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Determine what's really bothering you

Decide what's really bothering you

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Green-Eyed Monster: My boyfriend is on the verge of taking a really good job with his dad's new company (better money, position, perks), and although I feel supportive of him, I also can't help but feel jealous. We're both in the same industry and have been at about the same career level for a while.

Is it normal to feel jealous of your partner, whom you love dearly? I struggle really hard to squash it, but I can't help feeling this job will bring him so far ahead that our lifestyles might no longer be compatible (e.g., if he wants to do expensive things I can't afford).

I'm also not a big fan of his parents and think it's a mistake to take a job with his dad — they are already very involved with his life, and I panic when I think this is yet another part of his life they can now interfere in. What's wrong with me? I really think I should just be happy and supportive.

CAROLYN: So — which is it? Is this job offer bad for him, or bad for you?

Certainly loving someone means wanting the best for him. But if it comes at your expense, then it's normal to be apprehensive. It's also normal to feel resentful when anyone gets handed something that you can only achieve through hard work.

I wonder, though. Is the problem solved if your boyfriend declines the job? His parents will still be his parents, and he will still allow them to be too involved. Maybe the real issue is that your boyfriend is not who you thought (or wanted to believe) he was. Maybe the job isn't the issue, but instead just the messenger here.

Accept your sister for who she is

Detroit: Our family reunion is coming up. We all get along great, except my sister finishes everyone's sentences and answers all questions, directed at her or not. I have tried to respond with loving jokes like "You sweet thing, you didn't have to go to all that effort. I was going to finish that sentence myself, honest," and "Okaaay, there's one answer. Dexter, what were you going to say?" But my family accuses me of being testy. That's just her way, they say. Well, finishing my own sentences is "just my way."

My family insists that I go along to get along, that it's only for a week, etc. They laugh her off in public, then complain bitterly later. My sister and I were estranged, but have grown very close via phone and e-mail, and this reunion week sets our progress back every time. How can we make good manners triumph over bad for a week?

CAROLYN: I'm with your family here. You're using these "loving jokes" to (unsuccessfully) mask genuine disgust, so they're neither loving nor jokes. You're angry.

Just because your sister's on the wrong side of good manners — and she is — doesn't mean you're automatically right, or that being right means you'll "triumph." You won't. Your family will gather, your sister will interrupt, you will seethe. Each element is as stubborn as the others.

The only change you can control is your own. If you want a different outcome this year, then you create it: accept, avoid, adapt. Pick one, two or all three.

Determine what's really bothering you 08/06/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 10:32am]
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