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Don't ignore your gut just to save face

Dear Amy: Recently, I was in a public restroom at a large convention center in an area where no one else was around.

When I entered the restroom, a gentleman came out of the stall.

I was rather uncomfortable and was about to blurt out, “Excuse me, but this is a ladies room.”

But then it occurred to me that this person might just be a very masculine-looking woman.

He or she was wearing a baseball cap and very manly clothing.

I stopped myself because I did not want to be insulting, but I was also uncomfortable and nervous.

I don't care if the person was transsexual, but if it was in fact a man, I would have felt very unsafe.

What should I do if such a thing happens again in the future?

– Catherine in Chicago

Dear Catherine: First, I need to note that it is not a good idea to use a public facility in a large place where nobody is around.

I realize that when you have to go, you have to go, but in the future you should seek out an area that is well-traveled.

When you enter any enclosed space, whether a restroom or elevator, follow your instincts.

If any person makes you uncomfortable – for whatever reason – you should simply exit. You don't have to say anything; just leave.

I once heard a security expert say that women's fear of embarrassing or insulting someone else makes us extremely vulnerable.

That fear of embarrassing someone is why we talk ourselves out of following our gut instincts.

If you think a man is in the ladies room, tell security personnel.

If the person is in fact a woman, a security person can face the consequences of the misunderstanding.

My choice: Spouse or kids

Dear Amy: I've been thinking about the letter from a woman who wants to have a child but her husband doesn't. Twenty-two years ago I was in the same situation.

I married a man and we both agreed we never wanted children. We were both just 23.

As the years went by, I realized that I did indeed want children, but he never wavered.

I steeled myself to never ask for his help with the baby and to continue to work full-time so he wouldn't have to support the child. I tried to convince him how great it would be.

After years of this, I had to make a choice – either I would have him and no baby, or I would have to find someone else who wanted children with me. It was gut-wrenching.

In the end, we divorced over this issue.

Then I found someone who wanted to have children with me, and I now have three beautiful sons who define my life.

My advice to this other woman is: Don't force this man to have children with you. You need someone who wants it as badly as you do. Parenting is the toughest job in the world, and you need to be a team.

– Mom at Last

Dear Mom: I can think of no other issue between a couple that would be more challenging than this one.

The desire to have a child hits some people out of the blue.

It is powerful and sometimes painful, as it causes couples to rethink their futures.

Even when couples agree over the basic fact of having children, actually raising them is a sport and an art.

You are lucky that your desire has netted such joy – and that you have found someone who wanted to share it with you.