Wife of elected of­fi­cial feels the burn

Kingston Whig-Standard - - LIFE - AMY DICK­IN­SON

Dear Amy: My hus­band of 40-plus years, “Paul,” is an elected of­fi­cial in our city. Paul is also in­volved in politics on the state and na­tional level.

He is clearly re­spected. Peo­ple of­ten en­gage me when he is not around and ask how he feels about a cer­tain is­sue or can­di­date.

If I an­swer, I of­ten find my­self em­broiled in an un­com­fort­able con­ver­sa­tion. I have tried redi­rect­ing peo­ple to Paul, but they usu­ally barge ahead with their com­ments. Be­cause of my mar­riage, they seem to as­sume that politics is “my thing” too.

This is get­ting more and more chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially in to­day’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate. I’m try­ing to come up with a state­ment that will let peo­ple know I want to stay away from po­lit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions. Should I say, “Could we please talk about other things — I’m on a po­lit­i­cal fast?”

I want to be both tact­ful and clear about my in­ten­tions. What can you sug­gest? — THE WIFE Dear Wife: I like your re­sponse — it is clear and po­lite. Fol­low­ing up your state­ment with a ques­tion di­rected at your in­quisi­tor might fur­ther re­di­rect the con­ver­sa­tion, al­though it does oc­cur to me that even a po­lite query about the weather (“Wow, can you be­lieve this drought?”) can be made po­lit­i­cal th­ese days.

I fur­ther sug­gest car­ry­ing a sup­ply of your hus­band’s busi­ness cards. You can hand one out and say, “I can’t speak for my hus­band, but his email ad­dress in on here; I hope you will feel free to get in touch with him.”

I face this is­sue (to a lesser ex­tent) be­cause of the work I do. And so when I’m hav­ing cof­fee at the lo­cal diner and some­one ap­proaches me with a per­sonal prob­lem they would like me to try to fix, I will some­times say, “That sounds like a good ques­tion for my column. Why don’t you send it to me and I’ll see if I can tackle it?” This is a way to try to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional, which is what you are po­litely try­ing to do.

Dear Amy: I went out with a girl over three week­ends in a row. Then we had school hol­i­days, so I haven’t seen her for three weeks.

I feel that she was (hope­fully still is) very at­tracted to me. I think she sees that I am at­tracted to her, too.

Yes­ter­day, I sent her an in­stant mes­sage to ask her out again.

She said Satur­day was pos­si­ble but that she didn’t know if our rou­tine of meet­ing once a week was good for us. She asked if this was good for me. I said, “Yes!” She said, “I just feel it’s not good for us to make a rou­tine of our dates. My in­tu­ition says it’s not good.”

I re­sponded, “OK, but we can meet this week­end, right?” She said, “I can’t. I am sorry!” I think I know what’s hap­pen­ing. I think she feels our dates are maybe too in­tense in this early stage.

I was think­ing of tex­ting her tonight and ask­ing her to tell me ex­actly what her prob­lem is, and ask­ing her if she doesn’t want to go out with me any­more.

What do you think? What should I do? — S, IN EAST ASIA

Dear S: Ask­ing some­one, “What, ex­actly, is your prob­lem?” is neg­a­tive, and a lit­tle ag­gres­sive. This girl is telling you that she wants to put the brakes on the speedy progress of your re­la­tion­ship.

The kind and re­spect­ful thing to do is to re­spond, “OK, I un­der­stand. Let me know what works for you. I’ll wait to hear back from you.”

Step­ping back a lit­tle bit and giv­ing her the space to make her own choice may in­spire her to move for­ward.

Dear Amy: I’d like to ap­plaud your an­swer to “Won­der­ing Mom,” who asked how much de­tail she should give her daugh­ter about al­leged hos­tile be­hav­ior she ex­pe­ri­enced from the child’s fa­ther.

I left my now ex-hus­band due to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, tak­ing my daugh­ter (who was a tod­dler at the time) with me.

As the years have passed and she asks why we don’t all spend time to­gether, as tempt­ing as it has oc­ca­sion­ally been to throw him un­der the bus, my scripted an­swer is that ev­ery­one is hap­pier and bet­ter off when Daddy and I don’t spend time to­gether ... and I re­in­force that we both love her. — HAP­PILY APART Dear Apart: Great an­swer. Thank you.

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