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home : columns : dear harriette February 5, 2016

   
8/5/2014 1:56:00 PM
Aunt's invasive questions bother reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: My aunt is super nosy. She constantly tries to read my Facebook messages over my shoulder, and she goes through my drawers when I'm out of the room without asking. She even asks me invasive questions about my love life, like what things I have physically done with other people. When she comes to visit, I feel like I never get any privacy, and her excuse is always that she can do what she wants because she's family. How can I tell her that I find what she's doing very rude? -- Drawing the Line, Baltimore

DEAR DRAWING THE LINE: Drum up the courage to have a heart-to-heart with your aunt. Tell her how much you love and appreciate her. Then explain that her recent actions have upset you. Describe several incidents where you believe she violated your privacy. Tell her you know that she loves you and believes that she has your best interest at heart, but what she is doing is making you uncomfortable. Ask her to stop going through your things.

Stop answering her badgering questions. Close your computer when she comes by. And tell your mother everything so that she can have your back. You may have to allow someone to see all aspects of your life. Ask your mother to be that person and to be a buffer for your aunt.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I recently moved in together. We have a great relationship, and he definitely helps out around the house, but he constantly complains about having to do little things. I'm the primary breadwinner, so I pay most of the bills. He works from home, and he constantly complains about cooking one meal a day (dinner) and keeping the house neat, even though I am unable to do these things since I don't come home until 9 or 10 at night. He really doesn't have very much to do, and I don't appreciate his bad attitude. How can I bring up this topic without offending him? -- Striking a Balance, Brooklyn, New York

DEAR STRIKING A BALANCE: What you and your boyfriend need are house rules. You need to establish what the lines of responsibility generally are for each of you in your home based on need and availability. Ask him to participate in a family meeting. Tell him you want to talk about chores. Point out that as a team you two can do anything, and you want to make sure that you are both on the same team.

Be careful not to snub his work. Even though he works from home, he very well may work very hard during that time, and his efforts should absolutely be valued. Based on your schedule, however, it is practical for him to prepare dinner. Do you make breakfast? Make sure that you balance the meal prep by starting the day with some kind of meal that you prepare and serve.  

Talk about what has to get done, and remind your boyfriend that establishing a home together takes focus on both of your parts. Do not bring up your wage-earner status. Keep the conversation about duties and needs. Make a physical list and check off who is going to do what. Then ignore the attitude when it comes. It should fade away over time.

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)


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