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A 'wonderful partner' would want to share a cozy home

Even if you dislike sister-in-law, don't take her life personally

Q: My husband's sister makes me crazy. First she named her son after my husband, meaning the name is "taken" and we cannot use it if we have a son. Now, she has gone and bought her daughter a puppy for Christmas, of the same breed we've been talking about getting for years once our beloved dog passes. I know these things are not a big deal, but I can't help but feel like she keeps trying to beat us to the punch! Do I say anything to her or just remain silently frustrated?

D.C.

A: I'm going for (C) Get a hold of yourself.

A woman named her child after her brother? That's not only common and perfectly acceptable, but also really kind of sweet. And if you want to use that name for your kid, then, have at it. They'd hardly be the first pair of cousins with the same family name.

I don't even know what to do with the dog breed thing. Laugh? Cry? Laugh harder?

You're certainly free to dislike your sister-in-law, or find her annoying, or feel a little frustrated that your life won't score any originality points. And if you can come up with a half-dozen more (and more credible) examples that support your notion that she's somehow bent on scooping you, then I'll humbly and apologetically reconsider.

But from here, it looks like you're taking a routine dislike of someone, and blaming her for it. You're taking her life personally. I can't help but think that if you liked her, you'd have been touched by the name, and eager to take credit for the dog.

Scratch yourself from the race, please, because there is no race. Reducing your extended family life to one says little about her, and quite a lot about you.

A 'wonderful partner' would want to share a cozy home

Q: I'm a 30-year-old who has a wonderful partner of five years. We've lived together for four. My problem is I don't like living with him anymore. Now that I have some disposable income I want to decorate; I want my home to be clean and inviting. My partner thinks a house is a storage locker and a place to sleep. He gives me a hard time for spending (my own) money on decorating or furniture.

I'd be perfectly happy to live in a duplex with him. Our own space but close together. I could invite him to sleep over. It would be sexy. He hates this idea and feels insulted and unloved. I do love him, but I think living in the same space is killing our relationship. Any thoughts?

S.

A: "Insulted and unloved" — was that a direct quote from him?

Because it isn't much of a stretch for me to imagine how you feel when he gives you a "hard time" for spending your own money on things you care about: insulted and unloved.

If he is indeed a "wonderful partner" — so much hinges on the accuracy of your word choices, doesn't it? — then he'll realize that supporting what's important to you (your freedom to nest), will yield what's important to him (sharing that nest with you). Connect the dots back to his own words, and see if the picture is clear: wonderful partner, or not?

A 'wonderful partner' would want to share a cozy home 01/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:33am]
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