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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are both schoolteachers. She hates to call in sick and often teaches class when she says she feels ill. I don't argue with her.
The problem arises when I am not feeling well. When I am sick and feverish, I'm not inclined to rise from my sickbed and go to work. On those few occasions, my wife objects strenuously. She interrogates me about my symptoms, then makes her own "diagnosis" on the spot. Apparently, her gold standard for staying home is the inability to stand.
This creates a problem for me at work because co-workers are concerned about catching my obvious illness. The last time I felt sick, my wife ordered me to go to work. When I saw a doctor afterward, I was told I had a virus and should be in bed. My wife still objected to my missing work because she considered it to be "just a cough."
I missed a grand total of two days because of it. On one of them I wasn't able to stand, the other because I refused to get out of bed. Then, since I was staying home "doing nothing," my wife insisted I care for our two children (ages 3 and 1), rather than send them to my mother-in-law who baby-sits while we work.
Today a staff member called in sick with the same virus I had. Everyone looked at me as the responsible party.
If I stay home, my wife will dump the kids on me and give me the cold shoulder. If I go to work, I expose my co-workers and perform poorly. Help!
- At a total loss in Corpus Christi
DEAR TOTAL LOSS: It appears you married a woman who is not only lacking in empathy, but also is a controlling, slave-driving witch. Unless you can find the backbone to take control of the situation and stop acting like a victim, your wife will continue to punish you when you're least able to defend yourself - and nothing will change.
P.S. A teacher with a virus can not only infect co-workers and administrative staff, but also his students - not to mention his own children. Please point that out to "Simone Legree."
DEAR ABBY: The adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say ..." is easier said than done. When I am tired or stressed, I have a tendency to be less tolerant of others' quirks, and sometimes I voice my annoyance. While my opinions do have a basis, I sometimes feel guilty about insulting or hurting the person's feelings. I envy those who are strong enough to not allow the stress of certain situations to affect them.
I have never been a believer in "killing them with kindness" because that seems to enable their behavior. My intolerance is probably due to unhappiness about my own life. So how do I allow these annoyances to roll off my back and bite my tongue?
- Can't tolerate fools in Des Moines
DEAR CAN'T TOLERATE FOOLS: One way to do that would be to remind yourself that the more you take your unhappiness out on those around you, the more you will isolate yourself. When you are tired or stressed, and before shooting off your mouth, ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? And if what you were about to say is not all three, bite your tongue, zip your lip, or walk away until you get a grip.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.