Ask amy Amy Dickinson

April 04, 2010|By Tribune Media Services

DEAR AMY: My husband has begun traveling frequently for work. He spends extravagantly, often putting large charges on our credit card, which we've agreed to pay off, not put more charges on.

He drinks excessively. Recently, he fell asleep drunk in a hotel bathroom. (A co-worker found him there.) He rarely drinks at home - maybe a beer with dinner out once or twice a month.

When I ask him why this continues to happen, even though he promises not to do any of these things each time he leaves, he says he "doesn't know why" he does it and can't explain it. He tells me that most of the money he spends is on gifts for me, which is true, and I thank him, but I tell him I'd rather save our money for a vacation together or paying off debt.

I've tried to make things easier on him at home so his work travel doesn't have to be such an escape for him, but that doesn't seem to be helping. The behavior is unprofessional and reckless. It's just not like my normally responsible husband.

How else can I get my point across without nagging? Is it time to see a counselor? - Frustrated Wife

DEAR FRUSTRATED: It's definitely time to see a counselor. Your husband is bingeing. He's binge drinking, binge spending and out of control when he's on the road. And he doesn't know (or claims not to know) why he's behaving this way.

This could be a reaction triggered by stress - at home or at work. Or it could be a relapse of an earlier problem he hasn't told you about. Because this seems to be happening regularly, he should see a professional to explore what's going on.

Don't frame this as a household budgeting issue but as a mystery that worries you to the core. Urge him into therapy before his employer does.

DEAR AMY: A mom who wrote to you was concerned about her teenage daughter being sarcastic, unpleasant and losing friends.

My daughter also has issues relating to her peers in a way that isn't sarcastic. She's also very straightforward, even if it's not always nice.

We'd been working with her on this, but she was resisting. She thought she didn't need to change. Her counselor suggested we videotape her and let her see it.

She was relaying a story from school with us, and we had her say it again on tape. When we showed it to her, she was shocked. She couldn't believe how her face looked and how she sounded. We are now having a much easier time working with her on reframing her statements.

Sometimes a picture (or video) is worth a thousand arguments. - Relieved Mom

DEAR RELIEVED: People who have trouble reading social cues often need training to learn this important skill. Viewing photos or video of other people's facial expressions can actually teach recognition.

Your daughter's therapist had a great idea - to show your daughter her own face.

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