How can I gently but firmly tell a co-worker that I don't want my birthday celebrated? I'm not comfortable with the attention. I've tried to tell her this, but she always goes against my wishes.
I'm just an ordinary guy who prefers to let the day go by unnoticed and I dread the question as to how old I am, since this one is a milestone. Forty!!
- No Cake Please
Forty is the new frontier for taking charge of how you live the next four-plus decades. Invite your co-worker to lunch and tell her you value her friendship and don't want to offend her; but you're making it clear you do NOT like or want a birthday fuss. She can treat you to lunch that day (if you like), but no cake, please.
As for your "milestone," here's the good news: The build-up to turning 40 will be over. You'll wake up the next day surprisingly capable of improving your health, outlook, and relationships, if you choose. It's up to you.
My husband and I have been married for 25 years, many of them happy years, with two wonderful children. We've had our ups and downs throughout the last few years. He says he now wants out of the marriage, to control his own space, own time and own money.
We've tried marriage counselling (five sessions) but found the counsellors of little help. I'd like to work through our relationship issues but my husband isn't interested. When I raise the subject, he just closes down. Should I accept that our marriage is over or is there another way of working on our marriage?
- Looking for Answers
The crucial approach is honesty and I suspect your husband is lacking on this score. He's not saying what's really going on - is it another woman? financial problems? mid-life fears?
Marriage counsellors can only work with what you give them, and his disinterest and withdrawal are major obstacles to therapy. I advise you to go on your own for counselling to think through your choices.
See a lawyer, too, to protect your future and that of your children. Unless your husband opens up, he'll soon be gone.
Ellie, I have deep feelings for a wonderful guy with numerous similar interests to me, whom I met at college. However, he's still with his long-term girlfriend, which is why I haven't expressed my feelings. Having Asperger's Syndrome, I've struggled with social situations throughout my life, as well as academics. One side of me desperately wants to remain friends with him... he's probably the first true friend I've ever had. Another side of me wants to run away and never see him again.
These conflicting emotions are starting to affect my relationships with my family, and my schoolwork. I still have to work with him at school, and retain at least a professional relationship. I know that if I withdraw (the only way I know how to deal with these kinds of situations) I'll hurt him, and I'll be hurt too. Because of the strain, I've become very distant with him. It's a huge emotional breakthrough for me to even crave someone else's company.
- What should I do?
Your affection for this classmate is natural, and a positive signal to you that your disorder doesn't prevent you from making close friendships. As you well know, people with Asperger Syndrome (Asperger's Disorder - a neurobiological condition) often have difficulties with social skills, and transitions or changes. There's also a tendency to be preoccupied with particular subjects, and so it's understandable that your dilemma over this guy is affecting you.
But many people without AS face similar social situations, whereby they're attracted to someone who's not available romantically; and in many cases, the friendship is too valuable to lose. I suggest this is the case for you. He's a pal you enjoy and with whom you share academic and other interests. Keep up the contact, but limit it to a school-based level. But ask whomever treats you for AS to refer you to someone professional and experienced with your condition, to discuss this emotional situation.
Adults with Asperger's can have relationships and families, and lead happy lives. But like all other people, you need to find the right, available partner and learn to distinguish early that those who aren't free, are not rejecting you.
Tip of the day:
You can avoid the hoopla of a birthday, but it's foolish to try to avoid your age and stage.