Happy Hour


#squadgoals achieved (with a baby)

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Processed with VSCOcam with a8 preset

HEY Apw,

Hey guys, we’re at our big conference for the year in Salt Lake City. I wrote about how women centric Alt Summit is, and this year I brought my six month old baby, and a whole girl squad. (Eighteen year old cousin helping with the baby, Najva, Maddie, me, and baby girl are all having a wonderful time.)

So let’s kick it to happy hour, because I need to go get ready for our big talk (and get the babies two hairs cut by a friend who also does Paris and New York fashion week, I KNOW RIGHT). The tiniest squad member will crawl around the back of the conference room while we teach, and all will be well. You can follow along on the APW Instagram, my Instagram, and the #Altsummit tag, if you feel so moved.

Here’s your open thread, make it rain (comments). We’ll be back to business as usual next week.

xo

Meg

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • AGCourtney

    Sounds like a fantastic weekend, Meg – have fun!

    Well, I had a hell of a week: we were in a car accident on Monday evening. The car is totaled, but we’re all okay. A teenager who recently got her license didn’t see us coming the other way and turned left smack into our car. Our airbags went off and everything; my husband doesn’t even know how I managed to get the door open. My daughter and my father were in the backseat, and they’re fine. I initially thought I might have fractured my hand, but soon I was able to move it. It was utterly terrifying. I was completely freaked out and at the time, but I actually feel really bad for the other driver – from the start, she was already terrified and accepted responsibility for the whole thing, and then she heard my husband telling the 911 operator that I might have a fractured hand and he’d slammed his knees into the dash (he asked and she didn’t have any injuries), and THEN I pulled a sobbing little girl out of the car – I can’t even imagine how that felt. I later learned that when things were calming down, my husband went over and told her everything was okay and it could have happened to anyone. (I didn’t learn about this until afterward, as once my daughter had left the scene, I was bawling in our car myself.) She and her parents have been open about it, it’s all coming out of their liability insurance, (and the funny thing about small towns, we all have the same insurance agent), so given that it happened, things are proceeding as well as they could have. I think we’re all just glad everyone’s okay.

    I’ve only had my license since July, so I was blaming myself a little, that if I’d noticed I could have done something, but my husband pointed out that 1) even he didn’t see it coming and 2) if I’d swerved, she’d have still hit us, but towards the back of the car, where my daughter was. So I’m glad I got the brunt of it. My right hand hurt that night – I cringed to even use a computer mouse at work that evening – and I’ve had whiplash for a couple days, but I’m feeling much better today, I think.

    Anyway, the best/worst part of all this is that in our family (me, husband, our little girl, and my dad in the basement) we have two cars – my husband’s and my dad’s. (we’d been weighing the possibility of buying me a car and avoiding the gymnastics, but…) However, on Monday, my husband’s car was in the shop, we thought for a fairly simple fix, but that afternoon we learned the the root cause was actually the transmission – a $2,800 fix, not worth it. So, before I went to work, we took my dad’s car over to Culver’s and discussed the car situation over a quick dinner. We were heading home when this happened. So there went the other car! My husband’s car was still at the shop and I had to call a neighbor friend to come get my dad and daughter while we talked to the EMTs and the police and the towing company. So now we’re looking for two cars, yay~ We technically can swing this, but we’re touching savings that we realllllly didn’t want to touch. I mean, this certainly qualifies as an emergency, but it feels like starting over again.

    So yeah – that’s been my week, haha! Like I said, the most important thing is that everyone is okay, but it was terrifying and I’ve been running on empty for a couple days and have been a bit skittish about driving and even walking by cars since. But it’ll be okay.

    • Eenie

      I’m so glad you’re OK! Can you get a rental off your insurance for a little bit while you look? I had to share a car for two weeks and it really made me appreciate the one car per driver set up we’d been rocking before. As for the driving, it sounds like you did everything right. Give yourself from credit for being involved in your first accident and everyone walking away.

      • NotMarried!

        I second @weste0023:disqus’s suggestion that the insurance should give you a rental. One of our cars was hit (still tbd if totaled) two weeks ago tomorrow, and we’ve had a rental since the Monday after it happened. It may depend on the other girls’ policy, but its certainly worth asking for/about.

      • AP

        Yep, this happened to me a few years ago and insurance paid for a rental for 30 days. Definitely check into it!

      • AGCourtney

        Yeah, my dad has a rental right now.

    • another lady face

      (my husband is an insurance adjuster and deals with this sort of thing on a daily basis) Keep checking for injuries in everyone and your daughter for a few days. Something things don’t manifest until a few days later. If needed, go to the doctor for treatments so the insurance will cover it! Also, check to see what your or her insurance might pay for your car that was damaged. you might not have to pay for all of it out of your savings after all! Or, they may take the salvage money that they can get for your totaled car and use it to pay part of the claim, such as your deductible or part of a new car. Also, request that your insurance company pays for a new car seat! This is not required in all states, but it is highly recommended by the manufacturers that children’s car seats are replaced after being involved in any accident. In WI, they don’t require it, but when requested by the family, the insurance company will almost always pay to get a new car seat for the children. Good luck with everything!

      • AGCourtney

        Thanks for the tips! Yeah, we’re expecting a check for my dad’s car, that will cover about half of the cost for his replacement, but we’ll need to dip into savings for our car replacement. Thanks for the info about carseats!

    • Jess

      I’m am so glad that everyone involved is ok! Thank goodness for Hamilton.

    • Margret

      That all really sucks, and I’m really sorry. My husband and I ended up in a similarish situation a couple years ago and because of circumstances, had to buy a car pretty much immediately. He was bummed that it felt like starting back at square one after digging into our savings, but it helped when I framed it as, “Starting over at square one is better than digging a hole”–this is what the savings are there for, and I would rather end up back at zero than go negative because we had to take on new debt to deal with the situation. So, maybe a tiny bit of sunshine? Here’s hoping you got the worst of 2016 out of the way already!

      • another lady face

        and, you can always take any money that you get from the insurance and either pay off part of a newer car loan, or replenish your savings.

      • NotMarried!

        I love the way you framed that! “starting over at square one is better than digging a hole” – YES!

      • AGCourtney

        Ooh, I like framing it that way. Thank you, that’s a really helpful shift in thinking.

    • VKD_Vee

      Holy wholey! This story scared the crap out of me since I’m recently licensed myself, and still pretty terrified on the road. I’m SO sorry your family was in this situation, and that you’re having to deal with the financial fallout of now having to purchase TWO new vehicles. Still, very glad that everyone is safe and sound. I bet you can’t wait to put this week behind you!

    • Kayjayoh

      “It must be nice/It must be nice/To have Washington on your side.”

      Aaaawww.

      I was also in a car accident in December. I was driving, other driver came out into my lane from a driveway without looking. Very slow and no airbags deployed, but it screwed things up for us for almost a month, just in terms of the car being in the shop.

    • AGCourtney

      I’m just going to reply to myself – I left right away after posting to bring my daughter to school and have a mechanic look at the car my husband has been eyeing, and just returned driving our new car. My husband came over to the dealership for his lunch break and we decided to take the plunge. I’ve never bought a car before, and was very stressed and cried on my way back to the house to grab our checkbook. So, now we own an ’05 Buick LeSabre.

      I’m exhausted.

      (Also, it’s funny to come back to the page and see “137 new comments above.” Here goes the reading!)

      • AGCourtney

        Okay, and no sooner had I written that than my dad announced he’d found a van, so, one hour later, we now have two replacement vehicles. I think this is the most money we’ve ever spent in a day. x_x

        • Lisa

          So glad to hear you all are ok and that you’ve already (mostly) resolved this awful saga. It sounds like you all are making the best out of a usually terrible situation. (And I love the image of your daughter singing Hamilton in the backseat!)

        • Kara E

          Glad it’s turned out so well!

    • Kara E

      What a scary event to happen – and in the freezing cold too! But, I’m so glad you’re ok enough (get that whiplash checked out!) and you have emergency savings to help mitigate that, bravo you! So glad that everyone else was ok too. [FWIW, the tranny might be worth fixing in this scenario – may be worth taking it to a second shop to get a second bid and to also see if they can do a rebuild rather than brand new. 2800 is a lot for a repair, but at least it’s a car that you know all the problems. You can’t buy a new car for 3k! ].

      • AGCourtney

        Whiplash is pretty common after accidents, and I’m doing much better now. Nah, it’s definitely not worth fixing – even if it were in perfect condition we couldn’t sell the car for that, haha. We’ve sunk enough money into it; it’s the backup third car for in-town trips until it finally goes out. We bought a much better car for $3,500, and the family mechanic said it’s an excellent car, only a couple fixes to do in the next year to keep it running well.

  • Eenie

    Guys I got a job! And I negotiated for three weeks vacation! First time ever negotiating an offer and I got everything I asked for. Felt awesome, and I’m so excited to work for my boss!

    • Congrats!! Negotiating can be so hard, I’m so glad it worked out for you!

    • Not Sarah

      YAY! Congrats!!!

    • E.

      Congratulations!! And amazing job negotiating!

    • AP

      Awesome news!!

    • VKD_Vee

      Nice one, Eenie! And good for you for negotiating, because as we know young and female employees are the least likely people to do it! You RULE!

      • Eenie

        I know! This was my first time negotiating ever, and it was not that hard. I asked for what I’m worth. I think it really helped that I actually feel competent and prepared for the job – as opposed to trying to make all my experience sound relevant. I also had to talk myself off the cliff of accepting a different job with a 45 minute commute to downtown Atlanta.

        I’m so glad to hear your good job news too!!!!

        • VKD_Vee

          Thanks, pal! I was gearing up to have my first salary negotiation too, but the offer was at the very top of the scale they’d advertised so I’m a happy bunny.

          Oh, and I used to have an hour commute each way to work… It’s not the greatest thing but after a while you do get used to it and I’m sure it’ll be worth it! Congrats again, Eenie!

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    • KK

      Congrats! Can I ask how you went about negotiating for vacation time specifically? My husband is about to start a job search and keeping his 3 weeks vacation is definitely a top priority, but he’s only ever negotiated on salary/bonuses. I always figured it would be tough to negotiate vacation at least at larger companies with a set vacation policy because how would they implement it / does the hiring manager even have control over it? (Our experience with HR departments has been completely unimpressive) But I guess, it can never hurt to ask and if you don’t ask, you’ll never get it right?

      • Eenie

        I asked and they gave it to me! It was actually going to be harder to negotiate the salary but the first offer hit my mark for that. This is a smaller company, but i feel like it’s much easier to say: “I’ve worked for x number of years in my field and earned three weeks vacation.” It also helps if you already have three weeks vacation. I didn’t give a reason but if they came back with a no I would have explained that my fiance has three weeks vacation and my family lives a plane ride away and I really need the possibility of three weeks to start next year if this year isn’t possible. My dad has always had success in getting the same amount or more vacation while changing companies.

      • Carrie

        Vacation is part of your compensation package, just like salary. You can throw anything you want in negotiations, from reimbursement for courses to sending you to a conference to working from home twice a week. Think of it this way. If you make 50,000 per year, that extra week vacation will cost the company 1,000 perhaps a little more. A company would have to be truly horrendous or not really want you if they’ll instantly walk away over being 2% away from you in their offer.

        • Eenie

          Plus I feel like my job requirements don’t change if I have an extra week of vacation – I still have to do the same amount of stuff (this would depend on the job, but my particular job is like this). I think the one time this would be hard to negotiate is if you are fresh out of college. It’s standard in most industries to only give two weeks of vacation. But that’s not to say you couldn’t try!

      • Kara E

        At larger companies (like ones with a fixed benefit package), it will be tough to negotiate for more vacation. However, it’s worth asking. And if they say no, maybe they say yes to something else (like a moving bonus or higher pay).

