My husband of 16 years is a happy, upbeat man.
However, he sometimes makes inappropriate comments which he thinks are okay.
Example: a neighbour told us of her recent cancer diagnosis. She’s in constant pain, on morphine, and can't sleep well.
She’s on her own with one child. She confided how terribly anxious she feels.
My husband said, "Well, get over it!"
He said that he had prostate cancer seven years ago and is well. His son had brain cancer three years ago and is well.
He added, “They've made great strides in cancer treatment. You have to stay positive. That’s what works! I had a positive attitude, my son had a positive attitude, and we're just great!”
Later, I said that it was inappropriate of him to tell her to "get over it." I said that when he’s told me that, it feels really hurtful. And doesn’t help.
The woman didn't say anything to him about his comments.
How can I dissuade him from saying these inappropriate and/or hurtful things?
Or, am I wrong?
If your neighbour avoids your husband, you’ll know her response matches yours.
I agree that “get over it” is a harsh, unsympathetic statement he should not use when someone’s confiding their worst news.
But, many people would find it encouraging to learn of successes after cancer treatment.
It’s his delivery that’s over the top. And his belief that everyone can be like him.
Once he learned that you were hurt, his get-over-it should’ve stopped regarding you.
With others, he won’t change until someone else complains.
Tell him you’ll keep a watch on the neighbour to see how she felt.
Meanwhile, advise him that his positivism doesn’t stand a chance if he’s seen to be unsympathetic.
First, he should acknowledge another person’s real pain and anxiety.
Then he can bring out his encouragement.
My sister has two young children; we have three. She always plans the kids’ family birthday celebration well after their birthday.
We find this confusing to our kids.
She’s always been last-minute and selfish on making plans.
One year our kids were sick and couldn't attend the party, so she celebrated with all other family members but planned another party seven months later.
We felt guilty and went, but are we wrong that this is strange?
We didn't have a party for our kids this year but did receive family’s gifts. I’d never throw a party months later.
Now, again, a month after her son's birthday, I hear she still wants to have one.
What’s the proper etiquette on this? No one else will tell her to get it together or just celebrate with her own family.
It causes major tension because my husband already doesn't get along well with her and is upset that I don't stand up to her.
You’re looking for an “etiquette” reason to tell off your sister.
But this is really about your basic sibling differences. And your husband’s contributing to tensions that are already there, to boost his dislike.
You’re the organized sister, she’s the haphazard one. But everyone else in the family is probably used to this and doesn’t care.
Your children also won’t care, unless you keep saying their aunt’s weird.
If you want the kids to have a cousins’ relationship and enjoy family get-togethers, lighten up.
Tell your husband (and yourself) to try and accept your sister as she is. She tries to do the same with you, by always inviting you and your children.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman whose friend of 25 years is flirting privately with her husband (October 27):
Reader – “Since her husband accuses her of imagining things, he’s probably trying to cover up his involvement and the ego boosting he’s getting.
“She needs to let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE needs to stop reciprocating the flirting with her friend, stop all forms of contact, and stop being disrespectful to her... his wife!!
“He’s obviously having an emotional affair with her friend and they are both undermining his wife’ self-esteem and marriage.
“She should tell her friend that unless this behaviour changes, they can no longer be friends.
“Counselling definitely seems to be in order, to find out what about this “friend” has captivated him.
“I’ve lived through this experience. It’s horrible when your husband betrays you with an inappropriate "friendship" and emotional affair with someone. This needs to be dealt with immediately.”
Tip of the day:
Positive encouragement is most helpful after you’ve acknowledged another’s discomforts and/or fears.