Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for 27 years. He is a "talker," very focused on his work, his goals and his plans. He is a teacher and is forever complaining about the politics in the school (of course, there are many), which he describes in detail every day. He does not seem to pay attention to things at home -- or to our own kids. Over time I have started to only half listen to him. I've stopped talking. I make him lunch every morning before work and buy school supplies for his class and snacks for his kids every time I go to a school function (he coaches at every sport they will allow). Two weeks ago I was promoted at work, with a very substantial raise. I was very excited to tell him about it. He congratulated me via text, but that was the end of it. When I got home he started in on how hard school was and how bad the football team did, etc. No hug, no kiss, no extra words about my news. I envisioned flowers, kind words and encouragement. I told him how I felt and he said that I did not acknowledge his last raise and he didn't really think it was a big deal. I cannot seem to get over this. I feel like I do not matter in our home. In arguing about this, he mentioned that I don't listen to him. It would be impossible, because he very literally never shuts up. I am so hurt and he doesn't care. I'm tired of being in second place. Do you feel like I'm making a big deal out of nothing? Am I being too sensitive?
Trying to Get Over It
DEAR TRYING: Without blaming you for your husband's verbal dominance, perhaps he talks more and more partly because you have tuned out. But obviously -- not even Jimmy Fallon's wife could be engaged during a monologue that lasts for 27 years.
Of course you want hearts and flowers during your celebratory moment. But are you also giving what you would hope to receive? If you want him to behave differently, perhaps you can try to also behave differently. Ask your husband to sit down with you. Make eye contact. Start by telling him, "I'm sure I don't pay full attention to everything you want to tell me. It's important to me to be supportive to you. But I need that, too. I feel like things are pretty unbalanced between us. I don't feel noticed. Can we work together to try to change?" In the book, "Emotional Fitness for Couples: 10 Minutes a Day to a Better Relationship," (2005, New Harbinger Publications), among other exercises, author Barton Goldsmith suggests a weekly meeting where couples connect, sync their calendars and anticipate challenges. Together. This short sit-down is one way to start communicating differently.
DEAR AMY: Please settle a dispute. For several years my wife has been using a hairdresser who owns the salon. My wife regularly tips her and she apparently expects to be tipped, as she recently asked whether my wife wanted to add the tip to her credit card charge. I say that this woman should not be tipped because as the salon owner she doesn't have to rent the booth nor pay a percentage of the total, as do the other beauticians who work in the shop. What do you think?
DEAR CURIOUS: The idea that you should not tip the owner of a salon (for the reasons you state) seems to have gone the way of the shag haircut. If the salon owner gives great service and the recipient is inspired to tip, then she/he should do so.
DEAR AMY: Your answer to "Ringed Out" caused me to go "Duh." She wanted to wear her mother's engagement ring, but this was upsetting her husband. Why doesn't she just wear her mother's ring on her right hand and continue to wear her own engagement ring on her left?
Diamond in the Rough
DEAR DIAMOND: "Duh" is right. That's an obvious solution. But I had the strong feeling that "Ringed Out" no longer wanted to wear her engagement ring at all.