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She thinks her daughter isn't married because of her clothing choices

| Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 9:00 p.m.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

My 35-year-old daughter makes sexy clothing choices that result in her looking trashy. She's unmarried and wonders why. What can I say that will help her wake up?

-- Anonymous

“As your parents, we gave you some messed up ideas on sexuality and a woman's worth. I'm sorry about that, and I hope you can forgive us. You're a wonderful person; not only is that all that counts, but you found your way there on your own in a lot of ways. I wish I'd understood all of this 30 years ago when it really would have helped you.”

Hi, Carolyn:

My husband and I are on a tight budget, so when there is a non-holiday event on my side of the family, I usually travel solo. Some family members usually ask where he is, and I tell them the truth -- he had to work (which I feel is all the info. they need).

Recently, I traveled to a party for one of these family members, and I was met with little comments: “Where's your husband?” “Oh, I guess we'll never see him,” etc. This really bothered me since it is a sacrifice for either him or me to travel. I don't feel like I should have to explain my finances, however, I felt really judged by them.

Do you have any advice on how to shut this down? I love my family but at this point I don't want to visit.

-- Bothered

Maybe their tone-deaf comments have soured you too much on these family members, but if not, then you could genuinely say: “You'd see him if you came to visit us! We'd both love that.”

Otherwise: “I wish you knew how badly he wanted to be here.”

Either way, brush the rest off as more your discomfort than theirs. If you felt good about going solo -- meaning, if you had happier reasons for his not coming along -- then you'd have no trouble brushing them off. Sometimes it's just tough to get by.

Dear Carolyn:

I have had the month from hell. I discovered my husband has a porn addiction that could have bankrupted us had I not caught it by sheer happenstance. The crisis has been averted and we are both in therapy.

But the strain of these events has taken a toll. I can't hide my discomfort about being with my husband, and friends are noticing. There hasn't been any overt nosiness, just gentle inquiry about my well-being.

I don't want to hurt my husband by broadcasting this mess, never mind my personal embarrassment, so how do I respond to well-meaning questions?

-- Strained

I'm sorry you're going through this. Your marriage is hardly the first or last to be swamped by online temptations of some sort -- so even though I doubt I can talk you out of your embarrassment, I hope I can at least assure you that almost everyone you know has been or knows someone who has been affected by the scourge of addictive media.

As for how to respond: The rules of deflection are the same as always, even when the degree of hell feels hotter than ever before. “Having the month from hell -- I'll manage though. Thanks for asking.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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