Tell Me About It: No guarantee your adult children will care about you
While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On being shocked by (or terrified of) the life changes that come with having kids:
Everyone having children needs to be realistic. Forget maintaining the level of intimacy and freedom you had with your spouse when you were childless and both working. Children get in the way of these things, and whether they are worth it or not depends on the individuals and a lot of circumstances that can't be foreseen.
At this point in my life, with my husband dying at a young age and our child being responsible and supportive, I'm really glad I have my child. But nothing guarantees that you end up with an adult son or daughter who truly likes and cares about you. I know many who wouldn't lift a finger, let alone be a friend, with one or both of their parents. And don't automatically think that what you give up now will be made up in the future. It might; it might not.
On forgiving a less-than-gushing tribute:
At our rehearsal dinner, my soon-to-be-mother-in-law made this toast:
"I have three other daughters-in-law and I have learned to love them. I'm sure I can learn to love B, too."
She never became my best friend, but I never mentioned it to anyone other than my husband, and we got along fine after.
On "venting" vs. bad-mouthing:
My husband and I have been married for 28 years. One thing we agreed on from the start was that each of us help the other to look good to the rest of the world. No bad-mouthing to Mom, no cheap shots at parties, no snarky jokes at the other's expense.
If an issue about your spouse is bothering you, talk it over - nonconfrontationally, when you both are calm and have time to discuss it rationally. If it isn't worth bringing it up with your spouse, it isn't worth bitching about to your friends.
This of course assumes that both of you are in the relationship to help each other and not just take from each other. Everybody has annoying habits; if you truly care about your partner, you figure out how to deal with (or ignore) the small stuff. If it's really big stuff, your friends aren't experts. Call a professional.
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.