Ask Amy: Passengers party on plane for five hours

April 4, 2012

DEAR AMY: While on a transatlantic flight to the states from Europe recently, passengers across the aisle from us talked loudly and laughed for five of the seven hours of the flight.

Other friends of theirs stood in the aisle and contributed to the “fun,” blocking my view of the overhead video. The raucous laughter and chatter could not be drowned out by my earphones. Reading was impossible.

We will be taking a 15-hour flight soon, and I am already anxious about again being subjected to this thoughtless behavior. Other than spending $400 for noise abatement earphones, is there a polite way one could approach loud talkers to explain that their voices are driving me to distraction? -- Nervous Flier

DEAR NERVOUS: Tolerating something you find intolerable for five hours without even attempting to do something about it doesn’t make you a tolerant person — it makes you seem like a doormat.

You should assume that people are not aware of the imposition they are foisting upon you. The way to politely approach people who are bothering you is to imagine how you would like to be approached if the situation were reversed. A direct, clearly stated and polite appeal is not offensive. You can say, “Excuse me but could you please lower your voices — and do you think you could find a seat so I can see the monitor?”

The background noise on airplanes sometimes tempts people to speak loudly because they can’t actually hear themselves. At least that was my excuse on a recent flight when a fellow passenger asked me and my seat mate to please talk more quietly. We complied and apologized.

DEAR AMY: Years ago I had an affair, which I regret and am truly sorry for. I have made extreme efforts to show my husband that I am sorry and I can be trusted again.

The problem is he is now extremely insecure and is controlling. He does not like me wearing lipstick or eye shadow; he does not want me to have blond highlights in my hair, and he says all my clothes are too tight, low-cut or see-through, which is not true at all.

He insists I must always wear a belt, and often wants me to wear an extra shirt, in case someone sees an outline of my bra. He won’t let me wear the kind of underwear I like. I have never heard from anyone that I dress revealingly or inappropriately.

This has been an ongoing issue in our marriage for years, and I am getting tired of it. I went to counseling for a year and a half, by myself, because my husband refused to go.

I went along with his over-the-top demands out of guilt for a long time, but after years of this I think enough is enough. I’ve tried calmly talking; I’ve gotten angry and sad, and I’ve told him he treats me like a child. Nothing helps. How should I deal with this? -- Unrevealing Wife

DEAR UNREVEALING: Your husband’s unreasonable control over you means that you are both being held hostage to your affair. When he controls you in this way, he keeps the affair right in the center of your relationship.

What your husband doesn’t seem to grasp is that your attractiveness to other men is not the issue. His attempts to dictate your choices reflect his own panic, anger and insecurity.

I agree with you that if you see no change — and no effort to change — then enough is definitely enough.

DEAR AMY: “Stressed Out Bride” worried about inviting a co-worker who is a problem drinker to her wedding. I faced this, too — only the “problems” were my parents! I solved this by not serving alcohol at my wedding. We all had a great time, and nobody missed the booze in the slightest.

This bride needs to decide what is more important, serving alcohol or inviting her co-worker. Excluding this co-worker could cause her problems well into the future. -- Smart Bride

DEAR SMART: I understand your choice but don’t think that one troublesome co-worker should dictate this couple’s plans.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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