Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax:


While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On severing the tie with the in-laws/grandparents because your spouse has died:

Not long after breaking the news to me that his girlfriend was pregnant, my 18-year-old son was murdered. One of the things that helped me maintain some normalcy in my life is that I had to help provide for my future granddaughter.

Seventeen years later, I have been permitted by her mother to play a great part in my granddaughter’s life — so much so that my granddaughter thinks of me more as a father than her grandfather. To this day, when I see my precious baby girl, it’s like I still have my son with me. My advice is to please let the grandparents maintain a connection with their grandkids.


On that existential stumper, “Do I really have to?”:

Many, many years ago, when I asked whether I had to turn in a problem set, my math teacher said to me: “The only thing you have to do in this world is die.”

I remind myself of that whenever I’m feeling put upon or forced into an uncomfortable position. It helps me realize that, in almost every situation in life, there is a choice to be made, and I’m the one making it. It’s very empowering.


On being the only one making an effort to save the marriage:

If someone really is considering leaving the marriage, one technique is to go find a good divorce lawyer and have an initial consultation, which is usually free. Also find a good marriage counselor, have a session or two by yourself to be sure you feel you can work with him or her.

Then hand your spouse a business card from both, and ask which office s/he’d like to meet you at . I know people who have saved their marriages this way.


Email Carolyn at or follow her on Facebook at

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