DEAR AMY: My husband, although usually kind and good-willed, never follows through on his word. He will “pump up” an upcoming celebration with statements like, “It will be the best night of your life,” or “You’re going to love your birthday present,” or even, “I’m going to put so much effort into this!”
He has a way of pumping up his efforts, but when the big day arrives, there have been no plans, no gifts — no thought. I’m usually pretty good at holding back excitement now or kindly reminding him not to say something unless he follows through, but it continues.
The worst was our wedding. I had explained to him the tradition of the bride and groom exchanging small gifts before the wedding, and reminded him of simple but thoughtful ideas for me (a book, a card, flowers). It’s a tradition that is important to me since it forces a couple to sit back and be reminded of each other on such a busy day.
The big day came, and I gave him a very thoughtful gift but received nothing in return. I later asked why he hadn’t done anything when he knew I had something for him. His answer was simply: “Sorry, I guess I should have.” I would have been fine with no gift if we had agreed on that, or it wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t once again “pumped me up.”
Am I being too petty, or is there a way to kindly tell him to be more realistic with his celebrations? -- Irked Wife
DEAR IRKED: I feel for your husband. His intentions are great but he hasn’t mastered the art of managing expectations. Your wedding tradition was what you wanted. You raised the stakes there, and he responded with passive aggression or simple performance anxiety and paralysis. And then you let him know he failed you. On your wedding day.
I feel for you too. You’re always having to modulate your expectations and then manage your disappointment (and correct him).
Your husband’s gift to you is in the sheer grandiosity of his intentions. That’s his gift. Accept this. Then look to the small things he does well, and appreciate these gestures as grand declarations of love.
The next time he raises the stakes, look into his eyes, and say, “Take the pressure off, honey. Take a breath. I love you just as you are. Don’t shoot the moon. Let’s keep things simple.”
DEAR AMY: My mother has expressed her disappointment in not receiving any acknowledgment of gifts she sends her daughter-in-law. Besides being rude not to thank someone for a gift, she also doesn’t know the gift has even been received (they are usually shipped/mailed) until she eventually asks about it.
I’ve told her to talk to her son about it, but I know she won’t. Should I talk to my brother about it? I’m considering talking to him about it from my point of view as I’ve also just sent a gift that received no acknowledgment. Thoughts? -- Sister
DEAR SISTER: If these gifts are for the couple — or their children — then don’t only blame the daughter-in-law. Your mother’s inability to speak to her own son about this means that he is totally off the hook.
Because this has also happened to you, give your brother a nudge. Tell him, “It’s embarrassing and frustrating to send gifts to you guys and never know if you’ve even received them. Could you please pick up the phone, send an e-mail or a note to let us know you’ve received something? I would really appreciate it.”
DEAR AMY: I’ve worked in an office for some time with an associate who is constantly coughing or clearing his throat. I am up to my eyeballs in sniffles, ahems and hacks.
I believe some of these behaviors are personal tics and not colds. What can I do besides offer a tissue? -- Coughed Out
DEAR COUGHED: You cannot cure or change someone else’s tics. But you can train yourself to tolerate them. I prescribe an “office ommmm.”
Distributed by Tribune Media Services