      • MDBethann

        My sister went to a BIG publishing company that only gives 2 weeks of vacation, but at her prior job, she had 4. She told them that she needed at least 3 weeks (she might have tried for the 4, not sure) and she got it (and kept the email as proof that she’s entitled to a 3rd week of vacation). And Eenie is right – give reasons if necessary, the primary one being that he already has 3 weeks and wants to keep it, especially if there are “hardships” like family lives far away.

    • Rachel

      Woo hoo!!! Congrats!! :)

    • raccooncity

      YESSSSSS

    • Lisa

      Congratulations on the shiny new job!!! That’s a great feeling, and good work on the negotiations!

    • MDBethann

      I concur on the negotiating! My sister did that for her current job (got
      herself an extra week of vacation!) and is going to do that today for a
      new job. Even if it doesn’t quite work out the way she hopes it will,
      she at least has the wherewithall (and so apparently do you, Eenie) to
      know your value and how to get what you feel you are worth, even if it
      isn’t always in $$. Time is $$ and if you can’t get a higher salary,
      always go for more vacation time.

      • Eenie

        Since I started working and learned their vacation policy, I’m very happy I negotiated. It would have taken me six years to earn that extra week!

  • Not Sarah

    I’ve only recently grown long hair and I’m realizing that the outer layers of my hair are clean looking, but the under layers are not. It is driving me nuts and I’ve tried several different ways of shampooing/conditioning my hair to try to fix it to no avail. Does anyone here with long hair know the mystery behind this??? THANK YOU!

    • Eenie

      Try a clarifying shampoo or a filter for your shower head. I’ll get buildups from hard water or cheap shampoo/conditiiner. You could just try a different brand – get a travel size and see if that makes a difference, sometimes your body chemistry changes and the same hair care products no longer work the same.

      • Not Sarah

        Thanks! I do think it might be time to try a new shampoo. I bought a huge supply last year and don’t want to let it go to waste :/ So I’m torn and half trying to just live with it for a bit until I’ve used down this supply more. I’ve been using Aveda Scalp Benefits, but from reading online, I don’t think it’s really the right shampoo for me anymore.

        • Eenie

          Yeah I hate changing shampoos. The clarifying shampoo may be the one to try if the other suggestions above don’t help. Otherwise I’d see if you can get some samples from your hair salon. Typically you just have to ask.

    • Jess

      I separately wash the top of my head and the back of my head. As in, I split apart my shampoo blob (or do two small hits), smear one half over the top of my hair and let that chill, take the other half and scrub underneath my hair from the nape of my neck up and over my ears – to just clean the under part until it’s all foamy and squeaky, then go back and hit the top layers.

      Essentially, I found that if I didn’t target the under layers specifically, the shampoo never quite got in there enough and it would look stringy and gross.

      And… I’ve never described how I wash my hair in such detail. That was weird.

      • Not Sarah

        I think I’m not hitting the nape of my neck and my ears area very well with the shampoo! Thank you for describing it in such detail!

        • Jess

          I have pretty oily hair (bless those girls that can use dry shampoo, but I am not one of them!), so this is the only way it ever feels clean.

          • Not Sarah

            My hair is oily and dry and somehow dry shampoo does seem to work for me. (so long as I don’t play with it too much…)

      • E.

        That’s what I do too!

        • Jess

          Thank goodness! I felt like it was a super weird thing to do when I was typing that out. Like I was going to get a billion comments “What are you doing!? This is totally not how to wash your hair!! You’ll go bald in three months!”

          • E.

            I had never thought about it in so much detail, but as I was reading your comment I was thinking “yep, that’s exactly it”

      • Not Sarah

        Now that I think about it, when my hair was shorter, I would get the nape of my neck with the shampoo just by nature of the length of my hair. It’s now past my chest in length and it is SO much harder to get the nape of my neck with my hair being wet and heavy.

        • Jess

          HA! YES. That’s exactly it. There’s just a big old curtain in the way of the shampoo so it just runs down that instead of getting into the roots.

          • Not Sarah

            Yeah maybe I will try shampooing the nape of my neck first by turning my head upside down so the hair is hanging down over my head the opposite way. Maybe that’ll help! Thanks again. It felt like such a ridiculous question!

          • I wash mine the exact same way as Jess and you don’t even need to flip your head over usually (because that sounds messy). Just working up from the nape should separate the hair enough to get a good lather and rinse.

          • Jess

            Yup, I just bring my hand underneath the “curtain” and scrub away.

          • Not Sarah

            Excellent, thank you!

    • Meg

      sounds silly but make sure you’re doing the whole lather rinse repeat thing, really working the roots when shampooing. Also when conditioning use a wide tooth comb to work through snarls

      • Not Sarah

        My guess is one root cause is that I’m not working the roots on the bottom of my head very well, but fine around my forehead.

    • another lady face

      you could try using apple cider vinegar to wash it for a few days – people swear by that! you could try using a pick or hair comb to get the shampoo through your hair in the shower before you wash it out. you also try using a dry shampoo powder on the underside roots of your hair to make it look or feel cleaner – I love that stuff and it helps freshen up the hair and give it more body/take away the oils! try just putting the conditioner on the parts of your hair that seem dry or brittle (like the ends of your hair).

      • Worker Bee

        I’ve tried dry shampoo in the past and love the concept but the ones I’ve tried (can’t remember the brands) had such a strong smell I couldn’t stomach them. Does anyone know of a dry shampoo that works well and is unscented or at least on the milder side?

        • another lady

          I got one from the salon that doesn’t have a smell. I had the stylist use it and liked it, so I went back and got some. The salons are a little more forgiving with letting your open/use the products before buying.

        • NotMarried!

          I love Dove Dry Shampoo.

        • another lady

          I have also heard that you can use baby powder in place of dry shampoo, and that usually doesn’t smell much or has a soft ‘powdery’ sent.

          • Kayla

            You can also use cornstarch! It has no smell at all. But I can only keep it from making my hair white if I apply a tiny amount with a big makeup brush like a blush brush.

          • I just put it in my hair at night and the whiteness is usually gone my morning when I wake up

        • Meg

          Batiste is my favorite, they have a few different scents too so if you don’t like one, you can try a different one. I also find the smell of others to be overpowering.

          • ML

            I love Batiste too. The Original scent is not overpowering in my opinion. But if you are averse to strong smells avoid the “Wild” scent. It is driving me crazy, but I don’t want to throw it away!

        • Kayla

          I use Klorane. The Batiste ones (and every other one I’ve ever tried) are way too perfumey for me.

          It’s on the pricey side, but if you get the non-aerosol one it lasts forever.

        • cornstarch

        • SLG

          I use Oribe texturizing spray and I LOVE it — absorbs oils, provides some texture, but never looks like white powder or some weird texture in my hair. It does have a slight scent, but in my experience it’s not overpowering. (I have fine hair, in case that context helps.)

    • You may already be doing this, but I found that focusing my shampooing and conditioning on different areas helped me with my roots looking dirty/greasy by end of day. When I shampoo I focus on really getting everything up next to my scalp, and don’t worry about the rest. It gets shampooed from runoff, but I don’t put any effort into it. Then I do the exact opposite with conditioner, focusing on all the hair several inches out from my scalp. Kind of like if my hair was in a ponytail, I’d only be conditioning the tail part.

    • raccooncity

      SAME HERE. I have no answer but want to know as well.

      • Not Sarah

        Well lucky for you, I got a ton of responses! Who knew how much discussion could ensue about the details of hair shampooing.

    • CutePants

      long-haired lady chiming in to say i experience the same problem. i can wash it in the evening and it will be greasy the next day. i usually handle it by washing with a clarifying shampoo once a week or so (neutrogena anti-residue), just to get it super clean and i try to make sure to get all of the conditioner out of the bottom. for me, it’s the conditioner that really weighs it down and makes it yucky if i don’t wash out 90% of it.

  • Anon for this

    Help! I think I might be flirting unintentionally when I’m just trying to be friendly. I’m a little socially awkward and anxious around new people, but meeting a lot of new people right now through a new job and in trying to make some new friends. I’ve noticed that a) I get nervous and tend to get more silly/playful when nervous and maybe make too much eye contact and b) the people I end up talking to most and getting along with best are men. I’ve gotten asked out once and had a couple other guys that I thought might be reading into our interactions, so now I intentionally mention my husband in conversation. How do I know if I’m flirting? Is it flirting if I don’t have any romantic interest? Help an awkward girl out!

    • anon

      Maybe I’m not understanding – are you getting a lot of unwanted attention and when you turn guys down they blame it on your “flirting”? Unfortunately I think a lot of guys take any attention the wrong way, but I don’t think that’s necessarily your fault. I would say to keep bringing up your husband in a natural way, but I would also encourage you to maybe try to make some friends with women too!

      • Anon for this

        No, they don’t blame it on flirting, and no one has said I’m flirting. I guess it’s more that I’ve been trying to make friends, but all I’m succeeding in is talking to men who I think may be perceiving me as interested in them. I’m trying to make friends with women too, but haven’t had any luck and my attempted conversations with women are way shorter and don’t connect as well. So I’m wondering if my approach to new people is reading as flirting to everyone, such that [hetero] women are not interested and [hetero] men are like ‘heeeyyyyyy she’s into me’.

        • VKD_Vee

          I doubt this is the case. I think it’s much more likely that many men will take any opportunity to assume women are flirting with them. (Ugh.)

    • K.

      Fellow awkward gal here–likely once more awkward than you are, based on some low self-esteem stuff. Anyway, not sure if this is helpful or applicable or relevant, but I used to have the same issue and used to think that I naturally got along better with men.

      But what I realized was that men were more likely to be OVERfriendly to me because they very often assumed I was flirting, where women were more base-line friendly (i.e., polite but not particularly fascinated by me or giving me any special attention). Due to awkwardness/low self-esteem stuff, I read the over-friendliness/attraction as the base-line. I.e., I only felt comfortable if someone actively and demonstratively showed me that they liked me, which typically ended up being men who were attracted to me. And without parsing this out, I would automatically assume the women (and men who weren’t interested in flirting) didn’t like me, which in retrospect wasn’t fair because I myself don’t go overboard with happiness every time I meet someone who is cool or nice.

      So eventually making that mental shift of not needing someone to be *extremely demonstrative* with their interest or approval when I first meet them was really the key for avoiding awkward/inappropriate/unwelcome conversations down the line. Obviously, these guys shouldn’t be assuming that you’re interested in them just because you’re being friendly either! And I know that it’s a lot easier to move forward with friendship with people who indicate strongly that they’re interested in friendship (BELIEVE ME, I get that). So not sure if this helps, but maybe rings a bell? If not, apologies for writing so much! :)

      • Anon for this

        YESSSS. This. This is it. Thank you! Along these lines, the guy that asked me out (and I declined because: married) doesn’t talk to me nearly as much now and I was really bummed about that, because he was the one that I got along with the best and I was hoping to be friends. But reading your response, the initial level of attention/interest he was giving me was the overnice, ‘I want to date you’ level of attention, and what I have now is the baseline. Which is to be expected. This makes so much sense.

        • Amy March

          Ok, do you wear wedding rings? Assuming you’re in the US, a man you meet at work who asks you out even though you are wearing a wedding band is not a nice guy and is not going to be a good friend.

          Fixing the nervous energy is hard, but make a point of mentioning your husband in an initial social conversation with a man and frequently thereafter. It’s awkward and overkill and shouldn’t be necessary, but might help you weed out the guys who just want to date you quicker.

          • Anon for this

            I do wear rings. The man was from a Meetup group, not work, and when I said I was married he seemed really embarrassed and babbled about how he should do a better job checking for rings. (Which he definitely should, but at least I don’t think it’s a case of knowing I was married and hitting on me anyway.)

