Dear Margo: This Fundamental Difference Bodes Ill for a Happy Marriage

In re-evaluating my beliefs I think I’ve lost my husband, please help.  Margo Howard’s advice

This Fundamental Difference Bodes Ill for a Happy Marriage

Dear Margo: After two years of research and soul-searching, I have rejected my faith and become an atheist/humanist. I grew up in a Christian household, and all of my family and most of my friends are Christians. I was once devout, and I married a Christian man. I have been honest with “Kurt” since I started doubting my faith — telling him of my doubts and updating him on my thoughts and findings. He was patient and supportive. However, that all changed several days ago when I told him I realized I was an atheist.

Kurt completely shut down and ignored me for the rest of the evening and the following day. When he finally did talk to me, he told me he felt like a failure as a husband, that I’d betrayed him, that he’s no longer proud to be married to me, and that my atheism is a “dirty secret” he has to keep. He proceeded to list all of the things that are wrong with our marriage and implied the fault was all mine. When I tried to interject my opinions, he told me to shut up because he didn’t care what I had to say on the matter. Then he went to bed. We have not spoken of it since. Needless to say, I am heartbroken. Since this incident, we have coexisted politely, like roommates. We obviously need counseling, but in the past when I brought it up, he said he wouldn’t go since I’m the one with the problem. Do you have any advice about how to proceed? I don’t know whether our marriage can survive this. — The Apostate

Dear Ap: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I believe the marriage is a goner. Your husband is clearly very religious. He is embarrassed that you have arrived at this decision and is unwilling to hang on to the marriage through counseling. I think your life will be happier when you two part, as this new barrier between you is such a basic issue. I salute you for taking two years to arrive at a decision, and I do not believe you have “a problem.” Good luck. — Margo, thoughtfully

Any Rules About Showers (of the Baby Kind)?

Dear Margo: My boss and his wife are expecting their first child. My co-workers and I are thrilled for him because many of us know he’s been waiting for this moment for a very long time. He and his wife opted not to have a baby shower, partly due to the fact that she’s a doctor at a busy urban hospital and now is on mandatory bed rest. My co-workers and I want to honor this occasion, and we all decided to contribute money to buy a gift and throw him a small office shower.

My task is to create the greeting card, as I do this as a part-time gig, but I am at a loss. Because the shower will only be for him at our office, I was going to have the card say something along the lines of “For the soon-to-be daddy.” But not including her doesn’t feel right. (Personally, I intend to send them a gift addressed to both, as I know them both socially.) Any advice? — One of the Girls

Dear One: Since the boss is held in high regard, I think it’s fine to have him be the single honoree at the shower. He knows his wife was involved, so don’t give it a thought that there’s no mention of the mom-to-be on the card. The interest of everyone in the office sounds quite sweet. I know the shower will be a great success. — Margo, festively

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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87 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Violet says:

    I disagree on the card. Why not address it to both of them. If he brings the card home, and she sees it addressed to only the husband, that seems like a pretty big snub. I would make the card to the both of them, and say something to her like “Absent from the party, but not from our best wishes” or something. Just giving a gift to him, and only addressing the card to him when they are having the baby together seems very strange to me.

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      I agree with you, Violet. To not include mom-to-be on the card will no doubt send a red flag to her: Why are the ladies of the office only addressing it to him? Do they have crushes on him? Is one or more of them fenagling to start an affair? What goes on in the office (because she can’t be there?). It took 2 to create the baby; the card should be addressed to both. I also think it’d be nice and fitting for the gals of the office to buy a token gift exclusively for mom, as a goodwill gesture.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Wow…really? Finagling an affair with the boss based on asking whether to include his wife in the office card? Maybe they’re all planning to make him pull the train for them while showering him with booties and bibs…I hope he got his scrip for little blue pills filled, and has those twin bathtubs ready and waiting…His wife, the doctor, had better be watching for those Red Flags. Those Office Girls are out to get him…
        And why does everyone think that mom deserves a special gift? I have two sons…I never expected any Push Presents for carrying and delivering them. Men aren’t biologically or physiologically able to perform that part of the reproductive cycle…isn’t it time…if we women are really, actually socially and culturally evolved…to stop demanding special consideration for a biological process that is natural and our choice? As you said, it takes two, a man and a woman…in this case, a husband, and an apparently educated, intelligent, well-prepared and thinking wife. Please give her some credit for making an informed choice along with her partner.
        Yes, the card should be made out to both of them. I sent a baby gift to my husband’s boss and his wife when their son was born. He was delighted, and so was she. They don’t do showers in his office…but I never even considered not putting his wife’s name on the card.

