DEAR CAROLYN: I have a job that a lot of people find interesting; it involves travel and working with celebrities. My husband, on the other hand, works in a field that’s important but highly technical. I’ve seen people’s eyes glaze over when he tries to describe it.
Social gatherings have become really stressful. People flock to me, ignore husband, and he ends up resentful and bitter by the end of the night. I get how frustrating this must be for him, and I don’t encourage the spotlight (“Work’s fine, thanks — hey, has anyone else been watching ‘The Good Place’?”).
At the same time, I can’t force people to be more interested in what he does. Any suggestions?
DEAR SPOTLIGHT: Grow-up dust?
I mean, I sympathize with his frustration that … no, actually, I don’t. Getting “resentful and bitter” about not getting enough fawning attention, to the point where you’re feeling stress splashover as a result of his envy, is just not the emotional output of a mature, well-adjusted adult.
To wit: describing a highly technical job to the eye-glaze of others. How many times does a person do that before skipping to Plan B? “If I told you I’d have to kill you, and in this case it would be a mercy killing.”
Or something, anything. He is the one who needs to fix this with, “Hey, has anyone else been watching ‘The Good Place’?” So the question you need to answer before I can really help you is, why won’t he?
DEAR CAROLYN: My wife and I have two young children. In the past we’ve gone up to one grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and then to the other family for three or so days before returning home. This has worked well.
However, our oldest is now 3. We feel like we’d like to wake up Christmas morning in our own house, so our kids can open presents. We’re getting major blowback for this. We offered to travel to the grandparents afterward, around 11 a.m. on Christmas Day, but in reality we don’t want to do that either. We’d prefer to go up on the 26th.
My wife and I are both from big, loving, families but we’re getting fatigued living out of a suitcase for every major holiday, and would like to start our own traditions. They refuse to come down to us for holidays because there are too many of them. Are we being unreasonable?
DEAR PLANNING: No. Blowback is not an invoice you have to pay. Say you’re sorry to disappoint them and you look forward to a time they are able to visit.
Be loving but firm through their outrage storm.
A well-in-advance Merry Christmas-morning-in-your-house to all.
DEAR CAROLYN: I think you mentioned before an organization that helped people take control of their finances, like when there’s too much debt they helped to figure out how to pay it or they contact the credit card company and try to lower the debt. I can’t remember the name.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: National Foundation for Credit Counseling. www.nfcc.org/about-us/.
Adapted from a recent online discussion. Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.