Dear Short Answers >> My husband and I have always wanted to live in Europe. When we were working, that wasn't possible, but now that we are retired, we have been looking at potential cities and apartments that we can rent.
Unfortunately, before we could actually pull the trigger and go, my husband developed a serious illness that prohibits him from traveling too far from his medical care.
Would it be horrible for me to go to Europe without him? I could certainly return if I had to. Next year, he might be too sick for me to leave. What would you do?
— Traveling pants
DEAR PANTS >> Make sure his condition really prohibits travel. Perhaps his treatment can be postponed, or can it be delivered in a European city? Perhaps you both can go for a shorter time. Traveling separately at this time seems problematic.
Dear Short Answers >> My older brother has some emotional problems and tends to lean on me too much sometimes. I love him, but want him to back off a bit and live his own life. What can I say to him that won't hurt his feelings, but gives me more space?
— A Smothered Little Sister
DEAR SISTA >> In some families, parental responsibilities get transferred to the most capable kid. There are worse sins, but we feel your pain. Sometimes dependence is a habit — sometimes there is a bona fide need for help. Try to distinguish between the two — set him free when you can by encouraging him to handle things himself, but a lot of this is trial and error. Emancipation is the work of lifetime.
Dear Short Answers >> I've noticed that, on certain occasions, a female colleague I respect starts using "effing" every other word when she's talking about work. I made a polite remark about it once and she misunderstood me — she thought I was agreeing with her about something.
I'm no prude, and can swear like a sailor, but the constant use of this unnecessary descriptor makes her seem coarse (which she isn't) and, quite frankly, becomes irritating. It's sort of like listening to someone say "like" 20 times in 2 minutes.
— Make It Stop
DEAR STOP >> We are perpetually amazed by our culture's diverse response to cussing. Some people think it's blasphemy, and some think it is colorful — and it's hard to tell who will be offended. We are, frankly, agnostic on this matter — but shamelessly susceptible to those around us. If someone is "talkin' trash" — before we know it, we are too! On that basis, we are sympathetic to your friend who probably doesn't have any idea how "repetitive" her speech has become, but we urge you to use a light touch in correcting her.
Dear Short Answers >> I have three friends who are all named "Shawn" and all three of them are gay. Do you think they became gay because they were named Shawn? Or do you think their parents knew they were going to be gay before they were even born?
— Would Love to Know
DEAR KNOW >> We require a bit more information. Are all spelled "Shawn" or is there a "Sean" in the group?