Archive for October, 2011

Unsportsmanlike Spouse

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

With a busy family of five, how did football games become one more thing I need to organize around?  How do I respect my husband’s hobby without flipping out?

Sidelined Spouse

Dear Un-Sporty Spouse,

I’d love to tell you there’s a magic wand you can wave and make your husband’s obsession with football simply fade away…but the reality is, just like gray hair, you can try to cover it and ignore it, but it’s still there and it’s not going anywhere!

I can’t tell you how many times my husband, Scooter, and I have battled over what I call the “ball sports”.  It’s an endless cycle of seasons in our house, one blending into the next.  Only two things change, the shape of the ball and the color of the jerseys.

Some husbands have 1 ball, most have 2, while Scoot has 3: foot, base and basket.  At times his commitment to a game is so annoying it makes me want to take my foot to his base and shove it in his basket!   So I’m right there with you sister!

Learn from my experience —  after tossing a ton of incomplete passes, I had to finally intercept myself and figure out a way to stop the unsportsmanlike conduct we were now both guilty of.

Your husband may be quarterback, but with a team of five under your leadership, you are no doubt the family referee.  So I suggest putting this into terms he can understand.   You’re going to have to tackle this issue head on.  Put on your best game face, in this case, makeup and a shirt in his team’s color.  Tell him he’s committing a relationship fumble and call a time out.  Ask him if you can have 90 seconds, the same amount of time a ref has to review a play, to toss an idea his way.

(If you want to get really fancy, put your hands together over your head, like you’re doing the King Tut dance and call my favorite play: the “safety” — not only will that get his attention, it will also impress him!)

During this time out, make sure you come to the chalkboard with your best plays, keeping them as simple and concise as possible.  Make sure you approach him with suggestions, not complaints, men hate complaints, and even that’s understating it.  Make it quick and brief, remember, you’re not looking for any penalties.

First, list the issue:

His needs:  watching sports

Your needs:  wanting him to spend time focused on you/family.

Here’s the solution I proposed to Scooter:

For every weekend day he’s unavailable to participate in being part of the family, because he’s parked on the couch with a bag of potato chips, I get to choose what we do that night.  If that means going to Chick-fil-A, then going to see a chick flick afterwards, than so be it.  It’s not a punishment, but rather a way we are both able to get our needs met.

The main thing Scooter needs to know:  that I agree to leave him alone and not bug him during his touchdown dance time.  The reason I can now do that:  because I have something to look forward to with him, where he will be mentally present.  Even thou our husbands are usually at home while watching their favorite teams, they’re checked out.  Honestly, I could put on something sexy and parade in front of the TV and he’d tell me I’m blocking his view.

This way, it becomes a win-win for both of us.  I even decided to take game day a step further and I suggest you do the same.

When the game is actually on, I recommend picking up the phone and calling your girlfriends, who are in similar sporty situations and asking if they’d like to go do something, like getting your nails done, shopping, eyebrow waxing – whatever.  Basically anything to get you out of the house and focused on something else while your side-kick is focused on the Falcons.

This has worked so well for me it’s now at the point where I look forward to having Scoot glued to the tube.  Since I’ve started making plans during the games, or as I call them “relationship blackout periods”, I’ve been able to get a lot done.  I grab a glass of wine with a couple girlfriends and even find the quiet time great for catching up on bills, emails and that endless pile of mail catalogs I feel compelled to completely peruse.

One of the best perks to this sports induced timeout – it happens to also be one of the safest time to hit the mall, because you know he’s not going to call and ask how much you’re spending!

Find a way to be his cheerleader – albeit from the sidelines of the nearest strip mall and your relationship will soon be headed for the play-offs.  While he finds himself in his own fantasy football league, you may just find yourself sporting a new pair of come-hither cleats of your own.

Just make sure you leave the frig stocked with plenty of beer, brats and BBQ chips – you don’t need a hungry man calling and interfering with your bargain hunting or brow grooming.

 

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Hold ’em or Fold ’em?