            I think you’re right that the best preventative measure is mentioning my husband often. With that and re-calibrating the level of interest I should expect from people, à la K’s response, I think avoiding unwanted romantic interest will be much easier. But it brings up a related problem of how do I connect and make friends with women, and men who aren’t romantically interested? I know that’s a huge issue not solvable in one APW happy hour but I’m open to any advice people have…

  • Has anyone had any luck changing their name at the SS office to something that wasn’t what they put on their marriage license? California has you list the name that you want to change to after the wedding (in addition to your given name), and I had put down my husbands last name (in a panic because I hadn’t realized that I needed to make the decision then and there) , but upon reconsideration I’d like to hyphenate instead. If I need to go through court to get a name change I may just not bother…

    • eating words

      My wife just changed her name, and she had no problems even though she put her birth name on the marriage license and then decided to take my last name. At least with the person she saw at the Social Security office, having a marriage license basically meant friendly conversation and a simple name change, woot.

    • another lady face

      It depends on your state – in WI, they are really cool about it. The lady at the marriage license office actually told me that you can write whatever you want on the marriage certificate, then get your name changed to whatever you want, as long as you have the marriage certificate and that is your ‘reason’ for changing your name. But, not sure how California works.

    • My name on my California marriage certificate does not match my name on my SS certificate. Although I did get the SS certificate in IL. Although, mine was because there is a character limit on middle names at the SSA. So my plan to have my name be First/Middle Oldlast/Hislast ended up being First/Middle/Oldlast Hislast. The people at the office were willing to let me go through a variety of things there, ranging from just initials to hyphen to space or whatever. So my bet is that as long as it is a variety of changes that make sense from your names combining, they will be cool with it. (And if they aren’t, you can always try coming back a second time? I panicked when it wouldn’t work the first time and the lady wasn’t very helpful so I ended up coming back a second time with a better plan and also the SSA person was much more helpful that time.)

      • Thanks that’s good to hear. We got married in CA but live in WA and everyone I talked to said “Why would you put your married name on there? it should be your given name”. I guess a lot of state’s licenses don’t ask the way the ones in CA do.

        • I also am a fan of how California leaves spaces for given name and married name for both spouses.

          • Yes! Our original plan was for me to change my last name to a second middle and take his last with him also taking my last as a second middle. I discovered after the wedding however that he wouldn’t be able to add mine to his at SSA because Hisfirst Hismiddle Mylast have too many letters to fit on one line :(

          • That was exactly my problem (except reverse!) I’ve never met anyone with the same problem as that!

  • Anon for this

    Hi APW community, I have a question about how to talk to my husband and my husband’s family about my MIL’s living situation.

    Background: I am 30, my husband a handful of years older; we have been married 2yrs, together 9. We live in a ~580sq ft apartment in an expensive city. He works a sales job he doesn’t love and mostly supports us while I am finishing my advanced degree – on track to graduate by the end of this year. On the horizon, we expect to relocate for my career and have been saving as aggressively as we can to make that happen (i.e. so we have a downpayment ready when we move). In our division of labour, I do most of the financial management. We have no kids, but are open to doing it once I complete my degree.

    Situation: My MIL lives in a smaller city ~2hrs away. My FIL died about 5 years ago, and at first she stayed on in their family home. She eventually put it on the market, but it did not sell and was foreclosed upon. About 2 years ago, she moved in with my husband’s oldest sister, who lives nearby and had space since one of her college-aged children moved out. Now, said sister is selling the house and wants MIL out. There are 3 other siblings all of whom are older and most established than us (i.e. have their own houses/kids/etc)… yet, after corresponding with those other siblings (and leaving my husband out of the conversation), the sister has texted to tell us this is our responsibility (i.e. to have MIL move in with us).

    I just feel so overwhelmed and angry. Firstly because of the shitty communication between the family, and the fact that my husband is kept in the dark and then dumped on. Second, because we live in a railroad apartment, and the bedroom where my MIL would ostensibly stay is a 9×9 room that you have to walk through to get to our bedroom. (This room is currently my office, and while my computer and books can be moved, I have a hard time seeing how walking through her space all the time would be a viable arrangement). Finally, I feel upset that my husband is taking this as the only solution and I don’t know how to talk to him about how terrible an idea I think it is without sounding like a shit.

    TL;DR – How can I talk to my in-laws and my husband about living arrangements? How can I ask the questions I need to ask (about medical issues, money) without sounding like I’m prying? I realize my questions are overstepping my bounds as not actually a ‘real’ family member, but if this is something that is going to hugely affect my baby family with my husband I feel we deserve information and a voice.

    Sorry for the novel.

    • Amy March

      WHAT?!? No. No no no. You are not over stepping any boundaries at all. You do not just take in your MIL because your sister-in-law texted you and told you so. You don’t just deserve information and a voice, you deserve absolute veto power because it is your home.

      How about starting with “I am so upset I am shaking that you are just assuming that your mother is moving into our home without even talking to me about it. This is a complete violation of the vows we made and unacceptable to me. I think this is a terrible plan. We don’t even have a private space for her. So I have two problems here: 1) in this marriage, for me, we discuss these issues as a team; and 2) this is a terrible idea and I am not at all okay about it.”

      It’s not “prying” or “overstepping” when they are informing you that your MIL is moving in without your consent. It is standing up for yourself and your marriage and it is 100% ok. Anyone who tries to make you feel bad about having a voice in your own life is someone you do not need to be listening to.

      • Anon for this

        Thank you Amy March for your really clear 2 pt defense.

        I know my husband has an overdeveloped sense of duty, and so I know this is coming from an emotional rather than a logical space for him. Since we haven’t even gotten to talk it over yet, I will def. use your lines to put my foot down.

        Any suggestion for helping with the emotional territory: How to reassure someone who feels its your duty to give away all until you have nothing left that that is actually not the case? (Other than those words, I guess…)

        • Violet

          “Husband, your mom needs sustainable support. Even if we emptied our bank account to take care of her, all that would happen is then we’d all be broke.”
          This is a “put on your own oxygen before helping someone else” kind of thing. He can’t help her if he’s broke. Here’s something from Jenn Dziura, similar kind of situation (but not really): http://www.getbullish.com/2013/02/bullish-what-do-you-really-owe-your-family-also-solving-problems-without-sacrificing-yourself/

        • Jess

          those words are pretty good. “I know you feel like you have to give everything until you have nothing. This is not actually the case.”

        • emilyg25

          For the emotional territory part, I really think a skilled marriage counselor can help. That’s a significant difference in values.

        • Les

          No advice, just commiseration. My guy is generous and dutiful as well. Just know that it’s okay if he gets upset. That doesn’t invalidate your opinion, or make it unreasonable. The great thing about generous and dutiful people is that that commitment isn’t just reserved for their blood family- they feel it for their partners and friends, too. You guys can do this!

      • Second this, it’s not prying to get information about what will be happening in your own living space, regardless of whether it’s ‘real’ family or not.

      • Emily

        Yes.

        (I’m really looking forward to the day when there is a “Real talk with Amy March” feature!

    • Mrrpaderp

      You don’t communicate with your in-laws about this, your husband does. You communicate with your husband. “We are not taking in your mother. We do not have a private space for her and we cannot afford to support a third adult on one salary.”

      Take a look at your budget and see what you can afford to contribute toward MIL’s support. If you are able to save for a down payment, you are able to help at least a little bit so that one sibling isn’t shouldering the entire burden of helping MIL. It’s also something of a peace offering to the family – “We cannot take her in, but we will do everything we can to make this less of a burden on whomever does end up taking her in.”

    • NotMarried!

      I’m going to assume your husband is say 35ish. Which makes his mother probably somewhere in the range of her 50’s-60’s. Short of some kind of outlier medical situation, why is her housing anyone’s responsibility besides her own?

      Second – If you are a “real” enough family member to be expected to house her, you’re a real enough family member to be respected with communication and the sharing of information. As my screenname on here suggests, i’m not married, but have been fully involved in discussions of “what-if” and how we might take care my partners mother if ever needed. Because if she ever moved in with him, guess who would be taking on parts of that responsibility – me. I’m family. Maybe not by blood, or legally, but i’m family.

      • Anon for this

        Well, he was the baby of a large family, so she’s 70 now.

        My biggest suspicion is that there are indeed medical issues that we are not being told about, which is why I am so put off by this whole affair and how its being conduct.

        Thank you for your strong words in favour of my right to communication and information.

        • NotMarried!

          Ah, that’s where we get with assumptions :) I imagine there are medical issues – in which case … you have every right to information. Best wishes as you continue to work this out with your husband.

    • Jess

      I have no advice, but want to tell you this: as the people currently inhabiting the space that she would be living in, BOTH you and your husband 100% absolutely get to have a voice and as much information as you need.

    • another lady face

      put foot down – just say no! why does it logically fall on you guys? (the ones in a small city apartment, going to school, potentially moving in a year, etc.) Do the siblings know these things about your living situation and future plans? Do they really want mom living in a 9×9 room in a 580sqft apt in a city she isn’t familiar with? does mom actually want this? Or, is it just brother/husbands turn to ‘step it up’ and ‘take care of mom’? Since they have been communicating with you, try sitting down with the siblings, or having frank phone conversations with them (NOT TEXT or email!) to explain the real situation and how mom would be living at your place. Maybe they will change their tune after that! if not, put foot down again!

      • Anon for this

        Yes I think this is a question of turn-taking, and perhaps some not listening. I have spoken with multiple family members about the wide geographic job search I am undertaking. I think that its time to paint the picture for the way you just did. It’s very compelling.

        I agree that real conversation is best. It has already been one of my frustrations that my inlaws are so difficult to get on the phone/ conduct things through Facebook etc, which we don’t use.

      • A.

        “Does mom actually want this?” = THIS! It doesn’t sound like a great situation for her either. Does she realize what her living situation would be? That she’d have no real space of her own or privacy?

        On the one hand, I could definitely see *my* MIL insisting that it’s the SON’s duty to take care of his mother, but in our situation 1) we’re the more established, settled couple and 2) his older sister is babied beyond belief, so my objections would be more about the principle. But on the other, I don’t think she’d be clamoring to live with us if we couldn’t comfortably set her up or if we’d end up moving shortly after she settled in, with or without her.

    • Lisa

      Totally on-board with what everyone else said here about not needing to take on anything (or anyone) else while you two are in such limbo. Just wanted to throw out: would it be possible for her to move into a retirement or assisted living facility somewhere near her hometown? Perhaps all of the siblings could pitch in a little to help pay her expenses, and the retirement community would be able to support her in her medical issues and give her a group of friends her own age so she doesn’t have to rely solely on her children.

  • Ravenclawed

    Cheers for Friday! Hoping APW commenters will come through with some wise wisdom:

    I’m currently struggling with how to handle an engagement ring. Partner and I had a good conversation last weekend about timeline for getting engaged and married, and apparently he’s already been looking at rings. I, on the other hand, very much dislike rings.
    My aversion to them is probably 1/3 functionality (simply don’t like wearing one, whether they are worth $5 or $5K); 1/3 ethical (diamonds and other precious gems with environmental and human rights issues); 1/3 feminist (dislike the historical background of essentially being a down payment/insurance policy on a piece of female property).
    However, my partner feels very strongly about wanting to give me one. He’s alleviated a couple of my concerns, in that he’s willing to wear an engagement ring as well, and wants to incorporate some diamonds from his mother’s ring, but I still have pretty significant reservations about the whole thing.

    Any suggestions about how to work through this?

