Iíve just launched a brand new advice column in a small town-city daily paper. As Iíve gone around promoting the column, everyone Iíve met has told me what a great idea they think it is, and how excited they are to start reading it. Iíve received fan mail already from readers who read the sample columns I used to sell the editor on the idea. He ran them to give readers a taste of what to expect, and everyone loved them.
So hereís my problem. Though the locals seem to love the idea of the column, none of them are writing in with questions. I canít believe no one in the entire county has a problem that could benefit from a fresh point of view. Maybe itís just that everyone is too shy, or afraid their issue will be recognizable. Or maybe theyíre waiting to see what other people write in about before sending off their letters.
Sadly, if there are no letters, there can be no column. So please tell my readers that if they want the fun, irreverent, entertaining read this column will provide, they have to do their part. Send questions!
Thanks for any help you can offer,
Let me just give you my take on this. If no one needs advice, scrap the idea and go spend your time writing something that pays better. Your novels are doing really well, and you have a bunch coming out between now and December. So do you really need to be doing this column thing? It was just for fun anyway, and if no oneís participating, itís not fun.
Look, for all you know, everyone in the county has a perfect life, a perfect relationship with their lover, perfect relationships with their kids, parents, friends, neighbors, bosses, teachers, students and relatives. They are utterly content with their jobs, incomes, homes, hobbies, marriages and sex lives. They donít need advice on health, fitness, diet or exercise. Theyíre all lean and toned and everyoneís in the pink of health. You never see anyone frowning on the streets because everyone is so deliriously happy and content. They donít want or need advice. Everyone is physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally flawless. So leave them alone if they donít want to come out and play.
As an aside, it must be a really cool place to live; a place where no one in the entire county has a single problem. It sounds like Disneyland!
(Dear readers Ė OK, I admit it. I wrote the above ďDear MaggieĒ letter to myself. Donít make me do it again!)
†My husband has, during the past year, developed heart problems.† One year later, after several procedures, it has yet to be corrected.††Heart problems run in his family, especially the male side, so it isnít a surprise.† However, he has responded in an ostrich manner to this news, and only moves forward with new treatments when I am so angry at him that I could bust with frustration.†
Additionally, he has been an absolute bear.† My sweet, kind husband has recently taken the form of a touretteís patient on crack.† He is driving me nuts!
†I am trying very hard to be patient and understand, but enough is enough already.† I truly believe that allowing him to behave in this manner is enabling him to continue.† Do you agree?† I have recommended counseling, but the testosterone response is no different in my house than anyone elseís, ďNOĒ.
Wait a sec. Youíre under the impression that you can ďallowĒ your husband to act the way you want? And how is that working out for you so far? Short of using a shock collar, I donít see this happening.
He has his own path to walk, and you have yours. You canít control the actions of another person. So youíre asking the wrong question. Your real question is this: Do you want to be with him, or not?
If the answer is yes, then my best advice is to pay more attention to the things he does that you like, and less attention to the things he does that drive you crazy. Comment on the things he does that make you smile. Ignore the things he does that drive you nuts. Walk away when heís being a bear. Say, ďI donít like being around you when you act this way.Ē And then hasten to add, ďBut I love when you sit and watch a movie with me and we laugh at the same parts together. And I love when you reach over and take my hand for no reason. And I absolutely adore when you look into my eyes in that way you have. And I remember so well all the reasons I fell in love with you. Youíre brilliant, and youíre kind, and youíre caring, and youíre so beautiful to me. And I know all those reasons are still there. And I love when you do healthy things for your body, because itís a body that has meant so much to me for so long. So Iím just going to ignore the way youíre acting right now, and go away somewhere to think about all the things I love about you.Ē And then do just that.
You will, inevitably, inspire in him more of the things you love and less of the things you donít.
Remember above all, his body is his body. His health is his health. You can disagree with the decisions he makes about his health care, but you canít control them. Respect his decisions, even if you think they are the wrong ones. Tell him you disagree because you love him and want him to be around for a long time. Research his options, show him the data, tell him your opinions in a loving way. But in the end, let him decide for himself. And when he does take positive steps toward his health, (and he will) shower him with praise and tell him how good it makes you feel, and how much you respect his judgment and wisdom in taking that step.
Youíll be very surprised at the results youíll inspire. Not only that, but your relationship will be far stronger for it.
I hasten to add that you are not babying him or enabling him or even tricking him by doing this. What youíre changing is yourself, and your focus and your attitude. You get more of whatever it is you focus on. So if your focus is on his bad decisions and grumpy behavior, thatís what you get more of. Shift that focus to the positive things about him, and youíll get more of those. Itís a natural law, like gravity. Itís not possible for it to be otherwise.
Wishing you both healing and patience,
Do you have a question for Maggie?
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And sheíll answer it in a future column!
(All letters are anonymous)