Carolyn Hax: Can't change him, so accept it or leave

Carolyn Hax:

August 12, 2013 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: My relationship with a man is fading due to his obsessive work habits. When we first met he was unemployed, so the dynamic was completely different. I am at a loss on how to deal with this. I am not the controlling type, but he has been driving me nuts for a long time (two-plus years). Any suggestions?

WORKAHOLIC

The line belongs right between what is your business, and what is his.

His business: How he treats you (and how he consents to be treated).

Your business: How you consent to be treated (and how you treat him).

If you don't like the way he is treating you, then you articulate how you feel and what changes you would like to see.

If he doesn't make the changes, then you get to decide whether you want to stay in the relationship as-is, or whether you would rather break up. He has been "driving me nuts" for "two-plus years." And you are still with him … why, exactly?

Dear Carolyn: My daughter is in third grade, and her teacher lost her mother last week. I'd like to know what we, as parents, should be doing right now for the teacher. Sure, send a card and flowers. But, we're not close friends or family, so I don't know what her day-to-day needs are. Do you have any suggestions?

ANONYMOUS

My main suggestion is not to overdo it. When people are grieving, they often use work as their place to be normal, to escape being The Person Who's Grieving. Even expressing condolences can affect people's composure.

You have a generous heart, and the offer to volunteer in the classroom is a good one that you can re-make when the teacher is back, ideally through the school and not through the teacher herself. Having your daughter make/write the card would also be swell - just keep your involvement to the kind that the teacher can respond/react to in private.

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