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Baggage Check: His time vs. her time

By Andrea BoniorBy 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: My husband makes time for what he wants to do: happy hours after work, golfing on the weekends, etc. He assumes I will pick up the slack with child care. If I ever want to go to brunch with friends or go shopping, however, he acts as though he’s burdened. I’m very frustrated that everything falls on me and that I’m the one who misses getting any personal time.

This can’t be solved without candid communication. (And it might still not be solved if he happens to be narcissistic or a golf addict, but communication is still your best bet.)

Depending on how strong the inertia of this imbalance is, and how much potential he has to take the initiative with child care, this could take a while. Tell him that you need more alone time to recharge, and that you’ve noticed he reacts better when such outings are planned in advance, so you’re going to draw up a schedule. Then get concrete. Whether it’s an hour-for-an-hour trade-off or a golf-for-shopping swap, the point is to make him more aware of just how much more time he’s getting and, more importantly, how much he takes you for granted.

Q: My sister has always resented me because she feels like our parents were easier on me than they were on her. That might be true in some ways, but she’s very abrasive and has a way of creating drama. She never takes responsibility for her role in things. Recently, she said she wants to have a sit-down with our whole family to “hash things out.” I think this is ridiculous and told her that she needs to seek counseling on her own. Now she’s not speaking with me. I’m so mad at her, but I don’t know how to not feed into her drama.

Lashing out at your sister will only give her more material for her drama. (Now showing: “I’m the Victim!”)

Suggesting counseling to her was probably a great idea in theory, but she obviously heard it as a judgment that she’s flawed and as a refusal to collaborate with her. The word “ridiculous” probably didn’t help matters, if you used it. I must ask, what’s so wrong with the hash-out plan? Giving in to a little listening – with some boundaries that you set – might buy you some peace if she gets the chance to feel heard.

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