    • Lulu

      Has he articulated why he feels so strongly? My husband felt a lot of pressure from friends, family, and society to give me one against my wishes, and it took a lot of assurances from me to make him comfortable, but it was kind of like he just needed time to absorb a different way of doing things. We both got watches, and it suited us perfectly.

    • Ashlah

      Not to convince you to wear a ring if you really don’t want to, but if you truly are open to it, just know that you’ll get used to wearing it. I never, ever wore rings before our engagement, but now I feel weird without them. If you do get a ring, I would go with something that doesn’t protrude. I have a solitaire that sticks out, and it can certainly be annoying at times. How do you feel about using the diamonds from his mother’s ring? If you’re not sold on it, I think it would also be a fair compromise to tell him you want a plain band with no stones.

      • VKD_Vee

        So second this advice. My engagement ring didn’t have any stones “protruding” from the band so I really did forget about it once it was on my hand for a while…

        That being said, if you’re a person who hates wearing rings than I kinda think that’s fair enough and you should be able to skip it. As for the “downpayment” feeling, would your husband to be wear an engagement ring in solidarity with you? (and so that the world knows you’ve locked in your downpayment as well!)

      • Eenie

        Emerald cut gemstone! I have an emerald sapphire and its really low profile. I got used to wearing it immediately. I’m otherwise not a ring person, and it came with the caveat of I’m not required to wear it, I can wear it when I want to. But I found that I really really really like wearing it, even though I never ever wore a ring before.

    • honeycomehome

      He’s working with you to alleviate 2/3 of the problem (ethical/feminist). If you want to relieve the other 1/3, you could get a cheap ring and practice wearing it around the house, just to get used to the feel. It might help if you are already somewhat used to it before he gives you the engagement ring.

      But, if even after he’s addressed your concerns you still don’t really like wearing it… talk to him. Maybe it’s something he gives you because it’s important for him to do that, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear it daily. Maybe you agree to wear it to important events/when getting dressed up/on the weekends? Maybe he could get you a necklace that is similar to the ring, which you can wear more often? There is a lot of middle ground you can explore.

      This isn’t just a one-time action. The ring will be with you forever, so it’s something can be revisited and adjusted throughout your lives.

      • Chris

        I had similar concerns, for similar reasons (especially the I-just-don’t-like-rings part). I wore the engagement ring (with a rock on it) he got me most of the time while we were engaged, and once we got married, I switched to the just plain old wedding band that I picked. 5 years later, I put the engagement ring on for ‘fancy occasions’ because he likes when I wear it, but I don’t have to wear it all day every day for him to feel like I still value it’s symbolic role.

        Course, if even a plain wedding band is too much ring for you, then maybe you two could talk about fancy non-ring symbols that you would like to wear, and would give him the sense of occasion that it sounds like he’s looking for. (A watch? A bracelet or necklace?)

    • Alice

      In terms of not liking to wear rings, I’m not able to wear anything too fancy for vet work, and I’m also fussy about how things feel. I would say to make it a priority to get a ring that feels comfortable, as well as one you like the look of. We got our wedding bands from Ash Hilton, who are an APW sponsor, and I have never worn such a comfortable ring, I actually forget about it, sometimes for days. They also do low-profile engagement rings and do beautiful custom designs (in loads of metals, from $250 to waaaaaaay more), are a pleasure to work with, and ethically source all their materials.

  • Anon for this

    Can we talk about getting your partner to go to therapy? Not couples therapy, but individual therapy. My husband struggles with (undiagnosed) anxiety/depression. I’ve been suggesting therapy to my husband for a few years now, and I struggle with how much pressure I’m “allowed” to put on him. He self-medicates with marijuana, which has been The Problem in our relationship (I like weed in moderation, but it makes me feel separate from him, like he’s detached from me and our relationship when he’s high. I don’t feel cared for. It’s not a viable solution, and has been contentious for a long time.)

    He’s extremely wary of psychologists. He’s petrified of being put on medication (which I’ve told him he doesn’t have to do) and doesn’t seem to understand what a therapist really does (he keeps thinking about Freudian style therapy, even though I’ve tried to explain the concept of CBT). He briefly saw a therapist as a child for an admittedly silly reason, and says he lied to them, and feels like he’ll still lie (or at least not be fully open) now. He has co-workers in therapy “and they’re still depressed.” He dumps negativity on me all the time. I want him to be able to talk to me, and I do what I can to support him, but I cannot be his therapist. He doesn’t understand that, and it hurts his feelings when I try to explain it.

    We’re planning to try to get pregnant towards the end of this year. It’s really important to me that we have this figured out, or that we’re at least on a path forward, before we’re also dealing with the stress of a newborn. When we have come-to-Jesus talks about this, he says he’s on board, even while sharing his concerns, but he never takes any action to actually find a therapist.

    I’m just…what do I do? I understand his concerns (it’s hard to open up to a stranger about your inner workings!), but how can I gingerly tell him to do it anyway? (Or can I?)

    • anxious

      Honestly, if he’s said he’s on board but just isn’t initializing, maybe do the footwork and make him an appointment. It’s not really fair, but neither is your current situation, and at least this unfair work has the possibility of getting him better. I struggle with anxiety a lot and haven’t managed to get myself into Therapy either, for some reasons similar (what if the therapist thinks I’m crazy what if they think I’m making it up etc etc) and some different (the idea of coldcalling around to medical offices PLUS dealing with what insurance does PLUS scheduling oh god).
      Definitely don’t have a kid until this is handled, though.

      • As someone with anxiety problems who gets totally paralyzed with making medical appointments as well, I second this.

        One thing my husband & I have done for each other (with a few different types of medical care) is to make lists of 3-5 practitioners who might be good for the other person to help give some structure, and help with the scheduling/making the app if needed.

        Adulting fail, or adulting life-hack, you decide ;p

        • another lady face

          I second this – I have recently stated making the medical type appointments for my husband. (I feel like a total old married lady because I do it!) He needs to go, he recognizes this and talks about it, but just never actually calls and makes the appointments! IT DRIVES ME NUTS! Also, I am the one with the less stressful job, so I have time to call during the day time hours. So, I’ll ask him when he is available or when are some good times, then make the appointments and he will actually go and make follow-up appointments at the office, etc. So, maybe suggest this approach and see if he follows through on going to the appointment(s).

      • Anon for this

        I have thought about this. I would need him to at least take the initiative to send me his insurance information, but perhaps I do need to kind of force his hand a bit as far as actually finding someone. I’ll talk to him about whether that would help. It’d be kind of weird for us, as we both think relying on your partner to do things for you (especially in typically gendered ways) is ridiculous in general, but when it comes to mental health issues, we may need to re-think things. If it’s his anxiety that’s making it hard to move forward, I am more than happy to help him.

        • anxious

          For what it’s worth, if somebody presented me with a scheduled appointment that was all set up and taken care of, I’d be pretty embarrassed but not so secretly relieved.

        • Amy March

          Hmmm. I think relying on your partner to do things for you when you can’t do them for yourself is a key part of the whole point of being in a partnership. It sounds like right now his mental health and drug dependence make him unable to be a reliable partner for you, and this is a step you can take to fix it. Not ridiculous at all to me!

          • Eenie

            Yeah, both my partner and I rely on each other to call bullshit on the other person with health issues. Neither of us makes very good decisions for ourselves but makes great decisions for the other person.

        • emilyg25

          I think you need to rethink that in bigger than mental health ways, for the reason Amy March said. It’d be one thing if one of you always did everything for the other, but helping each other out is part of being married! But especially so when it comes to being depressed. When you’re depressed, it’s kind of like you’re stuck in molasses and doing things, especially new things or scary things, is really really hard. Give him a hand.

          • Anon for this

            Oh, absolutely! I didn’t mean to suggest that we don’t help each other or do things for each other. I meant more like…it’s the husband’s job to get the oil changed in his wife’s car because that’s what men do. It’s the wife’s job to mail her husband’s Christmas cards because that’s what women do. That sort of thing. It comes up a lot here in terms of the emotional labor women are expected to take on, and that’s what I was thinking of. Absolutely if one of us struggles with one thing and the other is better suited, we roll with it and take care of it.

          • another lady face

            (probably going to get flack for this…) put the patriarchy aside for a minute and do what your husband needs for him (and your marriage) to be successful in this situation! As you said,”Absolutely if one of us struggles with one thing and the other is better suited, we roll with it and take care of it.” So, go ahead and talk to him about it and then help him out by taking care of it! Maybe give an ultimatum with an out- “I’ll make you 3 appointments. You follow through on those and try it out. Then, we can talk about how it’s going, if you should continue, get a new therapist, try something else for a while, etc.” You might feel like an old married lady while doing this, but it’s what’s best for you, your relationship, and hubs!

          • Anon for this

            You’ll get no flack from me! Sometimes fighting the patriarchy can cloud your vision of individual, personal situations. I’m actually glad to see such strong support from all you feminist women telling me to take the initiative here. It makes me feel better about it. Curious to see how my husband will feel about it. I’ll just let him know we’re putting the patriarchy aside for the moment to focus on his individual needs.

        • Not Sarah

          I keep my insurance card in my wallet, so I would just check there. Check his work benefits if you can too – mine had three sessions free through the EAP and then health insurance would be used for any more.

      • Jess

        This. Schedule him an appointment. Find his insurance in his files if you have to. Tell them (and him) that you will come to the first one as support for him and decide if you need to be there after that. If he’s not doing it, but he’s agreed that he’s open to it, make the appointment.

        I had a really long response about why, involving all the reasons it takes me forever to get an appointment and even then I don’t stick with it long. But that really doesn’t matter.

        Just… make the appointment.

    • Amy March

      Why are you trying to do this gingerly?

      “Hey, about that baby? I am not having one with you while your plan for dealing with life is sitting around smoking pot. We have this conversation all the time, you say you are on board, and then you do nothing. You dump your negativity on me, and it hurts. At this point, your refusal to see how important this is to me and our marriage is causing a problem for our marriage. So if you won’t go to individual therapy, I need us to go to couples therapy. Because I want the partner I married back, and I want kids, and this isn’t working for me at all.”

      • Anon for this

        I know you’re right. I guess it’s hard for me to be aggressive because I don’t want to feel like I’m being mean about his anxiety. I want him to understand that I know it’s hard, and I don’t want him to think I’m under the impression that this is easy for him. But he’s an adult who’s capable of understanding “You need to do this now” and “I know it’s not easy” aren’t mutually exclusive.

        • Violet

          I hear you on the delivery aspect. But sometimes firmness is the kindest way to be, especially when someone is being self-destructive.

    • Violet

      The time for gingerness has passed. This is no longer an issue that is his solely, but one where the effects have bled out onto you and your relationship. If you have a child, they will deeply affect your child as well.

      If he feels most comfortable talking to you, you can see if he’d start with couples’ counseling. He might be more willing to go if his support is right there, he can’t lie because you’re there to call him out, plus, this has become a couples’ issue in addition to a personal one. (And by the way, a psychologist can’t prescribe meds, so go to a psychologist or social worker if he is somehow concerned a psychiatrist would steamroll him into meds, which, also legally shouldn’t happen.)

      • Anon for this

        Thank you. I brought up couples’ counseling last time we talked, and he actually seemed more open to individual therapy. But I will certainly bring it up again, making this exact point, to see if he thinks it’d be a better starting place. If nothing else, it would certainly help us communicate better about this issue.

      • Anon for this

        Oh, and I did let him know that when he’s searching for a therapist that he should specifically search for not-a-psychiatrist. He’s still doubtful that any of them won’t immediately turn to prescriptions. (Frankly, I kind of wish he’d at least be open to the idea, even as a last resort, just because I know they’re helpful to so many people. But we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it. Right now, I fully support that he doesn’t want them).

