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#11 Father & daughter communication problem / Same barriers with husband as with father

DEAR ABBY: My 79-year-old father visits our home and loves to work on projects like trimming bushes and repairing things. He gets very sweaty and takes frequent breaks by coming in the house and sitting in his favorite chair, my cherished fabric covered recliner. After his visits my chair smells of sweat. I have had it cleaned twice, and now we are expecting him again.

I would like to put a large towel on the chair before he arrives, but my husband says Dad will be offended. Would this be rude? I doubt that my chair can take many more cleanings. LOOKING FOR A TACTFUL WAY

DEAR LOOKING: Purchase an inexpensive, washable throw or slip cover for your recliner. Your cherished chair will be protected and Dad will be none the wiser. —ABBY

Gabby's Response

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Gabby’s Response:  

Hi Looking: I'm concerned that your husband prefers that you be offended rather than your Dad.* If I were your father I'd be offended to discover that people were talking behind my back, you and your husband, and you and a columnist.

Most importantly, if I were your dad I'd be extremely disappointed to discover that I had trained my daughter to be afraid to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously with me. Worse, that I had supported her in marrying someone who supports such gossip. A responsible husband would have said something like, "Would you like me to be with you when you talk to my dad about the chair?"

This is about much more than smelly upholstery. It's a wake-up call for your personal integrity. It's about communication mastery. If you support hiding such things from others you automatically create others talking behind your back, because they are afraid . . . for reasons. I assure you that you are withholding thoughts from your husband as is he withholding his thoughts of choice from you, again, for reasons.

It could be said that your father is putting the finishing touches on your education. He'll know he's done a great job when his daughter isn't afraid to speak her mind to him, spontaneously, on any subject. In the old days, a dad would feel proud and accomplished when his teen-son threatened to hit him. The relationship immediately was transformed, from relating from fear and condescension to one of mutual respect as adults. Things have changed now but the same results can be produced without threats of abuse. 

Do show all concerned these communications.

Thank you, Gabby

* I wonder how your husband would react if your dad got into your husband's brand new, right out of the showroom car, with his sweaty, smelly clothes. My point being, your husband's position reveals that you have not extracted from him a slew of acknowledgments having to do with how much time and thought you've spent in providing a wonderful nice smelling home.  For example:  "Tell me you appreciate me doing the dishes." "Tell me you appreciate that I wash and fold your clothes." "Thank me for keeping our toilets clean." "Guess who needs to be acknowledged for cleaning the house today?" If you don't train your spouse to acknowledge you you are unconsciously masterminding a divorce. The litany of classic-victim-reasons would include, "He doesn't respect my points of view." He doesn't acknowledge my worth," "He won't listen to me, he doesn't understand me." And the biggie, "He always takes my parent's side." and other such blames (see breakdowns in communication).

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 12/7/12)

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[ #12 Should I stay in this relationship? / Is boyfriend mirroring me? ]

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