It's not the text, it's the marriage she should examine

It's not the text, it's the marriage she should examine

Q: I just found out my husband of 12 years has been texting a female co-worker in and out of work. I found out quite by accident. They were joking about the football pool. When I told him I don't think that's appropriate, he said I'm being ridiculous and he would have no problem with me texting other guys. I'm not a prude by any stretch, and I don't think I've ever been called ridiculous, so should I lighten up and get some texting buddies or what?

Burlington, Vt.

A: Absolutely, because tit-for-tat thinking is always so great for a marriage.

The problem with your problem is that the same facts can point in two completely different directions: the cheating direction, where joshing becomes flirting becomes more (a story as old as the office), and the clingy direction, where even the mildest interaction with the opposite sex brings on a wave of spousal distress.

In favor of your husband's take is the fact that they were joking about a football pool. Credible as collegial banter. In favor of your take is your husband's reaction. Even if he's right, calling you ridiculous — i.e., shifting the blame to you — was neither kind nor productive. Deflecting is too often the strategy of someone with something to hide. But, then, calling you ridiculous could also be a cry of desperation by someone who's tired of defending himself against charges of "inappropriate" behavior when he's being completely true to you while swapping stinkin' jokes with a stinkin' colleague.

If I've argued in a sufficient number of circles, then we're ready for the advice: Don't read his texts, read your own marriage. If he's loving and present, then that's the whole point. Don't lose it amid texting forensics.

If he's not loving and present, then don't lose that point in the texting drama, either. Instead, figure out why you're not the person he's texting for grins. Presumably you used to be attentive to each other, playful, engaged in a way beyond diamonds. Where that has gone and what you can do to re-engage him are the questions you'll need to face.

Mom sidesteps thank-you note battle between kids, aunt

Q: This is not an earth-shattering problem, but one I would like to address. My sister, almost 80 and with a history of being critical, very nicely(?) sends presents to my grown children and grandchildren. Their thank-yous are erratic, and she complains to me about not receiving responses.

I have told her my children are adults, have been raised to write thank-you notes, but it is no longer my job to tell them what to do. I suggested she either not send presents or accept that she may not get thanked. My daughter complains that every time she sees my sister, she is instantly met with accusations about not sending notes.

What is my role in this, if any?

Anonymous

A: Nonexistent!

Offering adults license to butt out is like handing out candy to kids. If you want to point out to your daughter, next time she complains, that writing thank-you notes is an easy way to get her aunt off her back, then go for it. (The gods of the obvious will thank you.) Otherwise, feel free to respond to everyone's complaints with "okay" and a hop to your subject of choice.

It's not the text, it's the marriage she should examine 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 4:23pm]

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