        • Violet

          I see. You sound pretty informed, so maybe you’ve already told him this. But any clinician worth their salt would definitely try to treat him without meds for at least a few months before they might decide that they can’t help and make a psychiatrist referral. Which he can then decline.

        • Kayla

          Therapists can’t prescribe medication even if they want to, so his fear that they are going to turn immediately to prescriptions is unfounded. Their job is to talk, not to prescribe.

    • Teresa

      I think my husband’s issues were a bit different–less depression and anxiety and more feeling like his emotions and feelings were a burden and keeping them all bottled up inside him–but nonetheless, the process was gradual until I put my foot down. I’d say all of this happened over the course of 3 or 4 months. I suggested talking to friends, talking to his parents, talking to me or talking to a therapist. He said okay, he did nothing. I brought up therapy again, he said okay, he did nothing. I offered to look up therapists on our insurance company’s website that were near where he works and he said okay. I brought home lists and asked him to look at reviews online, he said okay, he did nothing. Finally, I told him that his anger was negatively affecting me and that if he wouldn’t talk to me or someone he knows, he had to talk to a therapist. I told him I was giving him a week to make an appointment and if he didn’t make the appointment within the week, I was going to seriously consider asking him to move out. I really meant it because all of this was really making me miserable and I knew it could be dealt with if he’d just talk to someone. He made the appointment and he LOVES therapy. We got very lucky that he really clicked with the first therapist he tried–I know that is not always the case. I imagine the anxiety and depression might make this process harder than it was for my husband, so maybe if you could offer to do a bit more of the leg work? I really like what Amy March’s post says below–sometimes it really does come to being really blunt. I hope it all works out okay.

      • Anon for this

        I’m so glad your husband has had a positive experience! I think part of the problem is that I hear all these positive therapy stories in online communities I’m a part of, but he doesn’t. I am worried about the act of finding the right therapist. Given how unsure he is of the whole profession, I worry that if he doesn’t click with the first one, it’s going to be hard to convince him to try again, although I’ve tried to make it clear that might be part of the process.

        • Teresa

          It might be a real roadblock. Is there anyone you trust that you can ask for recommendations? That doesn’t guarantee a good fit, but it might help.

    • AP

      I don’t have any advice, only sympathy. I went through something similar with my ex husband, who used drugs and alcohol to deal with his emotions and underlying psychological issues. I happened to be catching up on the Dear Sugar Radio podcasts this week, and there were two episodes that particularly resonated with me that deal with this similar kind of thing- “Is My husband’s Pot Habit a Problem?” and “The Deal Killer” (especially the letter from the woman whose partner struggled with uncontrolled anxiety.)

      And now I guess I do have one piece of advice. Don’t have a baby until this is sorted out. In my case, I chose to walk away from someone who proved to me time and again that even if we stayed married, I would be raising any children we would have alone. That wasn’t the life I wanted for myself or my future children. If he’d been able to demonstrate any positive change, I might have stayed.

      I agree with the other commenters. This issue is big, and you deserve to be able to give it a name, address it openly, talk about it with kindness but without apology. Definitely go to couples counseling, and from there maybe he’ll be able to go to someone on his own.

      Sending good thoughts your way!

      • Abe

        I would also second those amazing Dear Sugar podcast episodes. And perhaps AlAnon… they’re a wonderful resource and support for anyone whose partner might be struggling with addiction and self-medication.

        No other wisdom that the other commenters haven’t mentioned… just sending strength, Anon for this!

        • AP

          Yep, definitely Al Anon. It helped me understand myself and my responses to his actions so much better. It also helped me learn boundaries and how to put my health and well being first. Especially as someone who grew up in an alcoholic home and then married someone with similar issues.

      • Anon for this

        Thank you for sharing your experience. I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that, but it’s good to be reminded of where these things can head if things don’t change. It really is as serious as I think it is. I definitely remember that Dear Sugar podcast about pot, and the This American Life story referenced in it. I think it’s telling that, when my husband and I were talking about the TAL story, I had most been affected by the son’s feelings of abandonment and detachment, whereas my husband had focused on how “funny” it was that the dad had the big job he did, but was high all the time. (To be fair, he likely did recognize the sad part, and didn’t bring it up because he Knew.)

        • AP

          Oh yeah, he Knew. And it is as serious and important as you think it is, you can trust your instincts on that. (I say this because I remember all too well what it felt like to doubt my own perceptions of the situation, trying to put his comfort over mine, and it made me feel crazy.) Internet hugs.

    • honeycomehome

      Honestly, stop treating his anxiety/depression as a trump card. Stop treating his negativity as if it’s something that can be/should be supported. You’re letting his disease prevent him from getting help.

      If he was experiencing symptoms of a physical disease but was afraid of doctors would you be saying that you want to help his uncontrollable headaches and blurred vision, and trying to convince him that there are ways to treat migraines without drugs? If he had high blood pressure would you concede to eating hamburgers for dinner every night?

      Yes, he’s scared. Yes, treatment may not be a magic bullet. And yes, it’s ok for him to seek treatment that doesn’t include drugs.

      But it is NOT OK to ignore symptoms. It is ESPECIALLY NOT OK to ignore symptoms and then get upset with your spouse when they express concern. This is what he’s doing. I agree with Amy March. Time to stop treating it gingerly.

      • Anon for this

        Thank you for the reality check. I have made this comparison to try to make him care about it/himself more, but I obviously need to internalize it more strongly myself and let it guide me on how to talk to him about it.

    • emilyg25

      I say this as the person with mental illness in our family, but you need to be frank and clear. “I’ve been watching you struggle with your mental health for a while now and it’s affecting our relationship. You need to get help. I’m going to make an appointment for you.” And then do. And drive him there if you need to. But he can’t keep putting this off. It’s not fair to you.

      • Anon for this

        Thank you.

    • RMC

      Agreed with everyone else – the time for gingerness has passed and baby should be out of the question until he is getting help. I would also add that fear of medication is normal but something to actively destigmatize and normalize – especially in the context of his marijuana use!! Marijuana is a psychoactive substance doing all sorts of things to his brain NOT targeted at depression/anxiety. Meds are a tool for directly addressing the problem when appropriate and shouldn’t be viewed as crutches or for people who are weak.

      • Anon for this

        I completely agree with you there. I get where he’s coming from on the medication issue, but I don’t fully agree with him. I do believe that medication can be absolutely essential treatment for some folks, and I’m uncomfortable with the level of disdain he currently has for it. And yes to your points on marijuana. He gets frustrated that people are anti-weed and don’t view prescriptions as potentially harmful drugs, but he has the opposite blinders on, refusing to see the good these prescriptions can do.

        • Anon for this

          This is probably another difficult topic to navigate, but have you talked to him about possibly cutting back on the pot first and seeing if that helps with the depression and anxiety issues? I smoke pot semi-regularly, but when I do it too much, I get really down, have trouble sleeping, and generally feel the depression/anxiety that I’ve previously experienced (had a period of clinical depression in college) come creeping back in. Obviously, feeling sad =! clinical depression, but this may be a good first step depending on your situation.

          • Anon for this

            He actually has cut back a fair amount compared to what it’s been previously. I do think it’s helped, but his anxiety has been a life-long thing, so it hasn’t gone away. But I agree that although pot might help reduce his anxiety in the moment, it likely isn’t doing him any favors long-term.

    • IrisS

      I went through this– almost the same situation– with my now-fiance (resistance to therapy, wariness/prior side effects with medications, self-medicating with weed, many symptoms of depression and anxiety) about 2 years ago. The hardest part by far was seeing if he would accept trying treatment(s). I HIGHLY recommend Anne Sheffield’s books Depression Fallout and How You Can Survive When They’re Depressed. One of the titles includes a very specific chapter on how to set your needs/boundaries about your partner’s treatment (or lack thereof). It guided my approach and helped me navigate some hard conversations, and it resulted in his trying therapy and consulting with a psychiatrist that came highly recommended. We’re still on the road of finding the right medication combo and he’s now with a therapist who’s been even more effective, so although the road is rough, he’s been able to experience first-hand some moments or times of relief from what he’s suffering. On a side note, I found myself a therapist (for the first time since childhood family divorce therapy, which wasn’t great for me)– and I am having SUCH a positive experience with having someone on ‘my’ team to help me care for myself and be a better partner without being his caregiver. I wish you luck on this road– it’s a hard one, for sure. I’m shy and have been reading APW but not posting for years, but I cared enough about reaching out today that I had to post for the first time.

      • Anon for this

        Thank you so much for reaching out. I will definitely look into that book. I’m glad that your partner has had some success with treatment, and that he’s stuck with it, even though it wasn’t an immediate panacea. And I’m glad to hear about your success with therapy too! I have considered whether I should find a therapist myself so that I have someone I can talk to about these struggles. That it helps you “be a better partner without being his caregiver” really speaks to me.

    • Kayla

      I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, because I don’t at all mean it to be, but it sounds like you could really use a therapist too. Do you have one? Having a partner with a long-term illness (mental or otherwise) is such a terribly hard situation, and it might help to have a professional in your corner to make sure you are taking care of yourself and your needs too.

      It also sounds like you need to have some really hard conversations with your husband. If things don’t change, are you willing to give up on having a baby and stay with him indefinitely? If not, he needs to know that. A therapist might also help you gear up for that conversation.

    • raccooncity

      I think this has been said below, but the best thing to do is to get therapy yourself. Your actions are, in the end, the only ones you have control over, and it would probably help to have someone help you sort through the difficulty and feelings of having a partner who has mental health issues, substance issues as well as the desire to have that person be a great father within 2 years.

    • S

      Explain to him that someone with a chronic illness still might regularly go to a doctor for treatment – just because their chronic illness doesn’t go away doesn’t mean they don’t go to a doctor to lessen their suffering. If he has depression there’s a chance he’ll experience it for the rest of his life, depending on the type of depression. No, a therapist might not be able to “fix” that for good. That doesn’t mean that it’s not important or useful to develop healthy coping strategies and mechanisms for when he’s experiencing it, it doesn’t mean that his “bouts” of it have to be as bad as they are now, and it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t seek out support. It sounds like he doesn’t understand therapy or how to talk to a therapy and there’s some fear combined with ignorance mixed up in that. I would advise going with him to a couple’s therapist initially (maybe to talk about The Problem, aka his weed use), or going with him to the first couple of individual appointments, so he understands what therapy is from that point on and can seek it out by himself. He’ll also see you model “what to do” and “what to say” and “how to say it”, and honestly express your own feelings and thoughts. This might help him learn to be honest with the therapist himself.

  • up_at_Dawn

    Like a few others before me, I posted on here about having broken off my engagement (and my 5.5 year relationship) with my former partner. I still kick around her sometimes, because I enjoy the conversations (and because, feminism). I was just wondering if there was anyone else lurking around who has gone through/is going through the same things?

    • NotMarried!

      I can’t help with comradery regarding still being close to my ex; however i’m all for the “I broke off my engagement but just-never-left APW” party!

      • Christy

        I think up_at_Dawn is kicking around HERE, not around HER (presumably referring to her ex, who may or may not be female). And I love this website.

        • NotMarried!

          that makes so much more sense :) I guess I read it as in “kick around WITH her”.

          In which case … I’m with ya!

          • up_at_Dawn

            Yeah, I really love this site.

        • up_at_Dawn

          Yes that was in fact a typo. Oops.
          I meant “here” as in APW. My ex and I are no longer speaking. Also he’s a dude.

  • E.

    It has been a doozy of a week. We made a very last minute decision to completely rearrange the students in our grade and now starting Monday I’m going to be the lead teacher co-teaching an all boys class. I’m very excited, because we’ll have a lot more freedom and get to be super active and hands on, which I love, but the reason we made this class is basically for 2 boys who can each sit still for approximately 1 minute (not an exaggeration) and try to kill each other every time they see each other. So it’ll be an adventure!