Posted on October 24, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

My best friend has been dating the same guy for nearly 4 years.  We all love him and love them together as a couple, however, my friend, who’s 34, wants to get married and start a family.  Her boyfriend says he wants the same thing, but has yet to pop the question.  She’s flat out told him want she wants, so it’s not a mystery.  She says she loves him and wants to marry him.  He says she’s the only girl for him.  I think she’s wasting time and a lot of us close to her are getting tired of rallying around this relationship.  I told her to move on and find someone else.  She’s a catch and it’s a crime she’s wasting time.  What do you think?

Concerned Compadre

Dear Compadre,

If I had bought a pair of shoes every time I heard this scenario, I’d have more than Imelda Marcos by now!

Over the years, I have come to believe, that when a woman finally reaches her breaking point, she’s done – capital D-O-N-E, which I have coined as Don’t Overlook Negative Energy…in this case, the stagnate suitor.  At this point, it doesn’t sound like your buddy is at that point yet.

On the flip side, when a man says he’s done, it’s not always so final.  For some crazy reason, guys think they can circle back on their white horse or in their silver Saab and sweep us off our feet.  Usually, when woman walk, they keep walking.  That’s because we stick it out, try everything short of duct tape to hold it together and hope for the best.  It’s only once we’re dog tired of being treated like a dog that we put on our Adidas and say adios!

I was your girlfriend at one point in my life.  On my 30th birthday, my boyfriend of 3 years and a couple of my best friends planned an elaborate celebration.  He was even dropping hints like this would be a significant birthday and I should expect something big.  After 36 months, I no doubt was!  In fact, we had talked about marriage and he knew it was time to make a move or I was moving on.

My besties made decorations out of my ugliest childhood pictures, my mom, Norma Jean flew into town, I even bought a bubblegum colored outfit – which screamed “birthday girl”, no wonder it was on the sale rack, at any rate, every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed.  I knew in my guy this was it – I was FINALLY getting a ring.  My mom, my friends, even the waiters at the restaurant thought that was the inevitable and exciting outcome.  In the end, the conniving Casanova not only asked every guest to pay for their own meal, but also presented me with a big shocker as well – a bunch of sparkly diamonds displayed on a weird white gold chain thingy.  Not to be deterred from what my mind had been prepared for, I asked him:  “How am I supposed to wear that as a ring???”  He looked shocked, like he had just received a call from the IRS.  He had a taxing issue all right, me, N.J. and an entire room of folks who now considered him a frenemy.

I was so mad I could have spit fire – good thing I’d had already blown out the candles on the cake…although it would have been nice to know before hand, because I wasted a perfectly good birthday wish on a guy who turned out to be a perfect zero.

The next day I woke-up hoping it was a bad dream – but alas, still no ring, just a migraine.  It took 2 Motrin to get rid of the headache, but nothing could get rid of my disappointment.  Three years of my life, not to mention, some the best looking years too – that’s the sweet spot where you start to find your style and still look good without botox – all down the drain!

Although he wanted to keep moving on with the relationship like nothing happened, I just couldn’t do it.  I was finally D-O-N-E.

There have been three of these moments in my life, which were ironically attached to the only three migraines I’ve ever had as well.  I’ve come to realize migraines are my cue to exit.  It’s my body signaling to my tiny brain that I need to move on…from my first marriage, the aforementioned beau and my former fiance.  1-2-3…D-O-N-E!

Your friend will have to figure out her own signal.  Unfortunately, that’s not something anyone can really help her with.  She needs to hit a super low point with this partner to be able to part with him.  When the reality hits, it will likely hit her hard.  For example, I wasn’t just pissed my former flame let me down, I was also beyond upset he let my buddies down too.

Even if I could get over the fact he made my friends pick up their own tabs (especially since he was in a position to afford the bill) that alone spoke volumes.  He didn’t think enough of me to pay for the gals who helped him out and put the party together?  The same gals who crafted centerpieces out of old Kodak moments?  Unacceptable!

It was that night the picture became crystal clear, it wasn’t in color anymore either, it was black and white, no more gray area for me.

