Don’t squelch wife’s aspirations

Q: My wife is obsessed with turning her hobby into a job. She does graphic design, but doesn’t have a degree in it and has been home with our kids for a few years. She has designed things for friends of ours who have egged her on to start offering her services on Etsy, etc. It has become all she talks about, and I think she has unrealistically high hopes of making this a career. How do I let her down easily?

A: It’s not up to you to temper her hopes. Let that duty belong to the first annoying customer who refuses to pay unless the shade of teal is changed six times. Or maybe they won’t let her down, either, in which case, this is a great thing! She’s got a skill that she’s interested in doing more with, and she’s excited about it.

She’s been doing the heavy lifting of daily child care for years – which can be exhausting, isolating, exhilarating and boring. (All in one morning!) Let her have this. And let her know that it will be a good thing if it makes her happy, even if she never makes much of a profit. Now, can you bring yourself to believe that?

Q: A couple of co-workers and I go to the office cafeteria every morning. I’ve noticed that one of my co-workers grabs food and exits without paying. Nobody else has seen it. I’ve tried to have another co-worker with me to catch her in the act, but she manages to disappear. I’m afraid to confront this person because I don’t want to come off the wrong way, and I don’t want to make things awkward between us. What should I do?

A: You don’t want to come off as a person who feels that theft shouldn’t just be another day at the office? Things are already awkward between you – she created that by, um, stealing in your presence. And it is quite possible that your co-workers have noticed but are similarly paralyzed.

So be the backbone here. But don’t try to create a sting operation – it shouldn’t be your job to police her. Plus, she’s obviously quite practiced in evasion. If you can’t find it within yourself to pick a private time to confront her, then leave her an anonymous note that says, “I’ve noticed that you’ve made a habit of not paying at the cafeteria. Please stop, as it is stealing from our company.”