Dear John: Lying to Her Face(book)
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
What’s your problem? Write to John at email@example.com.
A couple of weeks ago, I borrowed my husband's laptop, something I almost never do. He keeps his Facebook account logged in all the time and it was open. I started looking through his messages, more out of idle curiosity than expecting to find anything. We have a very open, trusting relationship. I did find a series of messages back and forth between him and an old girlfriend. But they were harmless - in one, he even talked about what a great life we have and how happy we are together. No problem, right? But then we had a conversation that I steered around to casually asking him if he kept in touch with any old girlfriends, and he scoffed at the idea. He flat-out lied about it. Now I'm just confused - I know he does and I know it's harmless, so why lie about it? To make it more complicated, I know I was wrong to go through his messages, so I don't want to tell him how I know he's lying. I'm trying to just forget about it, but that's not really working. What should I do?
Not Suspicious, Just Confused
Dear Not Suspicious,
I can’t possibly say why he’s lying, but I know who can: him. For a couple with a “very open, trusting relationship,” you have a lot of secrets. You have to clear the air. Start with what you did wrong. (And it was undoubtedly wrong. The only time it’s okay to go rifling through someone’s personal things, including email accounts, is when you have a compelling reason to believe something is seriously amiss in your relationship. You were just snooping, and you’re being pretty easy on yourself dismissing it as idle curiosity.) Admit you should not have been reading his messages, but what’s done is done, and you need an explanation for what you know is a lie. Then see what he has to say. There may be a relatively innocent explanation, or your relationship may be far less strong than you believe it to be. Either way, the two of you should get to the bottom of this with an honest conversation. Expect him to be angry at your violation of his privacy, but don’t let his anger divert the discussion away from the question at hand.
Now that fall is almost here, I am hoping to avoid a repeat of the past couple of Septembers. My husband and I have a ten-year-old son. My husband is a great dad who works hard, spends time with our son, etc. Our son plays in a fall soccer league in which the games are every Sunday afternoon for a couple of months. The problem is my husband is a huge football fan and the soccer games conflict with the Patriots games he loves to watch, and he chooses the Patriots games over the soccer games. He says he spends all his time doing things like working at his job, working around the house, etc, so he deserves three hours once a week to do what HE wants to do, and I understand that - he doesn't watch any other sports and he is never just sitting around doing nothing. But when I am at the games watching our son play, I feel so bad for him that his father is not there, and I know it would mean so much to him if he was. By the time I get home and see him sitting in front of the TV, I'm so mad! And by the way, he has already ruled out recording the games and watching them later. He says that's not the same. We fought about this all last soccer season and I don't want to repeat the same battles this year. Any suggestions?
Soccer Mom, Football Dad
Dear Soccer Mom,
This is about your husband’s priorities, and right now your husband is making his choice. If you want him to make a different choice, you have to make him look at his options a little differently.
Like a lot of fathers, he’s probably overworked and doesn’t get much time – or any – that’s just his. He’s not being unreasonable to want that, and you should acknowledge that. Trying to make him feel bad for the choice he’s making will only make him more stubborn.
Having said that, clearly he should be at your son’s soccer games. Your son is going to be young for what will seem like a fleeting moment. There will come a day when your home is empty and your husband would pay any price to simply be right where he is today, with a laughing ten-year-old son running up and down a soccer field. He is making a mistake he will never get to un-make. You have to find a loving way to make him see that.
Recording the games may not be as good as watching them live, but maybe he’ll compromise. Propose that he can sit undisturbed as soon as you all get home from soccer and watch the game without interruption.
Hopefully, he’ll make the right choice. If he doesn’t, though, continue to be as supportive of your son as you can and try to accept this, not because your expectations are unreasonable (they’re not) but because your son will come to dread Sundays if this becomes an ongoing battle. Not having his dad at his games is enough for him to have to deal with.
I have a friend at school who's always copying me. If I get a new pair of shoes, guess who has the same shoes the next week?? She does this with everything!! And then, last week another friend said, "Oh, you have the same shoes as her!" No, she has the same shoes as me! I like her and everything, how can I just get her to stop copying me?
Saw Them First
Dear Saw Them First,
I totally get how annoying this is. But instead of thinking of her as copying you, maybe you could think of her as looking up to you. Because that’s really what she’s doing. She admires your sense of style and she wants to present herself the way you do.
If she’s a good enough friend, maybe you could help her develop her own style. Go shopping with her and help her figure out what looks good on her. It’ll be fun and you’ll be teaching her something that just comes naturally to you. (You’re lucky – not everyone has a good eye for what they should wear.)
If she’s not that close a friend, though, there’s only one thing you can do: just keep being yourself and try to forget about it. You can’t control what anyone else does, but you can completely control how you react to it.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.