The reality is, this is one conclusion your friend has to come to on her own, just like I did.  If you push her too hard it might make her feel like it’s a choice between you and Mr. Mosey-along.

If that moment doesn’t come for her, chances are, her biological clock will start ticking so loudly, that even he will hear it.  I hope it doesn’t take that, however, at her age, it’s not a matter of when the alarm will go off, but whether she has it set to buzz or radio.

Men are the worst at realizing what they’ve got, and unusually don’t until it’s gone.  It’s unfortunate that we’re wired so differently.  It’s almost like you have to leave them to get them to come back.  I’ve never played that game and I don’t suggest anyone else ever play it either.  I think games are for kids.

Your friend needs to decide what she wants, say it and see what happens.  Actions speak louder than words, if this guy really loves her, he’ll step up and pop the question.  She needs to give him a shot at putting his money where his mouth is.  Men aren’t mind readers, they need direction…but NOT a shove!  Just like I did, I was clear about what I wanted and without saying anything, my former boyfriend was clear where he stood too.  I just wish he hadn’t dangled the bait — that was a true sleazeball move on his part.

My biggest regret with the guy mentioned above, not keeping the bling, selling it and sending all of my friends a check for dinner, along with a note apologizing for my former pain-in-the-necklace.

P.S.  In true dude fashion, he did double back in his black BMW, expecting me to be blown away by the fact he came around and was ready to tie the knot.  By then, in the words of the Eagles, I was already gone.

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High & Dry On The Highway

Posted on October 17, 2011. Filed under: Family, Parenting, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

The “friend” we have carpooled with the last two years just called me this morning and said they won’t be able to carpool this year!  She said her husband, who usually drives, is now on stock market deals at the crack of dawn and won’t be able to drive.  What about her lazy rear end?  She is a stay at home mom and can’t drive???  Nice.

Rolled Over

Dear Rolled Over,

When it comes to carting kids around, I know how important a good carpool system can be – it’s as important to us as ranch dressing is to our kids!

I’m sorry your co-carpooler has pulled the plug, especially without giving any type of traffic warning.  As if finding a reliable one to start with wasn’t difficult enough, now you’re stuck dialing for drivers in time for your daughters dance class, ugh!  It is hard to believe a parent, who doesn’t work outside of the home, wouldn’t have time to drive his or her little darlings around, isn’t it?

While my first reaction was the same as yours, perhaps there’s something she can’t share, for fear of embarrassment.  She could have a medical reason or maybe she’s not a great driver.  Any working dad (with a homemaker wife) who steps up to that responsibility must have a reason.  The fact that she’s not even trekking her own kids across town deserves at least a yellow caution light.

In a way, her ditching the designated driver duties is a blessing.  Personally, I wouldn’t want someone behind the wheel who’s pissed and has the pedal to the metal, or worse, one that isn’t skilled on the streets.

My husband, Scooter, will drive to or from school once in a blue moon and that’s overstating it, he drives about as often as a lunar eclipse , at any rate — you can only imagine what happens when I ask him to be responsible for more than just our children, his eyes glaze over and he looks like he’s about to faint.  You’d think I had suggested he give up beer for Lent!  It’s not a matter of being capable, he no doubt is — it’s because to him, handling his own children is a big job, so he won’t even entertain handling someone else’s.

Scoot isn’t anyone’s first call for carpool back up and it doesn’t sound like your former comrade should be either.  If they can’t buckle down, it’s best they get out of the HOV lane and make room for the rest of us who are on a mission, or more likely, on our way to music, cheer or gymnastics with 4 girls singing the latest Katy Perry song at the top of their lungs.

Sidebar:  If you truly believe it’s a case of lazy-bones, I see no harm in reaching out to her in a friendly way.  If everything is okay, then suggest she might want to try a drop-off or pick-up sometime.  Skip the negative aspects, such as the bickering between the kids in the backseat and focus on how fun it is to be the first to hear what happened in school that day.

