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Carolyn Hax: A husband’s put off by his wife’s procrastination

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: A rare and coveted job — higher salary, growth potential, interesting work — opened at my wife's office, and she was told it was hers if she just submitted the formal application. Wife struggles with procrastination so I tried to be helpful: "Want me to take the kids to the movies so you can work on application in peace? Skip my work dinner and proofread your résumé?" She assured me she was on top of it.

She wasn't. She didn't open the job link until an hour before the hard deadline, at which point she learned the instructions were more extensive than anticipated. The clock ran out before she could finish.

Wife is sad and disappointed. I feel terrible for her. But I'm also really angry she torpedoed her career like this, especially when the benefits for our family seemed so tangible and accessible. It's taking every bone in my body to not scream I TOLD YOU SO, WHY DIDN'T YOU LISTEN TO ME? What should I do?

— Witness to Self-Sabotage

Witness to Self-Sabotage: Is it possible the procrastination is linked to anxiety? And by extension, is it possible her putting off the application was some manifestation of her not actually wanting the new position?

It’s something to consider, at least; you might learn a lot by reflecting on other things she has and hasn’t applied herself to and looking for patterns.

Sometimes you’ll see someone who normally procrastinates suddenly acquire all kinds of focus and direction, and it happens to be something she really wants, enjoys, feels confident doing. It’s almost like internal passive aggression, where you resist the inner voice telling you what you “should” do by just shutting down and not doing whatever it is.

Your wife might also find it useful to get screened for ADD/ADHD. A lot of adults have it and have never been diagnosed — or even considered the need to be — because their school years were behind them well before such a diagnosis existed.

Dear Carolyn: Several months ago, I was placing an order through my Amazon Prime account and a co-worker asked if she could order some things as well. Since I had my items coming to the office, I said it was fine for her to add some things to my order — at least it would save on the number of boxes coming to the same location.

Now she regularly asks to use my account so she can get the free two-day shipping. A one-off when I was ordering something as well seemed fine to me, but now I feel like she's taking advantage and I'm enabling her to cheat the company. Having allowed it, though, how do I put a stop to her use of my membership?

— Primed

Primed: You say: “This was fine for a shipment or two, but I’m not comfortable with it as a regular thing.” Because choosing not to let people take advantage of you is something you’re allowed to do. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

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