    The other adventure that I’ve barely even thought about is my first blizzard! With all the stress and craziness at work this week my partner was basically the person who made sure I had food and washed the dishes, so I’m really looking forward to actually spending time together while we’re snowed in this weekend.

    • eating words

      Getting snowed in is the best! I’m actually really excited about it (and am hoping we get enough snow where I am to justify it).

      • E.

        Yeah! I’m looking forward to being forced to relax. Can’t set up my classroom if I can’t get there!

    • Kayla

      “we’ll have a lot more freedom and get to be super active and hands on”

      Wait what. Please tell me this isn’t only the case for the boys’ class.

      • another lady

        I had a similar thought – that’s the tough part about gendered teaching – the boys are more active and the girls sit and read – typically. but, I suppose that E. can’t control what happens in the girls classes.

      • E.

        I was really pushing to have that in all the classes, as are the other teachers, but my school isn’t really into that. My principal once said “do they really need to be running around outside if they can’t read?” (My answer is yes, yes they do). Eventually I’m going to need to find a hippie school where I can do that with all the students, but for now I’m just excited I get to do it at all. And you can bet I’m going to do my damndest to make sure those boys leave my class feminists!

    • StevenPortland

      Have you read “Boys Adrift” by Dr. Leonard Sax? There is a section in the book about how classes with just boys are really good for them. Dr. Sax cites a school that made one small change and saw huge results — not requiring boys to sit down. They could stand, lean, be on the floor, whatever, as long as they were attentive. No idea how true all that is, but thought I would share.

      • E.

        I’ve heard of it, but I guess now that I’m teaching an all boys class I should actually read it :0
        That’s absolutely the kind of thing we’re going to try. We’re basically questioning everything we ask kids to do/not do. Sometimes there’s a good reason, but sometimes it’s just “not done at school” and who cares about that?

      • CMT

        That sounds like it would be equally helpful for girls, too.

        • StevenPortland

          I can’t remember the details but when a co-ed class has the policy it doesn’t help for some reason. His book is good. I’m now reading the book he just released “The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups”.

          • TeaforTwo

            I hope you come back with a review! I’ve read a few excerpts, and they seem so spot on.

          • I’m a big fan of single-sex education. I think my all-girls high school really helped me in a lot of ways (although I went to co-ed elementary school). Based solely on my personal experiences, I could see there being a lot of benefits to strategies that would help girls if taught single-sex but not coed.

  • Katie

    Hey to all the parents out there! My OH and I are expecting in the spring, and I was wondering if anyone had recommendations on a few good books to have around? I’m looking for a helpful “Is her skin peeling like that NORMAL?” type of resource, and any insightful parenting books that aren’t also crazypants. Maybe something that discussed developmental stages and ideas on nurturing those? I’ve read “Bringing up Bebe”, which I really enjoyed and made me even more irritated at what little support our government provides for families and children.

    • In my experience (first time mom to 5 month old), books aren’t the best choice for once baby arrives. YMMV, but I haven’t managed to read more than a few pages since little one arrived.

      Google has been my go-to for all my “is this NORMAL?” questions. But the prenatal class I took addressed a lot of that kind of stuff too, and definitely prepared me for a few things that I might have freaked out about otherwise. So take a class before the babe arrives if it works for you!

      • another lady face

        truths! also, a lot of doctor’s offices have the nurses hotlines that you can call to get quick questions answered. they will give quick advise, or you can tell them issues/symptoms and they will tell you if you need to bring baby in, if it’s normal, etc. a lots of first time parent friends use these for advise and to calm worries/make sure everything is okay with new baby.

        • Ashlah

          Your insurance company might have a 24 hour nurse line too. Mine does, not sure how common it is.

    • Sara

      My friend got “The Baby Owner’s Manual” which is a tongue-in-cheek but said it was educational and funny at the same time.

    • Lulu

      I have seen many a copy of Baby 411 circulated at baby showers, and it is always met with enthusiasm and claims of being indispensable.

    • ML

      I’m expecting in the spring too and have liked Mayo Clinic’s baby book: http://www.amazon.com/Mayo-Clinic-Guide-Babys-First/dp/1561487503. It’s easy to read and seems not too panic-inducing. There is a lot I skipped a lot after the newborn section, because the baby isn’t here yet, but it seems like a good reference.

      • Laura C

        I *just* bought that one since I’ve liked the Mayo Clinic’s pregnancy book pretty well.

    • another lady face

      “eat sleep poop” – written by a doctor and father. it actually has charts and chapters on xyz is happening, is this normal? should I take baby to the dr/hospital. I think it will be really helpful the first year or two. (I read it cover to cover in a few days.) Also, there is a ‘what to expect the first year’ book that goes along with the ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ books. It has week by week updates and tips at first, then goes month by month or stage by stage. (I haven’t read it yet, but was recommended by lots of friends.)

    • emilyg25

      Yes x1000 to choosing a pediatrician with a 24-hour nurse line. That and Google have been so useful to me. Our pediatrician also suggests parents use the KidsDoc symptom checker and it’s awesome: https://www.healthychildren.org/english/tips-tools/symptom-checker/Pages/default.aspx. Much more reasonable than WebMD.

    • StevenPortland

      I liked having a copy of “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age Five” in our house. Although we relied on Google a lot, it was sometimes nice to have a few pages to read about a particular issue. It’s published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Hi! I am selling a dress for my cousin for a wedding that never happened. It’s been floating around families for years so it’s older than you might expect even though unworn. Size 14W, style 95868 (circa 2004!), Comes with accessories: crinoline size 12, bustier bra size 38D, and shoes 6 1/2. I also have a Astrakin styled by Lepshire Made in France vintage jacket available. It was purchased to wear for a Winter wedding. http://saginaw.craigslist.org/clo/5407357500.html

  • K

    Just as a heads up, articles are doing that thing again where if you scroll down the comments eventually the last vertical ad jumps over some and overlaps comments, making them impossible to read. This had gotten reported a while ago and fixed, but is happening again :(

    • another lady face

      got that this week and last week – guess I’m not reading the bottom of the comments again this week! It’s the ad from Sincerity with dresses that rotate every 2 seconds. super annoying!

  • VKD_Vee

    All of you were so lovely a fortnight ago when I announced finally getting a job after being unemployed since Sept. I’m happy to report that I’ve now been offered a SECOND job that’s, like, way more money. And it’s a year long contract! Best of all, it’s NOT data-entry! I am on top of the freakin’ world right now, dudes!

    • WHOOP! Go you!

    • Alanna Cartier

      YAY! That’s magnificent! GO YOU!

    • E.

      WOOT WOOT!! That’s awesome!

    • AGCourtney

      I’m even more excited for you now! That’s so wonderful.

  • Alanna Cartier

    YAY! Friday!
    I had totally forgotten it was Friday…

    Two weeks engaged. Venue search is… stalled I guess? We have a place we like, we wanted to look at a couple more. The other venues both cancelled our appointments. One was dismissive and we will not be rescheduling. The other was gracious and responsive, so we’ll be seeing them Monday. But ugh.

    Dress hunt is going well. I’m finally looking at dresses in a price range I’m comfortable with. Take note guys: MORE EXPENSIVE DRESSES AREN”T NECESSARILY BETTER.

    • another lady

      you have done like a 100 things more in the first 2 weeks than I/we did in 2 months! and, I got my dress at a second hand store, so the dress comment it true!

      • Alanna Cartier

        The fiancee wants to get married this year and I live in a big city, so I have to act fast, lol

        • another lady

          hope everything continues to go well. my brother and his wife planned and executed a wedding in less than 6 months! It’s all about making quick decision!

          • Alanna Cartier

            Me too! At least once I have the dress, photographer and venue, I’m basically on track for a traditional timeline.

          • Angela

            We booked the first and only venue we looked at. We liked the place, we liked the people, it fit our requirements (I have coeliac disease/number of halal guests) and our budget and the contract was appropriate. I had done a lot of online research so knew that we were getting a reasonable price. I overthink and second guess everything but no doubts about this. So I guess, if you’ve done your research and the contract is sound, go with your gut?

          • Alanna Cartier

            That’s what I’m thinking. I also have celiac disease and I intrinsically trust this place not to poison me, which is good.

          • Angela

            Yes. Avoiding getting avoidably sick on your wedding day is pretty important! I am glad you’ve found one good safe option. Hopefully Monday, you’ll have two!

          • Alanna Cartier

            I hope so! I’ve only been diagnosed for celiac for just over a year, and it’s been a weird transition. We won’t be doing cake just really delicious regular dessert.

          • Eenie

            I don’t eat gluten and we are skipping cake too!

          • Alanna Cartier

            Cake is overrated anyway.

          • Just Me

            We had “cheese-cake” which was literally cheese wheels stacked up with fruit all around (and some rice crackers). It was a extremely well-received and very much gluten free.

  • Katie

    Well, I am officially in pre-engaged land. After 8 years of skirting marriage questions from well meaning friends and family, my boyfriend and I have decided that this is THE YEAR. Im excited to take this big step, and would marry him tomorrow if he wanted to, but I am dreading the stress of wedding planning. Any one else feel like this when they knew the big question was looming?

    • Alanna Cartier

      When I knew the question was looming, I started planning (ish). I researched and contacted venues I liked to get pricing, started a guest list, and made vendor lists. It’s made it SO MUCH EASIER now that I’m actually engaged.

    • E.

      Ha yes! This is THE YEAR for us as well, but sometimes I think maybe we should wait because we’ll be traveling a lot this summer so we’ll have to do most of the planning during the school year (I’m a teacher). I’m the one who’s been ready to get married for like a year already and it’s super important to me to have that community celebration, but sometimes the planning part just seems like a hassle!

    • emilyg25

      Our wedding was pretty much already planned by the time we were “officially” engaged. We’d talked about what we wanted and I’d selected some top vendors. :) Also read up of APW classics with reminders like “Your wedding is not an imposition” and “your guests are adults and can take care of themselves.”

    • S

      If you and your boyfriend have decided you’re getting married this year…what big question is looming exactly? Haha. I know that most people are into the ‘proposal’ thing but sometimes I just don’t understand the arbitrary lines that separate agreeing to get married from…agreeing to get married. Personally if my boyfriend asked me to marry him after we’d agreed to marry each other I’d be SO confused. (But that’s my problem, not yours. Congratulations on having the talk and good luck with the next step!)

    • Rebekah Jane

      Well, if it helps at all, I’m a fellow resident of Pre-Engaged Land and I’m feeling the same dread. I’m already anticipating the fights and the frustrations that will come with planning a nontraditional wedding as the kid of a traditional Southern family. Believe me, I’ve hinted over and over again that eloping would be the way to go, even as the guy stands firm on wanting a wedding.

      But, here’s what calms me down every time I start to panic over photographers and place settings – the guy wants a day not just to celebrate our love, but because he’s excited to join our families into a single room. And he’s so right to want that. That moment when I see his nephew and niece playing with my cousins and my 5 aunts and mother in a room together after I’ve declared my love for this man and welcomed him into this passel of crazy fun? I’ll go through the 12 months of waiting for that moment. So, find your moment and focus on it – hopefully, our moments will get us through every stressed DIY project and every glitter-covered tear.

  • nsmmb

    To everyone who responded to my question a few weeks back about accepting a better job offer after being at my current job for 10 months – thank you. I made the move and have been at the new job for three weeks! I’m proud that I took the risk. Some people at my old employer were definitely salty but after some bizarre back and forth (my manager refused to take my resignation letter) I got lots of well wishes and was told to come back anytime. I have more opportunities here, a better work environment, and the pay bump is a huge plus.