 

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Old Flame Flair-Up

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

An ex-boyfriend is coming to town. We dated 17 years ago for a couple of years.  He asked me to marry him, but I wasn’t interested and we parted ways.  After we broke up, a friend told me that he made a collage of pictures of me that he had for years and that his girlfriend, now wife, had to ask him to get rid of it.   We lost touch until he started sending me Christmas cards of his family several years ago of which I reciprocated with pictures of mine.  Earlier this year, he calls me at my office after finding my information on the internet.  Then he calls several months ago saying he is coming to town for a 4 day conference and wants to spend every extra minute he has with me, my family and my parents. We live near a pretty fantastic city, so I’m surprised we are his main focus and it’s starting to make me feel uncomfortable.  He says my family and I made a big impact on him those many years ago, but this sudden re-entrance into our lives is making me a bit squeamish.  Am I overreacting?  How do I handle this guy?

Pesky Past Partner

Dear Pesky Past,

Well, if this isn’t harder to deal with than pulling off a pair of deluxe Spanx after a long day!

Albeit flattering – I personally think it’s a bit creepy.  It’s one thing to pine for someone, it’s another to put him or her on a pedestal and scare the bejesus out of them!

Honestly, real men don’t make collages of anything (not cars, not golf clubs, not beer cans, although that idea has probably crossed their mind) let alone old flames.  The ones that do, need to be watched.

Although I’m not an expert on stalking, I have dealt with my share of gawd-awful guys in my past and this my friend, seems to fall into the “let’s be cautious” category.

I have to tell you, your husband deserves a foot massage for even being open to the idea of spending time with this delusional Don Juan – let alone entertaining the idea of a four day weekend with this man and your entire posse.

Case in point, my husband, Scooter, doesn’t even let his own parents spend more than three days at a time with us, there’s no way in H-E-double hockey sticks that he’d consider spending that kind of time with a some dude I dated back in the 90’s – let alone one who wanted to marry me.

I have to wonder, what does his wife think of this?  Does she even know?  I’d bet there’s at least a tiny part of her that’s puzzled by this, I know I would be, wouldn’t you if the tables were turned?

It would be one thing if you two had parted as friends and had kept in constant contact.  For example, if he had truly become a family friend, where you, your husband and kids were spending quality time with him and his brood for all these years.

But that’s’ far from the case, he’s been M-I-A for almost two decades and here’s the kicker: you haven’t been looking for him!  That speaks volumes about how you each view this odd re-connection.

It could that he’s hoping that you’ll see him in a different light, and in some twisted way, hope you’ll take him back, or at the least, wish you could turn back time and admit you made a big mistake.  The problem is you didn’t, and don’t want him back.  I’ve mention this before – dudes like “thinking” they are wanted by all woman, especially those they perceive as the “one(s) who got away”.

Who wants to spend time with an ex, no matter what the situation?  They are your ex for a reason. You don’t want to hurt his feelings, but you also don’t want to give him false hope.

In my opinion you’ve already more than satiated his curiosity.  You took his call, gave him an update, which was: I’m happily married with children, and I’m glad to hear you’re doing well too.

Tell him your life is crazy busy and you’re booked with obligations.  If he wants to play a round of golf, get him a reservation on the course and have him latch on to a foursome, which does not include you, your husband or your dad.

Tell him you and your family (do not see him alone) has time for either one lunch or one dinner, in a public place, not your house.  Tell the kids it’s an old friend, but leave out all the other details, that could only bring unwanted confusion, or depending on their ages, drama.

 

Bottom line: you are off the market and so is he!  Exchange holiday cards and call it a day.

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Monster-in-laws

Posted on October 3, 2011. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

My in-laws are very critical people.  I’ve managed to try and ignore it for years, however recently things have gotten out of control.  My mother-in-law was particularly brutal towards me during our last visit.  Calling attention to me in unfriendly ways at cocktail parties or whispering and pointing at me while talking to her friends.  My husband told her to cool it, but it didn’t do much good.  Neither she nor my father-in-law apologized.  My husband doesn’t like to confront his parents about these types of things.  They just aren’t very nice people, I fear that they may criticize my children as well.

