My husband recently retired from the military. We have four school-age children. The youngest is starting kindergarten, and I would like to go back to work and finally use my college degree. My husband wants to take a job overseas, but I would likely be unable to work due to the language barrier.

I want to settle down in a location I love, doing a job I love. My husband worked hard to get this job, and I hate to discourage him. I didn't realize I would feel so strong about settling down until recently. I don't want to move, and he doesn't want to give up this job.

He suggested we live separately. Our marriage is otherwise happy, and due to the military, we have had a long-distance marriage many times before, just not for as long as this would be. Should I try moving overseas?

- Wants to Settle Down

DEAR WANTS TO SETTLE DOWN: Yes, for the sake of your marriage, I think you should. And when you're there, explore finding a way to put to use the degree you worked so hard to attain. The experience of living in a foreign country would be good for your children, and you might enjoy the adventure yourself. If that's not the case, you can always return to the U.S. and see if a bicontinental marriage works for you.

Hospital-stay hygiene


I am writing this as I sit in a hospital at my daughter's bedside. When staff comes into her room, she asks them to wash their hands in front of her before putting on their gloves. Several doctors took offense at this. We even posted a note on the door, asking the staff to wash up inside the room. Were we wrong? She doesn't want to increase her risk of infection. I would think that a patient worried about proper hygiene would not be sneered at by the people trying to get her healthy.

- Trying to Stay Healthy

DEAR TRYING TO STAY HEALTHY: Bravo to you for speaking up. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital-acquired infections have cost the industry $30 billion and resulted in 100,000 patient deaths. A 2013 New York Times article reported that, unless pushed to do so, hospital workers wash their hands as little as 30 percent of the time they interact with patients. The problem is so widespread that some hospitals must monitor workers via video cameras or have them wear electronic badges to "encourage" compliance, while others have resorted to "bribing" workers to do the right thing.

You were not wrong to ask staffers at your daughter's hospital to wash their hands. Nobody should feel reluctant to ask for something that is standard procedure.

Because many patients in hospitals and care facilities feel vulnerable and dependent, they fear that staff will "dislike" them if they ask for too much. For patients to request handwashing is in not only their best interest, but also the hospital's. Too often, change doesn't happen in the medical profession until patients speak up and advocate for their own well-being. You would not have been "sneered at" if your request hadn't made those individuals feel defensive.

Separate check please


When dining out with a group, when is the proper time to ask for separate checks? Before ordering or after the dinner is over?

- Before or After

DEAR B. OR A.: Because you are with a group, it would make more sense to inform your server before he or she starts taking your orders.