Q: My husband’s boss seems to have a vendetta against him. He always came home from work miserable, but now she’s throwing assignments at him at all hours of the day, making my husband scramble even when he’s supposed to be off the clock. He’s been taking it out on our teenage son, and making our lives miserable. My husband says she might be leaving, so he wants to stay put. But he’s said this for years!
A: Your husband’s boss may (unfortunately) get to decide what is acceptable within their relationship, but you get to have at least a 50 percent say in what is acceptable within your household. I understand his inertia, but at some point the wait becomes too long. Pick a calm time to convey to him that his job is becoming toxic to your family and could permanently damage his relationship with your son. Say that you need to come to an agreement about some concrete parameters: a date by which he'll start looking elsewhere, or a specific plan at work to make things tolerable – almost anything, as long as it’s progress.
Q: My buddy’s girlfriend is awful. She is shallow, ignorant and I think is just after him for his money. He’s a shy guy and has not had a lot of luck with women, and I’m positive he is being taken advantage of. But I don’t know how to bring it up without causing problems between us.
A: Well, it might cause problems. But good friendships sometimes need to undergo strain if it’s in the best interest of one of the parties. But is it? Might he be able to figure this out on his own, despite his lack of experience? Plus, you don’t want it to seem like you think a woman would be interested in him only for his money. If you still feel something needs to be said, keep it gentle, and leave room for doubt. Find one good thing about her (maybe she plays the ukulele?) and go from there: “Hey, Julia is charming. She seems kind of into material stuff, though, huh?”
Q: I’ve just discovered that my boyfriend of six years cheated on me. He says he loves me and that the other girls meant nothing. But he has done nothing to help us through this other than apologize. I’m torn as to whether I should trust him again. While I’ve been through hell, I still love him. I want to be sure before I decide I’ve wasted six years of my life.
A: Whether you wasted six years of your life is not dependent on whether you stay with him. It’s about what you make of this experience. Even if you leave, you can take something from the relationship – strength, increased self-esteem or clarity. Nothing in your letter tells me that he’s on the road to making changes; his effort is going into making excuses. Who do you want to be with – someone who puts you through “hell” or the possible men behind doors No. 2 through 2 billion?