Advice | I can handle anything at the office — why can’t I fix my marriage? Ask Ellie

Q: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 our grandparents emigrated here from different countries. 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

A: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 You’d talk about “refreshing” employees’ goals, and “revising” some outdated or inefficient practices.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 — e.g., perhaps pursuing fitness together (it’s 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 stressing your differences.

Q: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

A:Greed and entitlement are hard to accept. Your daughter’s already benefited 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.

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.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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