Dear Annie: “Clint” and I have been married for 25 years and have two teenage children. We have been together since I was 14. He is a very supportive husband and father, and we all love him dearly.
Clint has always been the life of the party. People never know what to expect when they invite him out. His joking can range from throwing small particles of food at someone to taking off his clothes. Sometimes his remarks can be insulting. We have lost old friends because of his actions.
Everyone knows Clint loves the attention, and he definitely finds himself entertaining. But his jokes are old, and I have asked him to grow up and act his age. Recently, we were in a restaurant and he threw water out of a bottle at my girlfriend. He sprayed her along with other people in the restaurant. They were not impressed. Clint left the restaurant not realizing he had offended my girlfriend, but she told me she’s had enough.
Clint and I are happy when we are alone, but when we are out, he is a very immature man. We get into heated arguments when we leave gatherings. He is in such denial that he finds nothing wrong with what he does.
I know Clint reads your column faithfully. Please tell him how to conduct himself in the company of others. — The Joker’s Wife
Dear Joker’s Wife: Clint is behaving like a parody of a drunken frat boy, and if you are losing friends, it means he has no self-discipline. Some of these episodes sound like poor impulse control or even the manic side of bipolar disorder. Instead of fighting with him, speak calmly and explain that his behavior is costing both of you a great deal and if he is unable to stop, he needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. Clint, if you’re reading this, knock it off or get some help.
Dear Annie: I recently got a new job and I love it, but my co-workers are making it miserable to be at work. They are always gossiping about everyone and trying to find others’ mistakes. With even the smallest error, they send out an e-mail telling everyone about it and copy our boss.
There is another new person working here who feels as I do, but we don’t know what to do. We both try to find positive things to say, but the others constantly throw negative things out there. We cannot go to our boss because she has a negative attitude also. Maybe that is where they get it.
We have to work together as a team, but it is very hard. Do you have any suggestions? — Louisville, Ky.
Dear Louisville: If the boss projects a negative attitude, it can pervade the entire workplace. You can try speaking to her, without accusing her or anyone else of this behavior, and explain that this interferes with your ability to do a good job and enjoy your work. If that doesn’t help, you and your friend can maintain your own island of optimism within your office, but that’s about it. And if you find yourself copying your co-workers, you ought to look for another job.
Dear Annie: When I read “Joanna’s” letter about her husband saying hurtful things at her expense under the guise of being a joke, it reminded me of how I handled my husband when he started doing those things.
We were at some friends’ house playing board games, and when I did something he didn’t like, he would say, “That was a stupid thing to do.” I warned him not to say things like that in front of our friends and family, but he continued, so the next time, I responded, “Well, everyone here knows I’m not very smart because look who I married.” Everyone laughed and he never did it again. — Problem Solved
Dear Problem Solved: Touché!
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger on 11.09.07