Dear Ann Cannon • My elderly parents live 2,000 miles away and two hours ahead of us. We only get together once a year. Because of this, we like to Skype on the same day and at the same time for 30 minutes once a week just to “catch up.” The time is convenient for me and my parents. My dear wife of 23 years would like me to reschedule this because she would rather I do it when she is not around. She has the choice to Skype or not and usually does but honestly would rather not. Is she being selfish or should I try to reschedule just because she wants those 30 minutes a week for us to spend together? Our Skype time is 5:30-6 a.m.
— Long-Distance Son
Dear Long-Distance Son • You ask if your wife is being selfish. Hmmmm. Without really knowing her and what her relationship with your parents in general looks like, I am loath to pass judgment. Is it possible she thinks she’d be doing you and your parents a favor by bowing out of the weekly conversation? That the three of you would thus feel freer to share your thoughts and feelings if she weren’t participating? After all, the presence of in-laws — even beloved in-laws — does affect a group dynamic.
On the other hand, 30 minutes a week doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to make, especially for the sake of parents who are elderly (although at 5:30 in the morning, your wife is pretty much a captive audience). You say she wants to spend that time with you instead of Skyping with your folks, but surely there are other 30-minute blocks of time you could spend together during the week, right?
If I were you, I’d kindly ask your wife if there’s something else behind her desire to reschedule the time you Skype. It could be she’s having issues you’re not aware of at the present moment. Talking honestly about what’s going on could be helpful for you both.
In the end, only you can decide if you should reschedule your visits. But I wouldn’t tell your parents you’re doing so because of your wife. That information might be unnecessarily hurtful.
Dear Ann Cannon • I have a question for you and your readers. Why don’t people apologize when they’ve done something wrong and you both know it?
— Lowered Expectations
Dear Lowered Expectations • Why don’t people apologize, even when they know they’ve done something wrong? Here’s the short answer: Because people are H.U.M.A.N. And as we all know, humans are exceptionally fallible creatures.
In my experience, people who refuse to apologize often have perfectionistic tendencies. They set high— often unrealistically high — standards for themselves, and they don’t allow for mistakes. If and when they do make mistakes, they view themselves as failures. To apologize, therefore, is tantamount to admitting that they’re fundamentally worthless, which is a hard place to reside emotionally. It’s safer for them NOT to apologize and perhaps even blame someone else for what’s happened. This is unfortunate, of course, because a well-timed and sincere apology can do wonders for a relationship.
Your thoughts, Tribune readers?