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DEAR HARRIETTE: I asked my husband to go to therapy with me, and you would have thought I had told him the Earth is flat. He looked at me incredulously and shook his head. He used to go to therapy before we met — for years! I thought of him as a progressive person, as someone who is proactive about taking care of himself, inside and out. But after we met (many years ago), he said that was that, and he didn’t need therapy anymore.
My husband and I have fought about all kinds of things over the years. Whenever I address how he talks to me — which I think is often rude and dismissive — he blows it off, saying I am too sensitive. If I push back, everything escalates, and it turns into a screaming match. So I usually just swallow it. But I’m tired of doing that. I want things to be better, and I can’t figure out how to deal with it alone. We need help. How can I get him to go to counseling? — Need Help
DEAR NEED HELP: Remind your husband of how he used to address challenges that he faced, including the fact that he chose to go to therapy years ago and said it benefited him. Then recommend that the two of you go to therapy now. Explain that you believe your relationship needs some help to get back on course. Point out that the tone he often uses when talking to you makes you uncomfortable. Give him specific examples of conversations when you felt he was being mean or dismissive. Describe the moment vividly and distinctly, but without emotion — if at all possible. Report the facts as you know them and how it made you feel. Also, tell him that when you push back, he digs in further, which makes you more uncomfortable.
Appeal to your husband’s better nature. Tell him you think that professional counseling can help the two of you get to the bottom of whatever is bothering you on a core level so that you can deal with it.
Hopefully he will agree. Either way, you should go. Therapy will help you develop tools to deal with your challenges.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Mother’s Day came and went with no fanfare for me. I have one 17-year-old child and a husband. I do everything for them. We did go out to dinner — that I planned. But that was it. I have taught my son that he should be thoughtful and, at the very least, get me a card if not an actual gift for special occasions. I have tried to teach him how to be a gentleman and how to be thoughtful. We talk about it, and I demonstrate it in the way that I care for him. All I got was a verbal “Happy Mother’s Day.” I know it’s after the fact, but I think I should talk to him about it. The point is not so much the holiday as it is being thoughtful and attentive. Am I overreacting? — Forget Me Not
DEAR FORGET ME NOT: It’s not too late to teach your son what matters to you. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, a birthday or some other occasion that you value, remind your son of how you want him to show up. Give him examples of what he could have done for Mother’s Day, being sure to include small gestures that go a long way. He will not know you were disappointed if you don’t tell him.