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What's really behind those binges on business trips?

DEAR AMY: My husband seems to slip into "vacation mode" when he travels on business. He spends extravagantly, often putting large charges on our credit card. He drinks excessively, and recently he fell asleep drunk in a hotel bathroom. Even though he promises not to do any of these things each time he leaves, he says he "doesn't know why" he does it. He tells me that most of the money he spends is on gifts for me, which is true, but I'd rather save our money for a vacation together or paying off debt. How can I get my point across without nagging? Is it time to see a counselor?Frustrated WifeDEAR FRUSTRATED: It is definitely time to see a counselor. Your husband is binge drinking, binge spending and out of control when he's on the road. Furthermore, he doesn't know (or claims not to know) why he behaves this way. This could be triggered by stress - at home or at work. Or it could be a relapse of an earlier problem he hasn't told you about. Because this is happening regularly, he should see a professional to explore what's going on. Don't frame this as a household budgeting issue but as a mystery that worries you to the core. Urge him into therapy before his employer does.

DEAR AMY: A mom who wrote to you was concerned about her teenage daughter being sarcastic and unpleasant, and losing friends. My daughter has similar issues. She is also straightforward, even if it's not always nice. We had been working with her on this, but she was resisting. Her counselor suggested that we videotape her and let her see it. She was relaying a story from school with us, and we had her say it again on tape. When we showed it to her, she was shocked at how her face looked and how she sounded. We now have a much easier time working with her on reframing her statements. Sometimes a picture (or video) is worth a thousand arguments. Relieved Mom

DEAR RELIEVED: People who have trouble reading social cues often need training to learn this important skill. Viewing photos or video of other people's facial expressions can actually teach recognition. Your daughter's therapist had a great idea - to show your daughter her own face.

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