    As for wedding news – we’re a little less than 5 months out and it feels like the weeks are just flying by..

  • Laura C

    For anyone who’s doing wedding planning and thinking “I might as well give in on X, because it’s just for the wedding and it’s not like it’ll be setting a precedent for the future” … I think we’re starting on having the exact same issues with my MIL for baby shower planning that we had with wedding planning. She’s hosting, which complicates things (I’m not thrilled on an etiquette level to have such a close family member hosting, but the cousin who was going to do it is in chemo, so there isn’t a lot of choice), and we’re currently working on the guest list — she said she had 12-15 friends she wanted to invite, which already seemed high, and then it turned out to be 29 because it’s going to be a coed shower and she hadn’t been thinking about couples as two people. And I haven’t even heard of some of these people. Actually, at least one of them my husband wasn’t sure who it was. And I’m pretty sure the menu will be an issue, too. It’s not (at this point) contentious in the way it sometimes was for the wedding, but I’m watching it play out and kind of laughing. And very glad we were firm at some points, at least, during wedding planning, and laid that groundwork for this time and the next time and the next.

    • another prego

      The etiquette on baby showers is that it’s fine to have the MIL/future grandma host the shower. She is technically throwing a shower FOR your baby… so you might not get much say. From my experience, a lot of baby showers have gone like this – future momma lays out some guidelines and a portion of the guest list. Host does whatever she wants and invites tons of other people, future momma shows up and goes with the flow! Remember that it’s just one day/afternoon and people will be giving you presents. So, just let her do what she is going to do, go with it, and try to have a pleasant time at the shower. Accept the gifts from unknown people with gratitude. If needed, have another shower/celebration that is more your style with your people and enjoy that more!

      • Laura C

        The etiquette is pretty mixed on the MIL hosting part — from “absolutely no problem” to “absolutely unacceptable” — so I come down in the middle on that one, that it’s acceptable but should be handled carefully. But your take that the shower is for the baby is interesting, since everything I’m familiar with (and I’ve read a LOT of etiquette on this, and talked to friends who’ve been there) says that it’s about the parents-to-be, surrounding them with the support of their community. Which translates into: the guests should be people close to the parents-to-be, as it’s more about their/our community than about gifts, and people who are not part of our lives are not a community that can support us as parents and probably also shouldn’t be asked to give gifts, which is implicit in a shower invitation.

        I’m prepared to compromise to the extent of having some people I’ve only met a few times, but between having to perform for people I’ve never met and not having a shower at all, it’s the latter without question. For reasons of etiquette and personal preference.

        • Kate

          That’s the oddest bit of etiquette I’ve heard! It would never occur to me that it was strange for the mother/MIL to host a shower. I’m sure my Mom will host ours when the time comes.

          • Laura C

            The logic is that since showers are gift-giving occasions, it looks like a gift grab for a close family member to host. That’s one that’s definitely changing with changing times, kind of working its way in to closer and closer family members being acceptable, but I definitely know people who still stick to it.

          • A.K.

            literally every baby shower I’ve been to has been hosted by an immediate family member or future grandparent to the baby – just saying. and they are gift grab events – they are ‘showering’ you and the baby with gifts and love support!

          • TeaforTwo

            But that is exactly what can make them so uncomfortable!

            With my wedding shower, I was asked to provide a guest list and it had me in knots. I named about four people, and then the hosts took over and invited 20 more. I was happy to have those guests there, but would have been mortified to look like I was asking them for gifts. No amount of reminding me that people WANTED to come, and that I had never resented an invitation (although I have declined some) could make me feel otherwise.

            I’ve been to a few baby showers that were hosted by sisters or grandmothers (and frankly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that: they’ll be close to the baby, but the gifts are definitely not for them!) but I also know that the women in my family would largely stick to the no-immediate-family rule.

          • a.k.

            oh yeah, showers are SUPER AWAKWARD! But, that’s just the nature of it. I have not heard the no immediate family rule until today… maybe depends on the part of the country or social circle…?

        • another prego

          What you have said about etiquette and the reason for the party are also correct. There are 2 sides to every coin. I have been to lots of showers where guests are not necessarily close to the parents-to-be, but friends of the host. They shouldn’t be expected to give gifts, but they most-likely will, cause that’s how these things work. It’s up to you whether you just tell MIL to cancel the whole thing, but I would advise against that and just try to enjoy the day for what it is. She is trying to do something nice for you and your future family and also celebrate and exciting time in her life with those that are close to her (she’s be coming a grandma! She wants to have her friends there to share in the joy! I actually told my MIL that she can invite some of her friends if she wants.)

          • Laura C

            Oh, some of her friends absolutely! She can have all the ones who were invited to our wedding, for instance. But as many of her friends invited as we’d envisioned for the guest list for the whole event, with me and even him not knowing some of them … not so much.

    • TeaforTwo

      I have nothing for you but a sympathetic fist bump.

      My father’s wife (with whom I have a perfectly civil but not even warm relationship) threw me a wedding shower after I had declined her offer. My BFF jumped in, offered to help/cohost, and then ran a lot of interference re: “I think teafortwo would probably prefer XYZ” and I am eternally grateful to her for that.

      Showers are just so awkward. I don’t even mind being the centre of attention normally, and I certainly was moved by the support and generosity of our community, but it’s still all really awkward. Opening that many gifts, trying to be gracious and express adequate gratitude, getting weird and vaguely (or overtly) sexist advice, watching close friends rub elbows with strange relatives. All just very weird.

      Good luck!

    • Amy March

      Why will the menu be an issue? She’s hosting, she gets to decide.

      • a.k.

        exactly – if you have food issues or needs, express those and hopefully she will have something there that you/your friends can eat. Otherwise, she’s the host! you, as the mom-to-be may be trying to take too much control/ownership of this situation. she is throwing the party – she gets to decide!

      • Laura C

        Our food preferences overlap by about 20%. (Conversation we’ve had repeatedly, once versions of it multiple times in the same week: Her: “I’m at the store, do you want me to get you some fruit?” Me: “Thanks for the offer, but I really don’t eat fruit.”) As someone who gets hangry, I’m hoping to be able to eat something at this thing…

        Also, she’s a pescatarian and I have issues with fish odors at present.

        • Laura C

          Adding, I also have celiac disease and gluten-free baking is difficult and I know for a fact it stresses my MIL out. With good reason — it took me a while to relearn baking when I was diagnosed.

          • a.k.

            maybe suggest ordering from a GF bakery near them, or bringing your own GF baked goods…?

          • Laura C

            One of the conflicts I’m concerned might happen is when I suggest bringing my own GF baked goods, actually. But there is a good local GF bakery that makes some very elegant things she might be good with — thanks for the suggestion!

            I realize I sound super neurotic about this, and it’s because I am. Combine a tendency to hanger and having been diagnosed celiac 15 or so years ago when there weren’t many good GF options, and I spent a lot of time trying not to melt down while watching other people eat food I couldn’t have when I was hungry. So I definitely have issues around this, but when I’m trying to act excited about gifts and deal with awkward comments from people I barely know and feeling huge while the center of attention is not a time I can start working on it, it’s a time I need a cookie ready every time I reach out my hand!

          • Eenie

            I’m fairly certain having an emergency stock of food in your car could help. Show up, take a look at the spread, and if it looks like nothing you can eat bring in your bag of snacks disguised as a purse. If anyone asks, “oh this is all I can keep down right now! The baby has just made my stomach so touchy”

        • a.k.

          try to request no fish and give your reasons – prego can’t handle the smell of fish/I don’t wanna feel sick at this party. eat before you go to the event, if you can, and plan to eat again as soon as it is over!

          • laddibugg

            I must be the only pregnant lady who CRAVES fish…even tuna which I know I have to limit. I look longingly at the sushi menu whenever we got out :-/

        • TeaforTwo

          Oh, that sounds tough. My in-laws invited us to dinner when I was 13 weeks pregnant (and still quite nauseated all the time) and when we got there, the menu was: three kinds of raw seafood, and lots of champagne.

          My husband’s little sister went to the basement and found a bag of chips for me. I ate chips and bread.

          • another prego

            that sucks, too! I have had quite a few meals of ‘snack’ foods because I couldn’t eat the main dish or sides. chips and crackers and cheese… that’s the hard part about living with food issues and/or being prego! My hubs suggested we get cold lunch meat subs the other day for dinner – yeah, still can’t eat that! (I’m 5 months into this thing, too!)

    • Eenie

      On the ettiquite side, I really wouldn’t be offended to go to a baby shower hosted my a MIL. Other people may think differently, but I would just be happy to see the couple! And yay for coed, that’s awesome.

    • JA

      Oh, do I hear you! I’m not a “shower” person. I think they are incredibly dull and I really didn’t want to have one for our wedding. I told people this but somehow “We” (read: I) ended up having 3 showers prior to the wedding.

      Now that I’m prego, I’m trying to get in front of the issue. Trying to set boundaries and convince everyone that I neither want or need a party or a bunch of stuff has been a total flop. So now I’m trying to limit to a single event. Unfortunately that means a rather large invite list and costs could be prohibitive for hosts. I’m thinking of paying for the space and food myself to reduce that burden and having friends do the remainder of the hosting duties (still a large to-do list – invites, decor, etc etc). Hoping that works out.

      I had a great idea for a baby shower for someone with access to a commercial kitchen (as long as the parents have the freezer space): Have everyone bring freezer meal recipes and ingredients. Batch cook everything and package it up with reheating instructions. Someone please do this.

  • MC

    My big success of the week was that I finally had an intake appointment at a counseling center to start going to regular individual therapy for my anxiety issues. Y’all, it was SO relieving/validating to have a licensed professional tell me that yes, I am struggling with anxiety, and that based on my symptoms it would be easy to diagnose me with an anxiety/panic disorder, and it’s totally normal that I am having trouble managing it by myself. I almost wanted to cry with relief afterward. Three cheers for therapy!

    • emilyg25

      Good for you for getting the help you need. I have cried with relief after therapy. :)

      • Emily

        and during therapy! :)

    • VKD_Vee

      Massive props, MC! That’s rad. :)

  • Christy

    Najva, you are the coolest. You look amazing and badass and I’m basically in love with you in that pic.

  • Kayjayoh

    [low whistle for the bad-ass ladies in the photo]

  • eating words

    All of you sharing your awesome job news are giving me much-needed encouragement. My job has taken a nosedive, and I’m in the middle of interviewing for new things. It’s a little terrifying after so many years in once place, but I am SUPER-excited at the prospect of a new environment and new challenges.

    • raccooncity

      Best of luck on your searches!

      • eating words

        Thank you!

    • Eenie

      Job searching is the worst! Good luck! Hopefully a great opportunity comes your way.

      • eating words

        It’s a pain, but I’m enjoying it. Because after being made to feel cruddy in my current situation, it feels GREAT to get responses and to interview with smart people doing cool things.

    • VKD_Vee

      It’s allllllways scary to think of the next thing! But you know when it’s time to move on, right? Good luck interviewing! It sounds like you’re already doing so well :)

      • eating words

        Thank you!

  • We have to send my computer in for some hardware repairs and they’ve said it could take a few WEEKS to ship it there, get it fixed, and ship it back. I’m too much of a 21st century gal to spend that long without my fancy, fast computer. I may die.

  • Les

    Pre-engaged landmark story: had the first ‘where would we get married?’ brainstorm (eep!!)

    I shared my ideas (backyard, park, museum, restaurant), which lead to him silently puttering around the house for way. to. long.

    Just as I was about to fall off the anxious cliff, he revealed: he’d never thought about it before (I wonder what THAT’S like!), and the stuff I was describing didn’t even sound like a wedding he’d ever been to.

    I chock it up to coastal differences (me: Oregon, everyone I know got married in an arboretum or a lodge, him: NY, where everyone he knew got married in a banquet hall in NJ somewhere).

