Can you counsel cats? I'm just kidding. But it's about cats. My son, who is unreliable in keeping jobs moved in with me six months ago. His ex-girlfriend has custody of their son, but he has him every other weekend. Of course, that means I have him every other weekend, as my son still likes to party with his friends, and leaves four year old "Jason" with me. Then there are the cats. He brought his two grown cats with him, but they are mine to feed and everything else. John, I like cats- just not everyone else's cats. They claw my furniture, and when they are in a bad mood, urinate in various places in the house. Last month my son got a job in a town two hours away. He left the cats with me, as his new apartment is pet-free. I have told him I don't want the cats, but he gets angry with me and tells me if I won't keep them, I should just take them out back and shoot them because that's what the pound will do with them anyway. I'm in a fix. Any suggestions?
Dear Cat mom,
The problem is that your son’s brain is infected with EntitlementMaximus, and you join the ranks of the Frustrated Unassertive. However, you need a solution, not a diagnosis. Entitled people feel like they deserve stuff not because they have earned it, but because they want it. And when they don't get it, it's someone else's fault, not theirs. A potential cure for him might be to ship him off to Calcutta and have him do volunteer work for a year. That seems, however, quite unlikely. It is extremely difficult to change someone against their will. It is possible though to change ourselves. Deciding on a course of action is step one. For example, telling him he now has exactly thirty days to get his pets or you must give them to the local humane shelter. Mark it on the calendar and make the appropriate plans to do it. Secondly and perhaps most importantly: NO BLUFFING. If you can't follow through, then do not say it. No threats, just action. If you are worried about how to deliver the news, you can preface the call with a compassionate statement such as, “I feel so badly to tell you this, but..." When he argues, be kind, but do not defend your position. You can simply repeat the order. Although the transition from unassertive to properly assertive is a bit unnerving for most at the beginning, it may be one of the most important improvements you will ever make. Take a deep breath, say a prayer (or whatever you do to strengthen yourself) and improve your existence.
Am I being unrealistic in my marriage? We have been happily married for eight years, have two children, and are talking about a third. I know our current and future years are not still the honeymoon period, but I find myself a little less happy than I thought I'd be at eight years. I am the center of our family, and "George" is a less enthusiastic person. He comes home from work and has less patience with the girls than he should have. I notice the kids gripping about each other in the same manner he does. We share chores better than most couples, and he's a good provider. However, he is less and less expressive about being with me. The lack of a warm greeting when one of us gets home is one example of a sad change. I don't need advice on saving my marriage, but making it better. Am I looking at our future: more and more drab? Despite it all, I still love him with all my heart.
I have to make an assumption here: y'all planned on this marriage being forever, and not just until you bugged each other too much. When we first begin courting each other, all the special stuff comes effortlessly. Dressing up for each other, going out of our way to please the other, basically working to make the other person know how special they are to us. Then, as our life together progresses, we slip into normal/mindless mode. We stop greeting each other with a loving embrace and kiss, happily making little sacrifices for each other, in other words, we stop trying to impress each other. Years ago, when my daughter got a new(er) car, she had to make the transition from a standard transmission to an automatic. Rather than being pleased with the ease of driving, she expressed her concern: “Daddy, this is kinda boring. I don't know what to do with my left foot [the clutch] or my right hand [the gear shift] while I’m driving”. It's the opposite order with our marriages. We're on automatic in the beginning by trying to make the other person happy. Then, later, we change to a manual transmission; we have to manually change gears with a little bit of effort. So what's the problem? If it doesn't come naturally, we don't do it?
So specifically I'd recommend having a kind sit-down with each other. Rather than tell someone what they are doing wrong, you can remind them of how much you look forward to seeing him, and you would love to be met with a loving kiss (even a light kiss is better than a wave from across the room). Don't be scared to lead the way. Sometimes we boys need loving reminders of how to take care of our girls. Without being overly demanding, help him to remember how to look out for you. He’ll probably need a tune-up or two on down the road. Plenty of older couples lead “normal” existences as pleasant roommates. Personally, I'd rather try to at least infrequently try to impress my girl and keep her in love with me.