    • avatar Lila says:

      And yet, I have never seen a baby shower thrown for anyone but the mom, or the card addressed to anyone but the mom.
      I don’t think it is a huge faux pas to address it just to the dad, since he’s the one receiving the shower (just like jillions of moms before him).  But I’d tell the LW to do what feels right, which – for her – is to address it to both parents.  In the end, it’s really no big deal.  The parents will remember the gifts and the thought, more than what the card said.

      • avatar bean says:


        It is funny you mention that you have never seen a shower thrown for anyone but the mom.

        When my best friend and her husband we expecting, I actually threw the shower for both of them. The cards from our friends were all addressed to the couple (some actually addressed it to the baby instead which I thought was kind of cute actually).

        We had the party at a small restaurant with our male and female friends. 

        I just felt it was so tiresome to go to a baby shower with only women and to exclude the husband when he was 50% of it. Everyone had a great time and actually mentioned to me that is how they would want their shower too. 

        • avatar Lila says:

          Bean, I am glad to hear that some folks are thoughtful enough to include both parents in the baby shower.  It makes sense, since both parents will be raising the baby, after all. 

      • avatar A R says:

        I agree, Lila. His wife doesn’t work there, and won’t be there when they give him the presents to take home.
        If it is an office affair, just write the card to the person who works at the office.  Simple.

  2. avatar D says:

    What does LW1 expect counseling would do?  If the husband reacted as described when LW1 told him of her atheism, I am not sure how counseling would repair the marriage.  The only thing that counseling might help would be to make the husband less bitter.  I would save the money spent on counseling and use it to hire a good divorce attorney.

  3. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    For LW! – I do not like Margo’s response – she has told him for 2 years of her discontent – if he was so opposed to it – he could have and should have, had several discussions with her since that time.  To all of suddent not speak to her is petty and juvenile.  I applaud that she has done research and is vocal about her beliefs (even if I may not agree).  I am sorry to say that I do not think the marriage will survive this.  But, perhaps this is best, given the diversity of the beliefs.  Please do not think that you betrayed him or deceived him.  You have been honest with him since you have begun doubting.  Much better than springing it on him last minute


    Please add the wife to the card – it sill seem like a snub to the wife as someone else pointed out.  Even if the bosses wife would generally take things in stride, a pregnant women with reeling hormones is not in her right mind as all females know.  Save yourself and fellow female workers the hassle and address all things to the wife.  (I am speaking as a former pregnant, hormonal woman)

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I’m sorry, but I worked very effectively, without any particular loss of sanity beyond that caused by my co-workers, until two weeks before both of my sons were born. I walked regularly, ate sensibly, was very happy, gained no more than 23 pounds, and did not seem to suffer from “reeling hormones”. To imply that pregnant women are not in their right minds is a little frightening. What century have you time traveled from? In the last trimester, some women begin to have difficulty making decisions due to concentration on imminent delivery (this occurs in the late eighth and ninth months), and some states due not permit women to make certain legal decisions then…but this doesn’t even occur with all women.
      Of course, some women use their pregnancies as an excuse to get away with an astounding array of bad behavior. Just as they use PMS, their periods, menopause…etc..  I’ve never been one of those, so perhaps it’s just me.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        That should have been “do”, not “due”. I was thinking “due to” and “due date” while in a state of deep, dark amusement and vague disgust.

      • avatar Lila says:

        Briana, whaaaat?  Some states don’t let pregnant women make certain legal decisions???  

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Yup. There is a legal precedent based on lawsuits made by women claiming that hormones released during the last trimester cause a pregnant woman to become completely fixated on the upcoming process of labor and delivery to the exclusion of everything else…so much so that said woman is either incapable of making responsible decisions due to a lack of concentration, or can be easily influenced by other parties because the only thing that matters is the upcoming birth of her child. We’re back to Victorian “hysteria”, I guess.
          However, interesting factoid. Both of my obstetricians recommended against making any serious commitments or decisions in the last month of pregnancy…not for hormonal or mental issues having to do with the upcoming birth…but because of the added stress they could put on me, and because, in that last month, women are frequently very tired, anxious, have a lot of last minute decisions about the baby and related matters to make, and the stress and concern about these things can cause the pregnant woman to be more dismissive of non-baby related issues than she would normally be. Also, one can plan all one desires…babies put in an appearance when they’re good and ready to do so…and that can be a serious detriment to certain legal and financial issues. My first son was a case in point…after twelve hours of back-to-back contractions (no, I’m not whining), he was born by truly emergency c-section…and our bills went from $2500 to over $15,000. My doctor tried to schedule my second son’s c-section for September 11. Good thing I insisted he was an opinionated critter (and he is), and that I was 100% certain of the date of his creation…because I demanded the 4th…and went into labor on the 10 minute drive to the hospital. My contractions were back to back when he was born 40 minutes later (c-section).
          So there may be educated and actual reasons to exercise caution that last month. But laws? I don’t theenk so. I managed two stores and supervised four up until two weeks before #1 son was born, and I never missed a beat, even turning in two flawless monthly order forms for both stores I managed, coming in under budget, covering all special orders and filing accurate inventories. At the second, I was bored to tears because I’d trained my replacements too well…but I still caught the one serious mistake ( a moronic shortcut one of them had devised all on her own, because she was lazy, that shut down six dispatch systems) and did all of the recovery work, accurately, during my last week at work. Yes indeed, pregnant women are all ditzy, bitchy, hormonal and belong in an asylum.
          The GOP would totally agree. Hoo, boy.

