Dear Ann Cannon • My husband hardly ever says “thank you.” Sometimes I’ll point it out to him and he’ll promise to be better about saying it, but then he falls back into his old habits. I feel like he doesn’t appreciate the many things I do for him, and it’s starting to make me feel resentful. Is there anything I can do about this besides continually telling him to thank me?
— Not Quite Resentful … Yet
Dear Not Quite • As I was reading this, I almost thought my husband could have written it. Except he would have said, “My wife hardly ever hangs up bath towels. Sometimes she promises to be better, but then she falls back into her old habits.” I only mention this because while it annoys me to be reminded about hanging up towels, reminders do work. For a while. And that it is probably as good as it’s going to get around chez Cannon.
What I’m saying here is that you may have to keep reminding your husband (as gently and kindly as possible) to say thanks. You might also explain why it’s important to you that you hear words of affirmation (therapy talk!) from him. Hopefully, he’s a faster learner than I am, which would be awesome. And, frankly, you may also get to the point where it doesn’t matter to you if he says thank you, especially if he shows his appreciation for you in other ways. In fact, make it a point right now to notice the non-verbal ways he says “thanks.”
Finally, your email is a good reminder to all of us that expressing gratitude in any situation is never a bad idea.
Dear Ann Cannon • I have a moral dilemma here. My sister-in-law is getting married in a couple weeks and her fiancé is a total manipulative jerk and everyone in her family agrees. Yet they are still getting married. I pride myself on honesty even when it is unwanted, and it is not a secret how I feel about him. I also don’t have a poker face so the disgust on my face will be evident when I look at him.
I feel like going to the wedding is showing support for the couple so I would rather not go at all. But my husband says I’m just being a jerk myself and who my sister-in-law marries is her decision — which it totally is, but we have to deal with him, too, and deal with the fallout when they eventually divorce. What should I do? Should I go and essentially lie and pretend I am happy about it? Or not go at all and deal with her anger?
— Dreading This Wedding
Dear Dreading • Ugh. It’s hard when we suspect (or know!) that someone we love is walking into a disastrous relationship. Unfortunately, your husband is right. Who your sister-in-law marries is her decision. And, in fact, the more you try to convince her that she’s making a HUGE mistake, the more likely she is to double-down on that decision. At least for now.
Which brings us to your question about the wedding: Should you stay or should you go?
I think it’s fair to say you’re focused on your own feelings at the moment, right? This is both understandable and completely normal. But maybe you should consider your sister-in-law’s feelings instead. She probably already knows you don’t approve of this marriage, so I doubt she’d see your presence at the wedding as your tacit approval of the union. She would, however, assume that you care enough for her personally to be there. In other words, she’ll see you as a friend.
And if things play out as you predict they will, she’s going to need all the friends she can get, right?