EDITOR’S NOTE: Annie is on vacation this week. This column originally appeared in July 2016.
Dear Annie: My wife is nuts. She cannot make a decision. She never values her own opinion. She asks others what they think. It’s incredibly frustrating.
When she shops, she always asks the people working at the store for their opinion of the clothes she’s trying on. When we go out to dinner, she asks the waiter what she should order. She is close with her parents and asks their advice on everything.
And yes, she asks me my advice all the time, but I actually don’t mind that. It’s part of the job. I get it. I ask for her advice, as well. What bothers me is when she asks for my advice and then asks five co-workers, family members or strangers. I also don’t like to be asked multiple times about the same thing.
Should I wear the blue dress or the white one? Should I get the fish or the steak? Should I apply to this job or stay put? Navy or tan? Flats or heels? Inhale or exhale?
I know that I should be thankful that she is seeking advice, but where does it end? Am I being unreasonable here? What should I do?
— Deciding Dan
Dear Deciding: Let’s rewind to that first paragraph: “She never values her own opinion.” Bull’s-eye! You’ve struck the heart of the matter.
It sounds as if your wife has low self-esteem. She doesn’t have confidence in her own judgment. And by asking you (and friends, family members, unwitting people in line at the grocery, the UPS guy, etc.) to decide for her, she doesn’t have to blame herself if it turns out she’s made the wrong decision. She is probably not even aware that that’s her motivation.
So you have to proceed a bit delicately here. You can’t very well scold her out of having low self-esteem, (Somehow, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do anything yourself?” doesn’t exactly inspire soaring self-confidence.)
What you can do is make her feel better about herself. Build her up. Compliment her decisions. The next time you’re out to a steak dinner and she’s wearing her white dress and navy heels, tell her how gorgeous she looks and what a great pick the restaurant was.
If she feels validated and confident in making her own decisions, she’ll start acting more independently.
Until then, be patient. Remember to tell yourself to inhale and exhale, too.
Dear Annie: My husband’s father died recently, and he’s the executor of his dad’s estate.
There’s not much there, but it is taking an inordinate amount of his time to sort it all out. My husband is self-employed, and it’s cutting into his income substantially. I don’t want to complain, because he’s still so sad about the death, but the bills keep coming.
I am concerned this task will have a domino effect and hurt our finances in the long term.
— Worried About the Will
Dear Worried: Try to be more understanding, and do what you can to help with the bills, the work and anything else to make it easier on him.
If his mental state doesn’t improve in the weeks and months to come, suggest grief counseling and offer to go with him. This too shall pass.
Dear Annie: My husband and I had a precious loved one passed away a while ago, and through the years they had bought a lot of military clothing and accessories through military clothing and Army surplus stores online.
We want to sell this stuff as we no longer have room for all of it. We live in a very small area and so far no one wants all this stuff; even thrift stores don’t want it. Any suggestions on what to do or reputable websites that would buy this would be greatly appreciated.
— Too Patriotic
Dear Too Patriotic: Online resale platforms such as eBay and Etsy will be your best allies in finding new homes for this surplus of Army surplus gear. Both platforms are reputable and have built-in security and fraud-prevention measures that offer you means of recourse should someone not pay for the item.
You might also look into sending the items to a textile recycling organization, such as the American Textile Recycling Service; visit atrscorp.com to learn more about contributing clothes and even hosting your own donation box.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to email@example.com.