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Make sure you stay on your side of the line

Published August 10, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • My relationship with a lovely 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 on how to constructively draw the line?

Workaholic

Dear 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. No trying to change someone: Not only is it not your place to decide who and how someone should be, but that also encourages you to imagine what you want instead of seeing what you have. He has been "driving me nuts" for "two-plus years." And you are still with him ... why, exactly?

Dear Carolyn • My daughter is in 3rd 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. I asked the school if I should come volunteer a couple of days next week, but they don't even know if she'll be back by then. Do you have any suggestions?

Anonymous

Dear 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 when they'd rather stay on an even professional keel.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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