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Husband needs gentle guidance

Last modified: 10/21/2012 12:00:00 AM
Q: My husband doesn't take good care of his health, so he's always getting sick. And he is such a baby when he is sick. I used to be sympathetic, but now I'm just annoyed. Yes, you will get a cold if you're not good about washing your hands while commuting during flu season. How do I handle this?

A: There's a middle ground here between 'Get your own darn soup - it's your fault you're sick!' and 'Oh, honey, please continue licking those subway walls - I'll take care of you no matter what!' Arriving at the sick-spouse sweet spot involves getting your points across without increasing his agony when he's already sick. The next time he's recovered, tell him that you worry he's got a couple of habits that are going to keep making him miserable. Being specific and respectful should encourage him to make some small changes.

Q: I work with a bunch of guys who are very crude. I'm not a prude, but some of the things that they talk about are inappropriate. How do I complain without being branded as 'that girl'?

A: If it's not an actionable offense and it's something you want to keep between you and them, then make some subtle but persistent interventions in the moment. When they get out of hand, here is a nice place to start: Clear your throat, make direct eye contact with an empathetic smile, and say, 'Guys, guys - it's going a bit overboard here. Can we tone it down?'

(Baggage Check is written by Andrea Bonior, a Washington-area clinical psychologist and the author of The Friendship Fix. For more, go to drandreabonior.com.)


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