DEAR AMY: My husband, although usually kind and goodwilled, never follows through on his word. He will "pump up" an upcoming celebration with statements like, "It will be the best night of your life," or "You're going to love your birthday present," or even, "I'm going to put so much effort into this!" He has a way of pumping up his efforts, but when the big day arrives, there have been no plans, no gifts -- no thought. I'm usually pretty good at holding back excitement or reminding him not to say something unless he follows through, but it continues.
The worst was our wedding. I had explained to him the tradition of the bride and groom exchanging small gifts before the wedding, and reminded him of simple but thoughtful ideas for me (a book, a card, flowers). It's a tradition that is important to me since it forces a couple to sit back and be reminded of each other on such a busy day.
The big day came, and I gave him a very thoughtful gift but received nothing. I later asked why he hadn't done anything when he knew I had something for him. His answer was: "Sorry, I guess I should have." I would have been fine with no gift if we had agreed on that, or it wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't once again "pumped me up." Am I being too petty, or is there a way to kindly tell him to be more realistic with his celebrations?
DEAR IRKED: I feel for your husband. His intentions are great, but he hasn't mastered the art of managing expectations. Your wedding tradition was what you wanted. You raised the stakes, and he responded with passive aggression or simple performance anxiety. And then you let him know he failed you. On your wedding day.
I feel for you, too. You're always having to modulate your expectations and then manage your disappointment (and correct him).
Look to the small things he does well, and appreciate these gestures as grand declarations of love.
DEAR AMY: I've worked in an office for some time with an associate who is constantly coughing or clearing his throat. I am up to my eyeballs in sniffles, ahems and hacks. I believe some of these behaviors are personal tics. What can I do besides offer a tissue?
DEAR COUGHED: You cannot cure or change someone else's tics. But you can train yourself to tolerate them. I prescribe an "office ommmm."