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Baggage Check: Frustrated employee; one couple but two views

By Andrea Bonior
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.

Q: Can you explain to me why a grown woman (my boss) would be such a drama queen about everything? If she has a bad day, everyone has to have a bad day. If she has to take a sick day, it’s a major crisis. If even small changes get made in how she thought things were supposed to go, she can’t deal. How can I stop the insanity?

Psychologists can’t analyze people from this many degrees away (as Kevin Bacon breathes a sigh of relief), so I don’t have answers for why she’s like that.

But I can urge you to work on controlling what you can control, and it’s not her. Develop coping strategies to manage your anxiety: a mantra, a walk around the block, a visit to that sarcastic co-worker’s cube, a favorite song on your headphones or a few moments of meditation or yoga (yes, there are office-appropriate poses). The less affected you are by her antics, the less she gets the earthquakes she’s looking for.

Of course, she won’t completely change unless she chooses to. But you can keep her from poisoning your day, and therefore lessen her impact on the workplace.

Q: I’m finding that my boyfriend and I have very different values. I had a conservative upbringing, and I’m very “rigid” about a lot of things, according to him – my views about sexual things, drinking, drugs, gender roles, etc. I respect him and his views and appreciate how open-minded he is. But I am not that. He’s always joked that he will “loosen me up,” but now that we’re talking about marriage, I wonder if we will always butt heads.

That depends on what butting heads looks like. Conflicting values don’t have to be a bad thing. What counts is how you handle them. Before you consider marriage, you must move from thinking about your different values hypothetically to more practically. For instance, right now, your night-and-day perspectives might be cute. But will you let your 13-year-old have a sip of beer? Will you give condoms to your 16-year-old? It’s not that you need a spreadsheet committing to these exact decisions. But you need to have an idea of where the common ground is, and how you’ll reach decisions together.

Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist, is the author of “The Friendship Fix.”
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