Dear Annie: A surprise letdown
Dear Annie: I am writing to you with a problem that probably seems pretty petty compared with some of the more life-or-death questions you get, but I am too embarrassed to bring it up with anyone else, so here goes.
I recently celebrated my 30th birthday. Weeks in advance, my husband promised me a great day. For weeks, I looked forward to it and imagined what he might have planned. We’d talked about hot air balloon rides not too long before that, so I was thinking that might be the secret plan.
The day arrived, and I woke up wondering what the plan was. Then I kept wondering. We watched TV and bummed around more than we usually would on a Saturday — which was a treat, in a way, but nothing special. Finally, around 6 p.m., he told me to get ready to go out; he had a surprise.
Well, he ended up taking me to a concert of one of his favorite bands. I like them, too, but he’s definitely the bigger fan. I tried to conceal my disappointment. It’s been a few weeks now, and I still find it nagging at the back of my mind. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Is there any way to address this with him without hurting his feelings? — Blah Birthday
Dear Blah: Expectation is the root of all disappointment. Though it’s perfectly healthy to have standards for how you’d like to be treated in your relationship, it’s important to learn how to manage expectations -- and to take the initiative when it’s really important to you that something go a certain way. I’ve known many people who love celebrating their birthdays in a big way, so they take the planning upon themselves. There’s no shame in that.
Finally, I would just give your husband the benefit of the doubt on this one and communicate more clearly about your wishes next time.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from “Crybaby,” the woman who is embarrassed by excessive crying. Whenever she feels an extreme emotion -- positive or negative — she cries.
I can empathize. I have the same problem, although for me it is almost always only for extremely positive emotions. The thing is that I am a man. Forgive the gender stereotype, but it is really inappropriate for a male to cry a lot, especially when it’s not even over anything bad.
Anyway, I once happened to sit next to a psychologist on a long train ride, and I confided my problem to him. He basically said, “Look, this is just the way your body is wired. Your emotions come out through your tear ducts. Some people react in other ‘inappropriate’ ways. In your case, it is through tears. Accept that this is the way you are, and don’t make a big deal of it, because chances are that this is not something you can change. It’s not harmful, and if you don’t make a big deal out of it, others will probably not, either. If they do, you can explain it any way you wish.”
When people do comment, which is really rare, I simply say something to the effect of, “When I get emotional in certain ways, the tears flow. I’m not really crying; I’m just shedding tears. Please just ignore it.”
If “Crybaby’s” husband cannot understand this about her, then they have a very serious problem of communication, and your advice to seek counseling over that was spot on. — Another Crier
Dear Another: I’m sure your empathetic words will make “Crybaby” feel less ashamed of her active tear ducts.
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