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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I am in the process of reconciling with my ex-husband. There’s just one problem standing in the way of our happiness. Both he and our grown daughter don’t like the way I express my anger, especially through my tone of voice.

I admit that I get emotional, but I maintain that everyone has emotions and should express them. Other people need to recognize how we feel; otherwise we’re always hiding our feelings!

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For example, over the Thanksgiving holiday, my ex and I were driving home from a visit to our children. I told him he was going 45 mph on the 65 mph expressway.

He said my tone was nasty. I said I was just telling him the facts, but maybe my tone was a little impatient. I wasn’t angry, so what’s so terrible about expressing my impatience? I feel they’re too touchy and won’t allow me to express my feelings. What do you think?

A. When the people who know and love you the most tell you the same thing, you have two choices: You can accept their criticism as an opportunity for change and growth, or you can get defensive, duck and cover, and deny the issue.

You have a right to express your emotions, anger, and frustration. You even have a right to point out that Mr. Slowpoke is holding up traffic. But you must acknowledge that a person’s tone of voice and body language speak volumes. In that vein, I wonder if you have the courage to face an experiment to see yourself the way others see you.

Ask your daughter and her father to imitate how you sound when you’re “expressing” yourself. Your job is to record their impersonations, laugh at yourself in the moment, and then review the “game film” in private. Ask yourself: Can you authentically and respectfully express your emotions differently?

Q. My husband and I own a small rental house, which our daughter and son rent from us. They have one roommate, whom I love. One problem: Her mother bought her a Siberian husky! Originally, I told them no pets allowed. Eventually they all acquired dogs I didn’t know about.

The husky is destroying the house and yard. I guess I am partly to blame because I should have watched them more closely. We are looking for new homes for the dogs my kids have, but not the husky.

My husband is angry with me and told me to handle it.

A. I hope you saved a little scorn for your offspring, who are either hard of hearing, not paying attention, or willingly stepping over your rules because they know that when they do you will act like the Worst Landlord Ever and swoop in to fix a problem that is not yours — but theirs.

Tell all three tenants that they can find new homes for their dogs or they can find new homes for themselves and their dogs.

If you don’t have a lease agreement, draw one up. Insert a “no pets” clause.

My heart goes out to the poor husky. If it is large, wild and poses a danger to other animals or people, you should contact your local animal control officer.

Q. “Sad” is living with a man who is obviously an alcoholic.

You were too gentle with her. You should have told her to drag him to an AA meeting or else leave the relationship.

A. You cannot drag someone to an AA meeting. You can make choices about what you can and cannot tolerate from a partner.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.
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