Dumped on daughter-in-law

Dear Dumped on,

I’ve always wondered why they’re called in-laws, especially when they spend so much time trying to make us feel like outsiders – seems to me that out-laws would be more appropriate don’t you think?

When it comes to dreading something, in-laws and dentists are near the top of just about everyone’s list.  In fact, they have a lot in common…you pretty much have to see them at least twice a year and you dread it every time, even when it’s only a routine visit.  Given the choice between a filling and a week with your husband’s parents is generally a tough decision.  Both require numbing, whether it’s a shot of lidocaine or a shot of whiskey!

You don’t have to look any further than the TV for examples of impolite  in-laws.  Just like the old show, Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray avoided confronting his mother Marie like the plague.  It was a funny show and #1 for all those years because it was pretty accurate, and everyone could relate, no pun intended.  On the flip side, The Brady Bunch didn’t have in-laws, which could explain why they always seemed so happy.  Carol and Mike’s formula for wedded bliss: no in-laws, plus a lawn of Astroturf equals no crab grass of any kind.

Face it, trying to deal with in-laws is like trying to give a cat a bath -someone’s claws are going to come out and both parties are going to leave the groomer unhappy.

Speaking of catty, talking behind someone’s back is bad enough, but for your monster-in-law to do it in front of you is unacceptable!  It’s like big girl bullying, she must need to do this to feel better about herself  – in the words of my mom Norma Jean “we need to pray for her.”

I’m guessing you are prettier, wiser and a better mother than she is/was, if you can add better cook to that list, now we’re talking war!  It sounds like she’s jealous of you and your relationship with your husband, as she clearly doesn’t care if he hears her reprehensible remarks as well.

Thank gawd you married him and saved him from her! Could you imagine dealing with her on a daily basis?  Your hubby did if for at least 18 years and doesn’t want to go back.  I’m guessing that’s why he’s hesitant to arbitrate this abominable situation, although it sounds like he gave it a shot.  My un-scientific guess is that less than 15 percent of husbands would have even tried, so your man gets points for that.

My ex-fiancé never came to my defense when his mother started stirring the pot.  Although we were engaged with a date on the calendar and a ring on my finger, she told him I wasn’t allowed come at Christmas because I “wasn’t family.”  I went along with her ridiculous demands to keep the peace and to “try” to make her happy.  In the end, he chose his mom and he left me hanging with a stack of wedding bills.  As far as I know, he still hasn’t married, no doubt due in large part to his mother, who thinks she is already his bride.  I feel sorry for him, but I must say, he did me a huge favor, as I couldn’t have dealt with her for the rest of either of our lives!  In her mind, no one is good enough for him and I’m guessing your monster-in-law feels the same about her son.

It’s been my experience that nothing can make these types of people happy — just like the Saturday Night Live character Debbie Downer — no matter how good something appears to everyone else, they can take that smile and turn it upside down.  It’s their issue to work on, not yours.

Chances are, your mom-by-marriage sees your spouse as her property and believes he is first and foremost her child, a distant second to that is the fact he’s your husband.  Your father-in-law is guilty too, but most likely less so, because men usually don’t get involved in this stuff.  He’s probably not saying anything, because he has to live with her, so it’s easier for him to just agree with her than to fight her.  Keep in mind, he knows all to well the wrath of her venom.

Nonetheless, I suggest treating them like you would other rude people and keep them at a distance.  It would be great if you could get along with your kids granny, but it’s not the end of the world if you can’t.

Consider this: When’s the last time you heard someone say “I have the best in-laws in the world”?  Honestly, not very often and when you actually hear someone say that, you don’t really believe them, at the least you think they have to be lying just a little.

My gut tells me she probably won’t be tough on your kids, because they are her sons’ children, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that.  Grandparents are wonderful, if they have good intentions, but the negative damage that can be created from a critical nana isn’t good for you or the kids.

Send the kids with their dad next summer to see me-maw and papa and take your own trip.  Your husband may give you a little grief for this, but he also knows it’s a lot grief if you go, thus he just might give you this all important hall pass.  Honestly, life is too short.  If they ask why you’re not coming, tell them your having surgery to remove the knife in your back.

 

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