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Q. In the chaos of getting the kids home after school and making dinner, my husband and I are two ships passing in the night, checking things off a list. I ask about his day but he never asks about mine. When I bring this up he says we always end up talking about it anyway, and it’s not usually a good time when I want him to ask. I feel silly but this really bothers me. —I Just Need It
Ahh, the battle between the “Niceties are nice to hear, even if they’re fluff” faction versus the “Empty words are making me late and killing my soul” crowds. (Almost as bloody as the “Is Valentine’s Day just a scam?” battles.)
If he’s got problems with “How was your day?” then he can tweak it to better represent the fact that he’s not in a place to hear a 10-minute narrative about that disastrous meeting while he’s draining the spaghetti and you’re telling the kids to do their homework. Help him see that what you crave is connection, not particular phrases. Work together to find alternate ways to connect during that time: extra physical contact, an “I look forward to hearing about your day later,” or a “You look happy! Makes me happy too.” He can do these within his own personal style. The key is for him to give a little.
He’s failing my baby test
Q. My sister recently had a baby, who I am crazy about. I am getting more serious with my boyfriend and assumed we would spend a lot of time with my nephew. I imagined my boyfriend and I could baby-sit together; I saw this as a dry run for us perhaps having kids someday. He shows no interest in even coming with me to visit my nephew. He says he’s “not good with babies.” Are guys just this way? I am disappointed and rethinking everything. —What Gives?
So, right now he’s not good with babies. More important is: Does he want to be? There are plenty of understandable reasons why one’s boyfriend wouldn’t be running to swaddle one’s girlfriend’s sister’s newborn — intimidation and not wanting to intrude among them — and there’s no use (or fairness!) in making assumptions without talking to him. But there’s a big spectrum between being uncomfortable with babies and thereby needing some time to warm up, versus having zero interest in your new family member and not ever wanting to relate at all to that swath of the population.
Have you actually ever talked about whether he wants a family someday? How is he with your sister in general? If you and he continue to get more serious, would he begin to develop a relationship with this kid? That’s what you need to find out.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at email@example.com. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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