          • avatar KL says:

            But wouldn’t it be a competency issue not a pregnancy issue?  Perhaps certain pregnancies that are complicated can create competency issues.  I don’t know of any personally, but I can imagine some scenarios that could cause that (or claimed to have caused that since there are plenty of other situations that have resulted in loss of competency).  But I find it hard to believe that there are full-on laws in different areas that prevent that?  

            Briana — are you saying that there are actually laws on the books that prevent this? 

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Yuppers. And the laws were created and pressed into law to protect women, by women. Not by Fundamentalist Christian Misogynist Male Right Wing-Nuts with oppression on their minds. Some women are very proud of these laws.
            I will do some research (I have been in scatter mode all week, but will take the time as soon as I get a chance) and find some addresses…wink, wink, say no more…with information.
            The women who find these sorts of “protections” logical and reasonable must be te same who find “female issues” an excellent excuse to exercise the evil and tyranny of…uh…woman…over their helpless flocks.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            I just spoke with our lawyer. She  told me that there were a number of attempts to get such laws passed on the basis of diminished capacity, coercion, and duress, but that despite the vigor of those supporting the laws. These were mostly promoted by women…and mostly to gain a foothold in divorce cases in which prenuptial agreements made while the wife-to-be were pregnant were concerned, or in which women who were pregnant claimed they were not thinking clearly during agreements made prior to separations and divorces, or during division of property, child support and custody cases.
            However, none of these laws have ever been passed into the books. My mistake…the last time I’d heard of them, it was some time after my divorce from my second ex, and it was in reference to the way I had been “talked into” (actually, I was brow beaten, but it had nothing to do with my being in the ninth month of pregnancy) purchasing a town home that proved to be a disastrous mistake. That was twenty years ago…and even after what I’d been through, I thought they sounded anachronistic and horrible. So, I’m thankful to be proven wrong. 
            However, there are still plenty of people trying to get such laws into existence. And far too many women trying to excuse extremely poor decisions based on “diminished capacity” or “duress” because of pregnancy. Might as well be treated for hysteria, or request “female stimulation”. Ugh.
            Score one for true liberation.

          • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

            I was going to comment regarding your statement regarding laws about pregnant women, but since you have retracted, I will drop that part of it.  What is important though is that you are right that people continue to try to put through blatantly misogynist laws and it has gotten worse since 2010.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            What is sad is that this particular set of laws is mostly being promoted by the more Liberal, allegedly feminist crowd to “protect” women who make prenuptial agreements during divorce situations from alleged “duress” or “diminished capacity” due to pregnancy. Really?
            Female troglodytes. I guess someone has to give birth to and nurture GOP candidates.

          • avatar wendykh says:

            While I can’t call it diminished capacity, I would absolutely call pregnancy and being asked to sign a prenup during that a time of duress. At least in a country like the US where marrying him might mean whether she has health care or not. 

            prenups are crap anyway. It should all be spelled out in state contract law like any other contract. And if a man doesn’t want to marry a woman because he doesn’t like the contract terms of the state, then women need to stop having babies with those men. It’s really not that complicated. 

          • avatar Lila says:

            Briana, ah, much relief.  [Putting sharp stick down now] 

          • avatar Lila says:

            Briana, gaaaaahhhh!  [poking eyes with sharp stick]  Perfect example of how the stupid fainting flowers wreck things for those of us who are NOT fainting flowers.
            One Army friend timed her first pregnancy for language school.  She was in class right up until the Friday before her weekend delivery, and back to class two weeks later (she was allowed to take up to 45 days leave but when you’re learning a language – that puts you too far behind).  Another Army friend was running, speedwalking, bicycling and doing everything right up to her due date.  And yet a third timed her pregnancy as she thought she would be leaving her command position and going to school… but then they extended her in the job.  Result:  going out to the field while pregnant.  She had already started to show enough that she couldn’t latch her pistol belt, but that did not slow her down.
            They are all MUCH tougher than me.  I would probably be depressed and lie on the sofa for 9 months gorging on Reese’s cups.  But that would have nothing to do with hormones, and everything to do with mourning the impending end of my child-free existence.

