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DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that people are going out again, my husband and I have attended a few events with friends and others. I notice that he turns on the charm big-time in front of other people, but when we are alone, he retreats to his corner of our home and rarely talks to me. The other day we were out and he was bragging about some of the work that I have been doing, and I was shocked. What he says to me when it’s just us is that I work too much. He got laid off during the pandemic and is mainly doing odd jobs these days. I can’t remember the last time he paid me a compliment. How can I get him to say nice things to me when it’s just us? — Be Nice to Me
DEAR BE NICE TO ME: The negative impact of the pandemic will be studied for years to come. So many people lost their jobs. That was devastating. Being in quarantine also stretched people’s capacity to live together and be kind to each other. This may be, in part, why your relationship with your husband is so strained right now. On one hand, he is proud of you and happy to call that out in public. On the other, he is grumpy and possibly depressed due to his circumstances.
Talk to your husband. Tell him you miss the thoughtful connection you once had. Tell him you miss him, and that even though you are in the house together a lot, it feels like you are on two separate islands. Point out how nice it was to hear him talk about you and your work with such enthusiasm the other day. Tell him you didn’t know he felt like that. You may also want to plan some more outings alone and with others to rekindle kindness in your marriage.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Not long ago, I agreed to go on a date with a man with whom I share a lot of friends. He was a nice guy, but ultimately I decided that we were not a good match. I thanked him for a nice evening, and we didn’t speak again. The other day, I found out that that same man has been telling all of our mutual friends that I was a terrible date. He told everyone that I was rude and obnoxious, and that he turned me down. He’s completely lying. What should I do? — Making Me Look Bad
DEAR MAKING ME LOOK BAD: Resist the urge to get in the gossip loop about this man. He realized the date didn’t go well, but rather than moving on, his ego urged him to make a statement. You can choose to say nothing about him. If your personality is not rude or obnoxious, your mutual friends probably already know that this guy is out of line. Let him dig his own grave, so to speak. You cannot control what he says, but you do not have to feed into it.
If you see him again, which is likely since you share friends, you can ask him why he would bad-mouth you. Just because neither of you decided to go on a second date doesn’t mean either of you is a bad person.