By PHILIP GALANES
My husband is a pretty smart guy. But sometimes when I tell him things — about good friends or articles I’ve read — he stays silent. When we were dating, this bothered me, so I asked him about it. He said, “There’s nothing to say if a subject doesn’t interest me.” I thought he was being a jerk. Then I discovered his parents do the same thing. Now, five years into our marriage, I’ve started doing this to him. But it feels wrong to me. Any advice?
When we adopted our dog, we hired a trainer to come over to give us some pointers. She adamantly opposed the pup’s frisking down the hall to excitedly greet us at the door. We knew we had the wrong trainer. Who wants a dog that ignores you? The same applies to your husband. Good partners are reasonably and dependably available on issues that count. Why else marry them?
Now, not every story demands your husband’s attention. I learned ages ago that if I wanted to chat about whether the creators of “Anne With an E” (the “Anne of Green Gables” remake on Netflix) had intentionally echoed the title of “Liza With a Z” to show what a drama queen Anne is, my husband is the wrong guy to go to. But if I’m having trouble with a friend or want his take on something that matters, he’s right there. Any good partner would be.
Scads of mail will flow in telling me that you have waited too long to change ingrained behavior. Nevertheless, I persist. On matters of great and trifling import to you, start with: “Honey, I’d love your opinion on this.” And speak with him about your expectations. When you accidentally tell a story about Liza Minnelli, ask him to say: “I’m not sure what to make of that.” Even if he isn’t, there’s no call for ignoring you. That’s just rude. (And I couldn’t care less that his parents do it. You aren’t married to them.)
I just hung up the phone with my BFF, who told me (in response to my complaint that she blows off plans with me every time a guy asks her to hang out) that she thinks I resent her because she’s better looking than I am. Honestly, this had never occurred to me, and I’m not even sure it’s true. What would you do?
Find a new BFF. I get people who become defensive when they feel criticized. (I am such a person.) But the fact that yours went straight to her (probably) well-worn yardstick of relative beauty as justification for ditching you seems like seriously non-BFF behavior. She reminds me of Kelly LeBrock in those odious old ads for Pantene shampoo: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” To which my BFF and I screamed at the TV in unison: “Too late!”
I am about to return to work after a six-month medical leave that included two hospitalizations and a long recovery. I have worked at the same company for decades. I knew isolation would be a problem for me. So before leaving, I asked several friends from work if we could get together for coffee as soon as I was up to it. They said yes, but none of them followed through. I can’t help feeling bitter. They will all be happy to see me back at work, but I don’t know how to relate to them anymore. Advice?
Many of us have made friends at work. And many more of us have convinced ourselves that we are great pals with colleagues because … well, we sit next to them for eight hours a day. (Actually, we are paid to. So, it’s hard to know whether we are really friends until one of us leaves the office.)
But I’m not sure that explanation applies here. It sounds as if you never made an overture to your friends once you were sufficiently recovered for coffee dates. Rather than growing quietly furious at their neglect, it would have been more productive to simply make a call. How were they to know you were well enough? Yes, it is lovely when people dote. But these people have lives, too. And you were the one who wanted company, correct?
I hosted a baby shower for my stepdaughter. Many guests traveled long distances to attend and brought elaborate gifts. That was three months ago. But still, not a single thank-you note has been mailed. When asked about their status, she gives a completion date that comes and goes. I am opposed to planning future events for her because of this breach of etiquette. Please advise.
Withholding future events is 100 percent your prerogative. But unless my math is off, there is probably a six- to eight-pound elephant in the room — a newborn baby — who may be taking up a bit of your stepdaughter’s time. (I hear they’re selfish creatures.) If these notes are so critical to you, why not offer to help with them?