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Ask Lisi: Old wound could be reopening with mother-in-law

Ask husband why relationship has cooled
Lisi Tesher, for Ask Ellie column

Dear Lisi: Many years ago, I was on the phone with a good friend throwing shade at my new mother-in-law. I had NO IDEA that she had walked in the house with my husband and could hear everything I said. While I went on and on, she turned around and left. My husband offered to drive her home.

When he returned, the proverbial s*** hit the fan. He was livid! Obviously, I was beyond embarrassed and totally apologetic. I immediately drove over to my mother-in-law’s house with a big bunch of flowers and apologized profusely.

She was so gracious that I was even more mortified and ashamed. She ushered me out of her home as quickly as I had entered, and I returned to my husband with my tail between my legs.

He wouldn’t speak to me for the rest of the night, which I had to accept and understand.

We’ve made it past that, and my mother-in-law and I have had an exceptional relationship over the course of the past eight years. But lately, something has changed. I feel as though the old wound is reopening and I’m not sure why.

Should I pre-empt it and make mention of the past? Or ride this wave and see what happens?

In-law disrespect

I suggest you speak to your husband and find out if he knows what’s going on. Assuming he’s not gaslighting you, if he says he doesn’t, then ask him what he thinks is the best course of action. If he does admit to knowing that his mom is reliving the incident, ask him why, and again, what he thinks you should do about it.

Dear Lisi: I’ve been working for an agency for two years. I applied for another position in the organization, and I was successful in obtaining it. Then I was given a new contract with a start date in June. I have been very excited to start mainly because it would only be day shifts and at 65, I am struggling with working 12.5 hours overnight.

Yesterday, a schedule came out and I am on the schedule in my old job until August, with two months of overnight shifts after being promised no more overnights. On top of it, all the other folks on my team who received promotions have started their new position.

There was no discussion of why and I am so upset that I don’t want to talk to them. I feel I will say things which, although honest, will not help my job to remain professional and respectful.

What do I do?

Tossed Aside

You speak up for yourself, that’s what you do. You are your best advocate. Gather the appropriate paperwork, that is, the letter stating the acceptance of your new position, the new contract with the June start date, and the specification that this position would only be day shifts. Once you have everything, set up a meeting with HR and your current supervisor.

If for any reason you feel insecure or uncomfortable doing this alone, bring in a friend or family member for support. This is not a weakness on your part. You are emotionally affected by what has happened, which could cloud your judgment in the moment, and you want someone there to advocate on your behalf.

I obviously don’t have all the facts, but from your information, there seems to be a miscommunication within management. This could simply be an easy fix; however, I get the sense that your gut is telling you differently. There is nothing wrong with needing support during confrontational issues.

FEEDBACK Regarding the mixed-up vibe (May 8):

Reader - “This brought back memories of when my husband was teaching graduate students. They worked in small groups on yearlong major research projects, often meeting at our house. I would confirm or rearrange their meeting times. Amusingly, the group leaders would often sign off by saying, ‘OK, I’ll tell the other kids.’

“Many of these students had been in the workforce and were closer to 30 than 20. Yet they still thought of themselves as kids! Fifty is the new 40 — and, I guess, 25 is the new 15.

“My generation looked forward to adulthood — perhaps because one didn’t get adult privileges before attaining that status — and we stopped regarding ourselves as kids by the end of our teens or sooner (like those who were already married with children). Showered with adult privileges while still in their mid-teens, many of today’s young seem to fear adult responsibilities.”

Lisi Tesher is an advice columnist based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions to [email protected]