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Ask Ellie: Time to use management skills in marriage

personal relationships can also benefit from encouragement

Dear Ellie: I’m a woman, 44, with a senior job in management of a large company including staff from many diverse backgrounds. I’ve been with the company for nine years, during which I’ve won “star manager” awards.

I love my work, but I’m often at a loss for knowing how to improve my marriage. We’ve been together for six years (second marriage).

We’re from different backgrounds of religion, and different countries from where our grandparents emigrated here. He’s a decent man who also works hard at his job.

We own a small house together and he’s always nice and accepting of my daughter, 21, who lives with her boyfriend.

But I feel this marriage also won’t last. I’m strong-minded, he hates discussions, and sometimes just walks away.

I’ve decided that either we talk about improving our relationship, or a year from now I’m going to end it! What’s your advice?

Failing at Marriage

If this were a management meeting, you’d know exactly how to proceed. You’d talk about “refreshing” employees’ goals, and “revising” some outdated or inefficient practices.

You’d encourage your staff, ask for their ideas, praise them for every positive suggestion.

And you certainly wouldn’t wait a year of feeling dissatisfied before directly addressing problems.

This doesn’t mean lecturing your partner and insisting you’re right on every topic. That’s not “managing” anything, it’s just winding yourself up and, very likely, just pushing him away.

You know how to “manage” people and projects as part of your business skills. Now, work at “renewing” your relationship. It’s an even more important goal.

Stress what’s mutually common, more than differences — for example, perhaps pursuing fitness together (a major stress reliever and can also increase sex drive), or a love of music, attending baseball games, etc.

And, influence your partner by positive examples at home, rather than stress your differences.

Dear Ellie: I sold my cottage last year due to poor health and told my daughter that the money from the sale would be hers, meaning when I die.

I was 83 and had given her $200,000 over the past years. She arrived the next day to receive the money. I explained that I may need it for a retirement home. She left in fury.

She was driving me, for the first time, to my eye appointment and was so angry at other drivers, the restaurant she wanted me to take her to, just everything. It never occurred to me why.

She was later nasty to me and drove me home, leaving me in tears. I tried to ask my intelligent 18-year-old grandson to talk to her but received a very nasty message from my daughter’s wife!

We no longer communicate and I miss my grandchildren very much. But I cannot tolerate such greed. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Hurt and Disgusted

Greed and entitlement are hard to accept. Your daughter’s already benefitted from your generosity over the years. Holding onto your cottage proceeds for a place to live, when needed, is the wise choice. Currently, it’s very unlikely that your daughter and her partner would invite you to live with them.

Try to stay connected with your grandchildren through texts, invitations to visit you, meet for lunch, etc. Do not discuss the money issue with them.

You have every right and need to take care of yourself first and foremost, at this time.

Feedback: Regarding the young woman, 19, urged by her boyfriend to marry secretly, then soon given a black eye (May 25):

Reader: “I’m sorry for the account of male domestic violence and glad the woman’s now safe. The perpetrator must be brought to justice, and helped, otherwise his behaviour will continue.

“Sad Canadian statistics: For every one hockey brain injury, 5,500 women suffer from male intimate-partner violence brain injuries.

“Annually, 200,000 Canadian women suffer from male intimate-partner violence. (These are only the reported, documented cases.)

“We need to talk openly about this, to deal with it and prevent injuries to other women and children.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Use your workplace skills for encouraging best business practices. Then, recognize that personal relationships can also benefit from encouragement rather than disagreements, and shared free-time activities.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.