    So I took him to APW for the first time (!!!!) and showed him all the different venues people use. It blew his mind and he loved it! He’s so not a traditional guy, so I had a feeling he’d come around. Thank you for helping!

    I am ecstatic to report his most recent idea would be to have a night ceremony in the ruins of Bannerman’s Castle in the middle of the Hudson, where guests would sit in dragon boats holding torches (!!?!!).

    • another lady

      check out offbeatbride.com also. There are some crazy different cool fun non-traditional at all weddings on there! might be just his style! steampunk theme at an aquarium with a reception at a brewery – they would totally embrace it!

    • Ashlah

      So awesome! My typically non-traditional guy also had trouble with some non-traditional aspects of weddings simply because he hadn’t seen them done before. Glad he came around! Have fun planning!

    • JC

      We had a very similar (although not our first) conversation last week around: “What month/season would you want to get married in?” So much silence. So much never having thought about seasons, apparently? Haha.

    • AmandaBee

      Yes – we had a similar experience. I’ve mentioned doing something like a Sunday brunch wedding, or having a food truck cater, and it just blows his mind. It’s so hard to deviate from the ceremony, dinner, dance at a reception hall template if that’s all you’ve ever seen. It’s kind of fun to be in the stage of realizing that you can do anything!…well, anything you can pull off in your budget and timeframe ;)

  • raccooncity

    So we got our pictures!!! They’re all amazing and I love them. I laughed super hard remembering all the fun we had that day. Here are a couple that were available in lower-quality format so I can upload them here. One is me, and one is me and mr. RC as a newly-minted married couple.

    In other news, I started at my practicum for my degree this month and it’s nice to be WORKING again (even if it’s not for money…)

    • ML

      Wow you are stunning! I love the simple elegance of your dress, hair, bouquet, everything. So beautiful! Congratulations!

      • raccooncity

        Thank you so much for your words! It was a lovely day.

    • Not Sarah

      Your dress is drop dead gorgeous! Such class!

    • Ashlah

      Be-yoo-tiful!

    • eating words

      Gorgeous!

    • Sosuli

      Aaaah! So beautiful!

    • Yall look amazing!

    • Ooo great pics! I LOVE your dress!!

    • VKD_Vee

      HOW FREAKING GORGEOUS ARE *YOU* BOTH!? Too gorgeous, probably! :)

    • JC

      Gahhhhh look at your dress!!!!!

    • Ravenclawed

      Can I ask who makes your dress? It is absolutely stunning!

      • raccooncity

        It was a Nicole Miller dress with a couple alterations. I think this dress is out of production now, but it was called Caitlyn, and Nicole Miller dresses in general are so simple and lovely.

    • Rebekah Jane

      Gorgeous! I showed the boyfriend and he said you look like Colbie Smulders in the first picture – a high compliment in our house!

      • raccooncity

        OMG, a compliment here as well since we are Canadian.

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      YOUR DRESSSS.

  • Sosuli

    OK, so I’m pretty late for happy hour, but I had to drop by to say… Yesterday I submitted my PhD dissertation for examination!!!

    So I’m in the UK and the system is a little different, but basically this means that my printed and bound dissertation is now getting sent to my two examiners (internal and external) to read. So I haven’t defended yet, but I have got over a major major hurdle and for the moment I can relax and enjoy not having to write it anymore!

    • AGCourtney

      Congratulations! That’s an awesome accomplishment. Enjoy relaxing~

      • Sosuli

        Thanks! Today I was in my pjs watching trashy tv until lunchtime. It. Was. Amazing.

    • Violet

      Oh my god, congrats! Sounds like the night in with wine helped to finish it up!

      • Sosuli

        Thank you! It really did. Wine makes proof-reading surprisingly more productive!

  • JC

    I am also late to happy hour, but here’s my quick celebration:

    We’ve been dealing with some really crappy friendships lately– cliques, impolite issues of money, complete disrespect for other people’s time, etc. Then yesterday BF found out he didn’t get a job that he’s interviewed for FOUR times. Really disheartening. Today, he locked himself out of our apartment, and I couldn’t get home to give him keys. He called one (said crappy) friend, who dropped everything to come pick him up and take him to work since he couldn’t use his car. I told this friend how appreciative I was that he would be so generous, and his response was, “OF COURSE, you guys do stuff for everyone all the time!” Cue happy tears of being appreciated.

    • JC

      I was almost ready to write to you all asking if I should go to bat for my rarely-offended but VERY hurt BF after these friends were particularly rude, but it looks like time has helped heal that wound a little bit!

    • raccooncity

      I have PMS so I will cry at this as well. I’m glad you had happy tears!

  • Caitlyn

    Our perfect-for-us winter wedding was two weeks ago in Chicago and I’m just returning to work after our honeymoon in Paris! Thank you APW and the APW community for all (and I mean ALL) of your help planning our wedding! Our highlights were: wearing my mom’s wedding dress, Irish dancing with my dad as our father/daughter dance, aunts/cousins also Irish dancing, my sweet husband’s toast to me, my husband and i serving as Eucharistic ministers during our awesome and very personal and very Catholic ceremony led by our liberal and super welcoming friend/priest, and capped off with the final dance of our 272 guests in a circle around my husband and i, my parents, his parents, and my brother dancing together in the center. And as a total pull from APW, we included in our ‘thank you’ in the ceremony program this line – Today, as we form a new little family, our families become family, and our friends become friends. It really set the tone for our wedding day, and while I thought the whole day was perfect, I’m so glad to be done planning!!

  • Emily

    APW, because of all of you I FINALLY signed up for YNAB… and I’m loving it! (Well, I can’t say I’m thrilled with how quickly my buckets really do empty out, but it is good good good for me to see!) Thanks to all!

  • Achernar

    Wait, what?! You have to negotiate for vacation time in the US?? yeeesh, that’s tough, way to go! Thanks for the reminder I have a lot to be grateful for in Australia. Also, I’m sure it’s already been said, but that happy hour pic is SO. BADARSE. Sorry, BADASS!

    • Kayjayoh

      Sometimes. Sometimes you don’t have to. Sometimes you can’t. My job, for example, has an institution-wide vacation policy which is pretty generous, but I don’t think you would be able to get more if you wanted. Other places might be more willing to negotiate for paid time off (vs negotiating for a higher salary.)

  • VKD_Vee

    Oh man… Is anyone still here?? I just totally LOST it watching this amazing and incredible (wedding reception!) video…

    http://www.ndtv.com/offbeat/this-powerful-haka-at-new-zealand-wedding-has-given-millions-the-feels-1268838

    OMG!!

    • CMT

      I literally just watched that. And totally cried.

  • AmandaBee

    Well, this is my first time posting here but I got engaged a week ago! :) Reading through APW posts (especially the “real wedding” posts) has been a huge help in figuring out what we want to do. We’re hoping to tie the knot this summer in a casual-ish restaurant wedding – if anyone has advice on planning a budget wedding in < 6 months, I'd love to hear it!

    • Alynae

      Pick the things that matter (ours was great food, good wine, and that people would have fun). Get those things done. The things that don’t matter (linen colors, decorating the venue, a “decorative looking” seating chart), dont worry about. If they matter to someone else (friend cared a lot about how the seating chart looked), have them take care of it. Hire a day-of-coordinator or a planner if at all possible because they take care of all the logistics that seem overwhelming (rentals, day of drop offs etc) and have contracts and don’t need a lot of lead time.

      • emmers

        I so agree with all of this! It really is ok to skip stuff. I wish I hadn’t spent nights anxiously wondering which cake topper to get & had just skipped it entirely. If we had also halved our decorations (or less!!), it would have been fine.

        • AmandaBee

          Thanks! The “its okay to skip it message” is so helpful. Our priorities are super similar – good food, good drink, and have fun. And get married, obviously.

          • emmers

            It sounds like you’ve got the right idea! It’s all about the goal — marriage! The best part!

    • emilyg25

      The nice thing about a restaurant wedding is that pretty much everything is already taken care of for you—venue, food, decor. You just need to choose clothes, an officiant, a photographer and any other bonuses that are important to you (invitations, bouquet, etc., all optional).

      • AmandaBee

        Yessss, that’s one of the biggest reasons we’re considering a restaurant wedding. That, and we figured it maximizes our chances of good food (which was a priority for us).

    • Lawyerette510

      We did something similar in less than 4 months from when we started looking at venues to when we were actually married. We found a restaurant we liked that was part of a very small hotel, we had it on a Monday so the buy-out was cheaper, and it was great. Because of the (outdoor) space and the flowers and the cool linens and lighting they already regularly had on site, we didn’t worry about decor. We kept it simple which kept the budget lower, and I ordered my dress online (well ordered a bunch of dresses on line from bunches of places that allowed returns) and had a “try on party” at my house with my close girlfriends instead of going to a bridal store because of the short timeline and the budget. Spring is a great time to be looking for white dresses!

      Also, I’d say as soon as you have the date, let your people know, especially your key people. I had a save-the-date postcard draft saved on Minted and as soon as the contract was fully executed, sending it out was the next thing we did. I also had already called, emailed or texted with the very closest of the close about the date.

      Good luck!

      • AmandaBee

        Thanks – this is super helpful!

    • Danielle

      Congratulations!

      We technically had a 10-month engagement, but only really planned for 4 months due to school/work and other obligations.

      A restaurant wedding sounds great! I wanted to do it but it didn’t work out due to other factors (wanted to have a dance floor, found it hard to compromise with husband on a place, etc). It would have made the planning a lot easier, since it’s already decorated, has food and dishes, etc.

      I would second what other commenters have mentioned already, the limited time frame is actually a blessing in disguise because it forces you to focus on what’s important. You don’t need ALL THE THINGS. Focus on what’s important to you both, minimize other voices while still listening to what matters to people like parents (if you can, and if they’re not being crazy), be ready to state clearly and repeatedly what you want, and have fun!!

      • AmandaBee

        Aah, it’s just so helpful to hear that we’re not crazy for trying it. Thankfully, our families have been really chill about it so far – that definitely helps!

        • Danielle

          You’re totally not crazy. It actually seems like the more sane way to me :)

          Also, we were also on a budget. We live in a fairly low-cost part of the country, so it was not hard to find affordable choices. Hopefully you are in a similar-ish situation.

          Good luck!

    • Carolyn S

      We had an 8 month engagement, and thought about the restaurant, but due to laziness, went with a traditional wedding venue (golf course). It came with a coordinator that did the day of, but also a detailed list of what we needed to tell them when so basically an ongoing wedding planner. We also had a very small wedding and didn’t want our guests to have to help with anything because there were so few of them, so an all inclusive venue ended up being really important to us. I think the biggest turn off for the restaurant for us was that we wanted to get married outside, and really didn’t want to do the work of a self set up venue outside. So the restaurant would have worked great for a reception, but not the ceremony for us.

      • AmandaBee

        Good point – I’ve always wanted to get married in a park or in the woods. But because some of our family members aren’t super mobile (and because I have mad wicked anxiety about weather) we’d already decided to get married inside. We’re looking at a few places with an outdoor patio or, like, really big windows though as a compromise.

    • Lizzie

      Congrats on your engagement! You can totally pull everything together in <6 months. We did it in 4, and even though it meant jettisoning some things and having several "no" RSVPs due to relatively short notice, it was worth not planning for a year. (As someone who dislikes event planning, that is.) I cut down one timeline by hiring a catering company that knew the venue well, so they had all the logistics down pat. I also bought my dress online and had it altered at my trusted neighborhood tailor, so no waiting months for a custom dress. Basically as long as you have a good handle on what's important to you, and you're willing to cut corners on everything else, you'll be fine.

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