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Q: My boyfriend “James” and I have been together for three years – lived together for almost two years. Every Christmas, we have the same conversation about presents: how much we should spend on each other. The fact is, James doesn’t earn nearly as much as I do, so he is less able to afford big-ticket items. That’s OK with me. I don’t expect and don’t want him to go into debt to buy me something too expense for his budget.
On the other hand, I don’t know why I shouldn’t be able to buy James something more expensive. It’s not a problem for me and I want to do it – and I know he would like what I would get him.
In the past, he has won on this issue. We’ve decided on a price range and I have stuck to it, albeit on the high end of it.
This year I want to get him a GPS. It is out of our price range, but it would be so good for him as he can’t find his way out of a paper bag. He gets lost all the time. And I know that he would love it.
I don’t get why he worries so much about how much something costs. Jody, I’d appreciate it if you could say something that would change his mind. Also: Do you have any ideas how to deal with this problem?
A: I think you need to back up and understand why James feels the way he does. I suggest you listen to his feelings on this matter and honor them. If getting him something expensive, something in a price range that he can’t afford, doesn’t make him feel good, why would you want to do that?
One way of dealing with this problem is to share income. In this arrangement, there would be one pot of money and you both could decide how much you’d be spending for presents, without having to consider incomes.
Watch out, road!
Q: I don’t like riding in the car with my partner “Karin.” She says that I’m just being difficult when I won’t get in the car with her. She also says that I’m a complete pacifist and that’s my problem.
My problem is that she’s a hot head behind the wheel. This is really strange since she’s not like that at any other time or situation in her life. We’ve been together for three years, and I’ve never seen her blow her top except behind the wheel of a car; it’s like she’s possessed. She yells, makes rude gestures, pulls out and passes slow drivers and all but clips them coming back into her lane – blowing her horn the whole time.
Yesterday, she actually bumped the car in front of us because the guy didn’t pull out from a traffic light fast enough for her. (This of course pissed off the guy, and we were lucky to escape with our lives.)
I don’t know what to do about this as she doesn’t seem to see a problem with this – though she’s rational in other parts of her life. Do you have an idea why she does this? How can I get her to see that there is something wrong with this behavior?
A: Regrettably, you can’t “get her to see” something that she doesn’t want to see. But you can refuse to ride with her or insist on doing the driving when you are going to be in the car with her. Hopefully, some cop will someday help her see the light – before she hurts herself or someone else.
Unfortunately, there are too many drivers out on the road like Karin. It seems that when some people get behind the wheel of a car, they take out all their anger and frustrations (that they have been building up) and direct them toward other drivers on the road. They seem to feel a certain amount of anonymity in the shell of their vehicles, so they think they can act out their anger – with impunity – while driving.