DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for four years. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ll enter a room and remark about something I’d love to do that day, and he ignores me. I don’t get a head nod, grunt or eye contact. Oftentimes he’s checking social media, and he’ll say, after an awkward three minutes of silence, “Sorry, I was just reading something.” I certainly don’t need to be acknowledged all the time, nor does the room have to be filled with active conversation, but I find this silence disrespectful. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he brushes it off as simply, “I didn’t think I needed to answer,” or worse, “What do you want me to say?” Am I being too sensitive?
Talking to Walls in Ottawa
DEAR TALKING TO WALLS: Your husband is demonstrating the smartphone pause. This is the slack-faced absorption of someone who is so deeply engaged and distracted by his device, that he forgets he’s in the real world.
But when you walk into a room and he is basically doing something else, aren’t you in some sense interrupting him, and wouldn’t it be most respectful for you to wait until he is done?
Regardless of the specific dynamic, after four years of marriage, it would be a good idea for the two of you to remind each other that if you don’t make a point of engaging one another in a loving and enthusiastic way, you could end up basically navigating around each other in silence.
I read a study showing that the typical married couple actually spends a shockingly brief time making eye contact each day. Sometimes, proximity breeds contempt. Much of the time, it breeds ... meh.
Eye contact, polite greetings and expressions of enthusiasm are everyday ways that you both can actively participate in your relationship and help to keep it fresh.
Demonstrate your values by always greeting him in the way you want to be greeted.
DEAR AMY: I am a female and have known my best friend (male) for a few years. I realized that I’m in love with him, and I can’t stop thinking about him. I’ve loved him for at least a year now and I just can’t bring myself to tell him, because he has a girlfriend of about six months and they are pretty serious. I’m also really good friends with his girlfriend. I’ve known her forever. I actually introduced them. Do I tell him now? Or wait for them to break up? Or do I just not tell him at all?
Crushed by My Crush
DEAR CRUSHED: You should not interfere with your friend’s serious relationship. Confessing this now is not fair to either of these friends.
This is a very tough situation, that’s why it has been used as the plot point for stories spanning from Shakespeare to “Friends.”
Love is patient. It is also kind. You should be both patient and kind, and hold this crush close until you have an appropriate opening to disclose it.
DEAR AMY: I thought your answer to “Confused Grandma” was on target. This grandmother was complaining because her son-in-law’s parents insisted that the grandchildren always open gifts at their house and then leave the gifts there. But it may be that there is no malice on the part of the other family. They may simply wish for the gifts to stay at their home so they will be there for the children when they visit between Christmases and they’ll have toys to play with and look forward to. It is not necessarily a bad thing for children to learn that different relatives have different house “rules.”
DEAR READER: These two children were 2 and 4 years old. At their young ages, I think it is unreasonable to expect them to fully understand how to experience the joy of opening a gift, and then not to be able to take it with them when they leave.
I agree that thoughtful grandparents want for their grandchildren to have treasured things to play with while visiting. I also agree that it is important for children to understand that different households have different cultures, rules and ideas for how to do things.