          • avatar mjd4 says:

            Lila – “Perfect example of how the stupid fainting flowers wreck things for those of us who are NOT fainting flowers.”  
            Gah!   And all those shiftless blacks ruin it for the decent hard working ones???  And all those stingy rich Jews…. you get the idea.  

            There are all sorts of people in this world.  All have faults, and a good many of them fit some negative stereotype or other.   Please do not blame them for existence of injustice, or use them to justify it!  

          • avatar mjd4 says:

            Ok, sorry, I saw the post you were responding to and it was not what I thought.  

          • avatar Lila says:

            mjd4, actually, I have from time to time been stereotyped according to how other women have behaved, so I am a little sensitive to that whole phenomenon.

          • avatar poppygirl says:

            You’re every woman, it’s all in you. Anything you want done, baby, you do it naturally! Rusty is so lucky. :) Don’t ever let him tell you differently. Can I get a round of applause in here?

      • avatar wendykh says:

        Brianna I’m glad you dealy with pregnancy easily but these women are not making it up. It’s biological fact that pregnant women are reeling in hormones, and in some women this causes them to behave in a manner different than their normal attitude.

        Personally I don’t get what the LW’s big issue is! Just say “For the new parents!” simple as that,I can’t even figure out why this is an issue. Frankly, I find it more troubling that they know the couple has CHOSEN to not have a shower, and are doing one anyway. If she’s in hospital on mandatory bedrest, the condition is precarious and they may not want to “tempt fate” by having an early shower, but prefer to wait for a welcome baby party afterwards.

        I personally would wait to give this gift until news arrives that the baby has been born and the mom and baby are both healthy. 

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          I am apparently not the only one who found the original comment, from Kate Olsen, which contained this phrase, “…a pregnant women with reeling hormones is not in her right mind as all females know.” to be insulting. I acknowledged that women, especially in the last trimester, can be less attentive to many things because they are biologically concentrated on the impending process of labor and birth. However, there is an enormous difference between “behaving in a different manner than usual” (to paraphrase your statement) and “not being in her right mind”, to paraphrase Kate Olsen’s comment.
          Most of the women who replied to Kate’s post seemed to feel she was generalizing and over exaggerating her claim. We are not “reeling” in anything…our hormones change as the baby develops, and we prepare for its birth. The hormones produced during pregnancy are supposed to be good for you, not make you into a madwoman. There is a social expectancy that women will become vaguely loony during pregnancy…and bitchy, and unstable…and this is promulgated by those who use it as an excuse for excessive behaviors…eating, being demanding, bitchy, helpless, whiny and difficult…smoking (yup, I’m giving up my life…queue dramatic look…for this baby, so I might as well have my fun)…the same way the same sorts use PMS, periods. menopause…everything “hormonal”.
          During my first trimester I was a little more subject to sentiment than usual…and I had all-day sickness for five months with both critters. Other than that, I was a very happy pregnant lady very dedicated to doing things in the best way possible for me and the space aliens riding in my body. The last month I was a little tired, and a bit turned inward…but hardly reeling…nor have a I ever known a single woman…and I’ve known lots…who was “reeling and not in her right mind” during pregnancy. Unless she was like that to begin with…and that’s a whole different story. 
          I am in peri-menopause now. I have been for about 8 years by my ob/gyn’s estimation. It has been a trip, due to my very narrow window of tolerance for any chemical imbalance (that would have to do with my abnormal brain function and brain chemicals…the neurological substances that contribute to my unmentionables). Hormonal changes cause that narrow window to go psychedelic. I know roller-coaster hormones…and I’m still in my right mind about 90% of the time…which is good for a diagnosed loony. Pregnancy was a mouse compared to shutting down the plant.
          My husband and I got his boss and wife a baby gift after she delivered  healthy boy. Sometimes…I don’t know. All of the traditions confound me. I only had showers because people insisted…not because we wanted them. We didn’t do that for our wedding…we didn’t even have guests or a reception or anything. You make an excellent point. 

    • avatar mjd4 says:

      Kate, I’m a little confused.  You say you do not like Margo’s response to LW1, and then proceed to say essentially what Margo said – that the marriage is pretty much over, and that the LW is not at fault.  

    • avatar A R says:

      “Raging hormones”? “Not in her right mind”? 
      I wish this sort of myth would not be perpetrated. Women are not automatically unreasonable, hormone-driven maniacs when pregnant. Many of us carried, gave birth, and managed to never once approach insanity, reckless behavior, or irrational action. Just because some ladies lose their  minds (apparently), not all do.

      • avatar Lila says:

        AR, yes, I much prefer perpetrating stories of pioneer women who would give birth somewhere out on the Oregon trail and then still manage to build a sod house or chop wood o