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Originally published Monday, January 13, 2014 at 5:15 AM

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For husband’s sake, have patience with house guests

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax on nightmare house guests and ambivalent fathers-to-be.


Syndicated columnist

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: We have had houseguests for a week. They are (thankfully) leaving today. It’s my husband’s friend and his wife. They wanted to visit the major city we live in. I expected our place to be their crash pad, and that we would hang out in limited amounts. But instead they have wanted to hang out almost every evening after work. I have bowed out approximately half the time and let my husband deal with them on his own. I don’t really click with the wife.

The couple themselves don’t get along, and they have started arguing with each other pretty badly. I feel like I did my part by agreeing to let these near strangers stay in my guest room. I was not interested in playing tour guide or entertaining them for more than one or two evenings. I thought we made it clear when they planned their trip that we would be busy with work and would have limited time to hang out with them.

I think the husband has been leaning on us because he really hates spending time alone with his wife, but frankly I don’t view that as my problem. I am struggling with my resentment and irritability toward them. My husband is more generous and sympathetic, especially since his friend is stuck in a terrible marriage.

How would you parse this? Is my perspective reasonable or am I being a (w)itch?

— Host

DEAR HOST: I’ve found that it’s almost impossible for people who are not in this moment with you to judge how nuts you can feel in this moment. Nothing brings out the crazy quite like having someone in your personal space for too long.

Actually, your houseguests could speak to this pretty well themselves, since their own overstaying houseguest is their spouse. Painful.

So, no, I don’t fault you for your irritability, though sympathy might help. If you can’t summon any for this unhappy couple, then maybe you can for your husband, who just cares about his friend. That bit of conscious warmth — plus the imminent end of your house arrest — might be all you need to rally, which in turn will be good for your marriage.

Given your aggravation levels, by the way, excusing yourself from half the festivities was the right call.

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband and I are expecting our first child, and I’m struggling with the feeling that he is kind of ambivalent about it. He was never really a kid-oriented person, but was open to our trying. He’s also a kind, dutiful person who will most likely be an amazing father. Now that it’s happening, I can see him trying to pump himself up about the idea, but the ambivalence is still there. Any thought you might have to help me untangle some of my fears would be much appreciated!

— Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: This might not untangle your fears so much as kick them down the road: Parents bond with their kids at their own pace. Babies in utero can be too abstract for fathers in particular to feel engaged.

Once the child arrives, seek comfort in your husband’s caregiving effort — that “kind, dutiful” heavy lifting — even if he’s a little slow to be head-over-heels. So often, the effort becomes the bond.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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