Carolyn Hax: Advice

Partner needs to put down phone

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My partner is seemingly addicted to her phone (browsing, playing games, etc.) and it’s driving me batty. I’ve convinced her that it’s rude to use her phone at meals, but it invades any time that the two of us spend together. I’m not sure I can keep complaining about this and get nowhere. Any ideas? Do I just need to accept the third wheel in our relationship?

Anonymous

Why would anyone do that? That’s what breaking up is for.

If that’s not possible or humane for some reason, or if you’d like one last shot at addressing it as a treatable addiction, then take it to counseling, since it’s apparently not enough to impress her that you’re lonely while she’s sitting two feet away.

I don’t think I’m making too much of it to say this is the issue of our time. Too many of us aren’t present even when we’re present.

Dear Carolyn: How does one make a reasoned choice when picking the possible guardian for a child, should the worst happen? My husband and I can’t seem to come to an agreement. We both have our personal choices and neither family is specifically bad, but neither family makes the choices we would want for our daughter. Husband’s choice could be more focused on our daughter in a time of need, but the family is religious and we are not. My choice has children closer to our daughter’s age that she might be able to connect with, but the kids spend a lot of time with a grandmother who openly favors one child over the other. Neither family would be close to our child as we live far from both.

Obviously this is a huge decision and one that should be made by more than just nitpicking at people’s personal choices. So, how to go about doing that?

Choosing a Guardian

Instead of choosing someone to raise your child for you, choose the person who will choose. This is actually closer to what naming a guardian does anyway; such naming just usually comes with a conversation with your preferred guardian to make sure he or she is prepared to welcome your child, so it becomes a de facto home selection.

In your case, though, I suggest making it clear that the person you designate is charged with deciding, with the understanding that the best choice might change over time. It’s one thing for an infant to be raised far away from home (though local relatives might struggle with that), but another for a 10th-grader to be uprooted.

What you want is someone who understands your priorities and misgivings and also, especially over time, your child’s personality. So pick someone close to you who is dependable and rational — and also be open to updating your choice as circumstances warrant. This person can also note that, say, Choice A is stepping forward eagerly and Choice B is balking a bit, something you can’t really predict.

And you can revisit your choice as your relationship with your named guardian changes.

Before you let this knot you up too tightly: Know how unlikely it is that you'll need this. Pick someone with integrity and give yourself permission to sleep well at night.

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