Sunday, May 20, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Keeping the peace doesn't solve the problem

Amiable is overrated; seek instead to be true to yourself

Q: I am guilty of occasionally resenting my boyfriend because he doesn't take it well when I say no. He pouts when I tell him I want to do something other than what he wants — like going to the grocery store instead of out to dinner.

Generally I give in, but if I insist that groceries must be bought, he stops speaking to me and leaves abruptly. Over the years I have tried to ignore the pouting, but I am basically a peacekeeper, and want to know if there is a more amiable way to defuse the tension.

How to Say No

A: "Over the years" you've apparently conducted an extensive trial of an "amiable way" to differ from your boyfriend, a trial that prompts me to snark, how's that working for you?

The way to say no is with the conviction that you have every right to say no. Period. The best peacekeepers aren't the softest ones at the table; they're the ones who are open to other viewpoints while letting others know there are lines they cannot cross.

It's helpful when the person you're saying no to has a 100 percent chance of surviving the disappointment of not going out to dinner that night. Helpful — not necessary.

So, stop treating your boyfriend's good mood as your goal, and replace it with the goal of being true to yourself, be it over something as minor as grocery shopping or as major as the way you handle money or raise children. Reflecting your true needs, wants and motives — even in coming to a compromise — is the only way to live honestly. That, in turn, is the only way to get a relationship to work without bleeding one of you dry.

What he needs, meanwhile, is for people to air their resentment of him before it's too late for him to make amends. I've filled columns on the ills of the silent treatment, but I'll condense here: It invalidates you. Tolerate it, and you invalidate yourself.

So, give him a chance to see and fix the problem. For example: "I'd like to be able to go buy milk without getting the silent treatment. Which would you rather have, my going along just to keep you from punishing me, or my occasionally doing something different from what you have in mind?" Then, greet any future tantrums as follows: (1) "Suit yourself." (2) Do nothing about the ensuing tension. Go about your business and let him find you if he wants to make nice.

Silence and pouting could be what he grew up with, and learning healthier ways could take a while, even with sure-handed companions who know how to be kind, judicious and firm in holding the line with him.

If you, meanwhile, were raised to seek conciliation at all costs, then breaking your self-defeating emotional habits might be too big a job for you to be the one who helps him break his.

You probably stand a better chance with the guidance of a good therapist, but please know that if your boyfriend doesn't see the problem with his huffing and puffing — if he shows zero willingness to hold himself accountable — then please see that there's no peace here to be kept. That is, not unless you break up.

Comments
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of May 21-27.

Kendrick Lamar: The Pulitzer Prize-winning hip-hop powerhouse leads The Championship Tour on Tuesday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, with fellow hit makers including SZA and Schoolboy Q. $35-$125. amphitheatretampa.com.Tampa Ba...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Tell Me About It: The kids are welcome, but not the bedbugs

Q: My brother and his estranged wife have three children. I love all of them. They live out of state and send the kids to us for summers. There have always been hygiene issues, like not washing after wet beds, leaving faint urine smells on the kids.T...
Published: 05/17/18
Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

Plan your weekend May 18-20: Royal wedding watch parties, David Koechner, Fiesta Maxima, half off Dali admission

What's happening this weekend in Tampa Bay.
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld joins Busch Gardens in offering free beer this summer

SeaWorld is joining its sister park, Busch Gardens, in offering free cups of beer this summer. Guests 21 and up can receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio in the park starting Friday through Sept. 2. T...
Published: 05/16/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

What’s in theaters: ‘Deadpool 2,’ ‘Book Club,’ a Pope Francis documentary and STEM movies

CinemaSTEM: Best in ShowTampa Theatre is making science, technology, engineering and math the star of its new CinemaSTEM movie series. The historic movie house will pair popular films with experts talking about some of the science that pops up in the...
Published: 05/16/18
Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

Top things to do this weekend: Royal wedding watch parties, comic David Koechner

ROYAL WEDDING: Watch partiesPrince Harry marries Meghan Markle on Saturday; guess how excited we are to put on a fancy hat and drink champagne cocktails at 6 a.m.? With royal wedding excitement at a fever pitch, St. Petersburg’s Hawthorne Bottle Shop...
Published: 05/16/18
Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

Top concert picks this week: Little Steven Van Zandt, Turnt Up Tour, Fiesta Maxima

E STREET BYPASS: Little Steven and the Disciples of SoulAsk Little Steven Van Zandt to pick his favorite songwriter in rock — excluding his boss Bruce Springsteen, of course — and he has to think a minute. He admires veterans like Billie Joe Armstron...
Published: 05/16/18
5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

5 things to do under $5: Bike to Work Day, Woofstock, Leonard Bernstein celebration

1Bike to Work Day: If you’re too nervous to face Tampa streets on your own, seven neighborhood meetup locations have been set up in South Tampa, Ybor and Tampa Heights for a Friday morning ride with experienced cyclists. Leaving at about 7:10 a.m., t...
Published: 05/16/18
Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

Kendrick Lamar and the Pulitzer Prize: Here’s why he’s the best songwriter alive

He won. He actually won. It’s still hard to believe a month later, still a mouthful of joy to say aloud: "Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar." After three Album of the Year Grammy losses in five years, most recently to Bruno Mars in Februar...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Tell Me About It: Sons guilt trip parents for refusing to move

Q: My husband and I, 68 and 61, were thrilled to become grandparents two years ago. We are enjoying our first years of carefully planned retirement in our home on the East Coast.The problem is our sons, who live in two of the most expensive real esta...
Published: 05/15/18