She has good intentions, but is the bossiness really helping?

She has good intentions, but is the bossiness really helping?

Q: What to do when you recognize controlling traits in yourself? I'm not mean, I don't yell and I don't make loaded "jokes," but I tend to drop many hints about healthy eating and going to the gym and laying off the TV whenever my S.O. doesn't do these things, because his family is all overweight, they have serious health problems, etc. I get worried my S.O. will become like that too . . . so I get totally irritating and out of line. How to stop?

Va.

A: You do two things you already know are difficult:

(1) You override your hint impulse and say what you mean ("I'm worried that your eating habits are killing you") — or bite your tongue. If you're not sure which route to take, one tiebreaker can be to ask yourself whether you'd appreciate his making such comments to you. It's long, but works pretty well as a mantra: If it's worth saying, it's worth saying it straight.

(2) You accept that grown men and women are the ones who decide what they eat and watch.

You, for your part, had choices of your own — including whether to commit to someone who has bad habits and family health history. You also get to decide whether to stay, and (this is big) whether your irritating hint-drops have helped his health, his confidence or your relationship even remotely.

Think about it. Have your efforts changed his habits? So often, people justify their controlling tendencies as a choice: Do something, or watch your loved one die. So often, though, it's a false choice, where the real choice is: Enjoy your mate while you can, or nag your mate while you can.

In other words, his habits may well be shortening his life, but if your hints do nothing to prolong it, then an attitude change is in order. You buy and cook and order only healthy foods, you invite him to join you in your active lifestyle, and you understand that he'll do with these as he chooses. Let go, and love. Another mantra to try.

To make it work, boyfriend needs to start organizing life

Q: I have had a pretty great boyfriend for six years. With one problem: He is dreadfully behind on his taxes. I mean, many, many years of not filing. It's not because he doesn't have the money. Rather, he can't organize himself to file his back taxes.

And yes, it impacts me: We can't buy a house together or get married because I am afraid to commingle funds with him.

How stupid am I being? Will he ever get to this? (He keeps saying "This is the year.") I keep referring him to good accountants, offering to help him myself, etc. Help.

Am I Back in the "Man-Fixing" Hole?

A: I was mentally composing an answer, and then I read your signature. Yes, you're back in the hole. If this weren't a pattern, then your math would be simple: Does he bring you enough joy to make it a privilege and pleasure to be (or hire) his life organizer?

But a pattern means you've rationalized problems before, which means you approach the "privilege and pleasure" assessment with fierce skepticism. Either you both throw yourselves, without reservations, into addressing his life chaos, or this project's not leaving the shop.

She has good intentions, but is the bossiness really helping? 03/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 3, 2009 11:12pm]

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