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Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s question: What about your faith makes you despair?

Q: You know that nice, sweet voice that most people use to talk to babies and young children? I don’t have it. And I have two children. My mom friends good-naturedly tease me about it, but I can tell they think it’s strange. It started off that I just don’t do baby talk, but now I notice people look at me funny when I talk to my kids. I just am who I am. Is this bad?

Q: I can’t shake the feeling that I’m not “normal” in terms of my thoughts. The most bizarre, bothersome things pop into my head. I consider myself a good person, and an intelligent person. I’ve never struggled with mental health issues. But sometimes I think my mind is trying to get at me, and wonder if this is the beginning of something worrisome.

Q: A friend is always inviting a group of us over, but making us do virtually everything. Not only is it typically potluck, but she usually contributes nothing, saying “since I’m the host.” When we arrive she’s usually vacuuming or something and asks if we would mind lending a hand – she even had one of us wiping down her bathroom. How do we stop this?

Your sister is attempting to coerce you into supporting something you don’t think is right, and threatening to use children as pawns to get her way. That’s a big ol’ sandwich of wrong.

Q: Our co-worker is a narcissist. In any conversation, he immediately jumps in to talk about himself. Needless to say, we are all exhausted. We believe that this is a part of who he is, so we’re having problems balancing being good people toward him and maintaining our sanity. How can we handle this situation in a way that is best for everyone?

Q: How can a couple survive a fundamental mismatch in energy levels? My boyfriend is always up early, singing and going for a run. On vacation, he wants to find an outing while I just want my tropical drink and a lounge chair. He says he loves me for who I am – and I’m happy with my physical body and so is he. But I feel sometimes like I slow him down.

Q: My husband has become very involved in online message boards, to the point that it’s all he talks about. There is a woman on several of these boards with him. She lives across the country, but I know they Skype a lot. He doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, but I don’t want to have this intrusion into my marriage.

Q: My boyfriend’s mother gives us a refrigerator’s worth of food every time we visit. She’s a good cook, but it bothers me that she thinks that we can’t fend for ourselves. My boyfriend says we’d be nuts to turn it down – we both work long hours and it is a help. But I feel like it’s part of a larger pattern of her seeing us as just kids.

Figure out what you want, then be strong enough to do it.

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Andrea Bonior
Andrea Bonior (that's BONN-yer!) is a licensed clinical psychologist, professor, and writer. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology focusing on individual and group psychotherapy for young adults and specializing in the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.
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