Dear Ann Cannon • Are my expectations for communicating with my spouse each day off target?
After our kids were born (both when we were working and when I chose to stay home), I worried about change in priorities and communication with my spouse. I read in a helpful book that checking in twice a day was good. That didn’t work for us, so we decided on an email once a day.
Now that I’m home, if I’m lucky, I hear from my spouse during work hours once a week. I feel irritated and ignored during the day, even though we have time to catch up in the evenings. I can’t help but compare with others who chat, text, call or email their spouses throughout the day.
Am I getting frustrated with something silly?
— Waiting-to-Hear Spouse
Dear Waiting-to-Hear • Thanks so much for your question. My guess is that you’re not the only person in a relationship who deals with this issue.
Because your husband originally agreed to the idea of emailing you once a day, I assume he has the type of job that wouldn’t put his or his co-workers’ lives in danger if he were to take a timeout and check in with you. In other words, he isn’t fishing for Alaskan king crab on the “vast Bering Sea,” right? So the question remains: Why isn’t he emailing you once a day per your plan?
Frankly, there could be all kinds of reasons that have nothing at all to do with his feelings for you. Maybe he isn’t near a computer that often. Maybe he doesn’t carry his smartphone with him at all times. Maybe he’s the kind of person who naturally compartmentalizes his life, which makes it challenging for him to shift his focus from work to family to work. Because I don’t know him personally or have a feel for what his days look like, it’s hard for me to say. But I definitely think you should talk to your husband. Don’t accuse. Just ask what’s up. Then listen. After that, tell him (kindly) again what you want and why you want it.
Will this kind of frank conversation change his behavior? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you conclude your husband does, in fact, love and respect you, I personally wouldn’t make a big deal about his lack of daytime communication — especially since the two of you “catch up in the evenings.”
MEANWHILE. I was interested in your honest admission (Thank you! I appreciate people who make honest admissions!) that you tend to compare yourself with other people. We all do. And the rise of social media has given us even more ways to see how we (supposedly) do or don’t measure up. Gah! As if being human weren’t already challenging enough! Anyway, I’m going to tell you something you already know: Do your best to opt out of the comparison game. You can’t win. No one can. #resist.
Dear Ann Cannon • The women in our family do not go gray. Period. End of story. In fact, my own mother’s last words on this Earth to me were, “I need a tint tomorrow.” But my only daughter, who turns 63 this spring, has decided to let nature take its course and go (mostly) gray. How can I tell her I think this is a really bad idea?
— Someone’s Mother
Dear Someone’s Mother • I think you just did. Again. (Love you, Mom.)