Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Question: You warned a writer with a controlling husband against couple's therapy, suggesting that a controller could take advantage even in that setting. But isn't a good therapist supposed to be able to handle and see through that kind of behavior?

I ask because I have similar issues with my partner, although perhaps not severe, and my own therapist is recommending couple's therapy with a different therapist. I don't feel that our issues can be addressed any other way.

Answer: Everyone's situation is different; perhaps your therapist believes the control issues aren't severe enough for you to be at risk. Certainly ask this question in your next session, before you proceed either way.

That said, a skilled manipulator can be quite persuasive - plus, I'd be wary of a professional who was so certain of his or her skills as to believe she/he couldn't be fooled. Hubris generally does not serve people well on any job.

Also, you don't need to take my word for this. The National Domestic Violence Hotline website covers it: http://bit.ly/HotlineDont.

Revisit this with your therapist, consider a second opinion - and give some careful thought to whether being controlled to any degree is something you want out of life.

Question: I am a relatively new mom, and I'd love your wisdom on seeking friendship as a mom. I find it tough tackling mom groups and making new friends as a talkative introvert. In an effort to meet more moms and socialize, I have formed a local neighborhood mom group for weekend walks to the park, and I signed up my daughter for swim classes.

However, I still struggle with forging closer relationships with other moms because the conversation always revolves around the kids, or we don't have time to get together sans children. I would love your ideas for where to meet other moms, and whether I am being impatient in this new chapter in my life.

Answer: Wait - you're a mom?

You sound impatient, yes, but I'm a complete slug and probably wouldn't even show up for the mom group, much less form one, even while feeling just as starved for friendship as you are. So take me with more than the usual grain of salt.

The less needy your kids become as they get older, the more energy (and general selfhood) you'll have to contribute to the process of making friends. Plus, not having a kid strapped to your chest helps with not talking about kids.

Comment: The new mom used the word mom eight times. I suggest she focus on non-mom things (books, clubs, sports, parks, church, animals, people in need) for the few hours per week she might have free. I've had good luck making friends with women of all ages outside the toddler-mom cloud of frantic exhaustion.

Reply: True - seeking only new moms is a strange way to get away from talking too much about kids.

Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.