I'd ever marry again, but this man wants to marry me, and I'm seriously considering it.

Despite the societal taboo, it is legal in my state for first cousins to marry, and genetic issues with offspring aren't a concern. We're both sterile and have no ability (or desire) for more children. My siblings suspect and aren't pleased with the situation. His parents know and are happy for us.

We bonded when he contacted me to offer support after he heard about my divorce, and it was love at "second" sight. Why "second"? Because we grew up together — literally next door — and he's my first cousin.

Am I crazy to think I'm in love again this quickly? It doesn't feel too fast because we've always known each other and been close; it's just that the form of love has changed. How do we break it to the rest of the family? The world? People can be so judgmental, even though in many parts of the world it is perfectly normal to marry your cousin.

[UExpress]

Abigail Van Buren says that the letter writer doesn't seem crazy but may be in the middle a sort of post-divorce high. "If you are wise — and I hope you are — you will slow this romance down and allow enough time for your family to become accustomed to the changed circumstances of your relationship with your cousin," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

Am I A Jerk For Telling My Pregnant Wife She Needs To Stop Rubbing Her Belly So Much?

AITA for telling my wife that it makes me uncomfortable how much she rubs her pregnant belly?

I'm not sure why it bothers me so much. The only thing I've really been able to come up with is that maybe subconsciously I find it aggravating since it seems like a way to draw excessive amounts of attention to herself… I have also thought about it making me uncomfortable because it feels like the pregnancy is dominating our lives in ways I don't think it should. It seems like all she wants to talk about is the baby even though we still exist as individuals and the baby isn't even here.

Either way, it bothers me all the same especially since at this stage in her pregnancy she does it all the time. She does it around me and friends and family, which I do think is weird even though none of them have complained.

I get that it's about bonding, but I asked her to maybe not do it so much around me because it makes me uncomfortable. I got told I was controlling and unsupportive, but those are pretty outrageous claims considering how much support I have given her. Never once have I complained about anything until now, so what she said was extremely hurtful. She doesn't even see me that much during the week, so I don't understand how I am controlling…

Do my feelings and actions make me the asshole?

[Reddit via Twitter]

The commenters on the r/AmItheAsshole subreddit vote that the letter writer is, indeed, the asshole. "She's carrying a human life that is physically affecting her body," one of them writes. "If she wants to rub her belly for her comfort, you shut your mouth and let her." Read the rest of their answers.

Am I Infantilizing My Wife By Telling Her She's Too Young To Have A Baby?

My wife is 26 and says she's ready to have a baby, but I think she's too young and we should wait. I know on paper the timing looks right. We both have good, stable jobs and good health insurance and financially a baby is doable, but I think it is the wrong decision for other reasons.

I think my wife underestimates how much work and drudgery it's going to be and may someday look back and regret having kids so young and wish we'd waited a few more years. I'm 33 and couldn't imagine having kids when I was 26. It would have been awful since it would have meant the end of my leisure.

I say you have such a short time to be young and carefree and you have forever to be tied down — why rush it? We have plenty of time to have kids. We've only been married for two years, so there's nothing wrong, in my mind, with her enjoying the next couple of years carefree and then having a baby once she's closer to 30 and her friends have started settling down and starting families. Then she'll have company and won't feel so isolated.

She thinks that I am infantilizing her by assuming she misunderstands the difficulties and how much of a sacrifice it will require, but I don't see it that way. I just want her to enjoy this time we have when we're DINKs so that she doesn't have regrets later in life. I am only trying to look out for her best interests.

Am I wrong to believe she's making this decision without considering what she'd be giving up?

[The Washington Post]

Carolyn Hax rules that the letter writer is absolutely infantilizing his wife. "Until you can respect her as an equal — at least! — then this is not the environment I'd wish on a child," she writes. "Or your wife." Read the rest of her answer.

How Can My Family Go Back To Normal After My Wife Was In A 'Karen' Video?

My wife was in a very stressful situation about a month ago when she was at a park in our hometown. After trying to balance a full-time job while caring for our three children for four months, she honestly just kind of lost it. She snapped. My wife is now the subject of a "Karen" video that made the rounds last month in our town (luckily it didn't spread beyond that). She was, and still is, horrified by her behavior. She is seeking counseling for both the "snap" and the underlying thoughts and attitudes that came out in the video.

In the meantime, how do we get back our normal life? Many folks around town are understandably freezing us out, and some of my kids' friends' parents are refusing play dates. This is only adding to the loneliness and isolation our family had already been feeling because of the pandemic. I hate to see my kids suffering because of my wife's unconscionable actions. Short of moving to a new town, what can we do to rebuild the relationships that used to keep us grounded in this awful time?

[Slate]

Danny M. Lavery observes that the letter writer left out a lot of context that would help him give specific, meaningful advice. "You cannot demand that your friends rebuild relationships, and you cannot use your kids' loneliness to pressure others into forgiving their parents," he writes. "But you can ask the people you know and love, sincerely and nondefensively, what you can do to start to rebuild trust together." Read the rest of his answer.

Should I Go Out For Coffee With My Boss's Son Because My Boss Wants Us To Be Friends?

Over the summer, my manager suggested that I might get along with her son (which sounds possible, I've never met him) and gave me his phone number. I think she is proposing we be friends, not trying to set us up on a date, but I don't really want to be friends with my manager's son (too awkward). I told her I'd think about contacting him then figured I never would. I did say I was worried about the potential dynamics.

Now he's texted me. I really just am not interested but she's really gone to bat for me, there's maybe a promotion of sorts coming up that I'm interested in, my workplace is a weird incestuous environment (think fourth/fifth generation families working there) and I am afraid of possible repercussions of declining to hang out.

I tried saying I prefer to keep personal/professional lives separate (which he accepted) but another coworker is now involved and "encouraging" me to give it a chance. I'm thinking I'll just agree to coffee to say I tried?

[Ask A Manager]

Alison Green encourages the letter writer to stay strong and not give into the coworker's pressure. "You already told the son you'd rather keep your professional and personal life separate (which was a good response, and one that should make sense to your boss as well) and he accepted it," she writes. "This should be over!" Read the rest of her answer.

What Is Women's Monolithic Response To Stereotypical Female Behavior Portrayed In Movies And TV?

As a man, I have always been intrigued by how women's emotions and reactions differ from men's. I believe the psychologies of both sexes play equal roles in the wonderful dynamism that makes the world go 'round.

In the context of the women's movement that has been occurring over the last several decades, I often wonder how contemporary women respond to so-called stereotypical female behavior as often portrayed in movies and TV dramas.

When a woman bursts into tears, can't make up her mind, succumbs to a sweet-talking man, etc., does a contemporary woman say, "Come on, girl, buck up! Get a hold of yourself!" Or does she say, "Gee, I can see why she feels that way. I'd probably react the same way."

[Tribune Content Agency]

Amy Dickinson points out that women and men experience emotions along a spectrum. "It is important to remember that most earlier media was created by men, and so the distance between 'Alice' on 'The Honeymooners' and the female characters realized by Shonda Rhimes or Phoebe Waller-Bridge shows what a long way depictions of the female experience have come," she writes. Read the rest of her answer.

LV Anderson is the news editor at Grist and an advice column aficionado.

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