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Ask Amy

Ask Amy column

Q. My boss wants to take my small team (less than 10 people) out to a movie after work as a sort of employee appreciation/team-building event.

I accepted the invitation about three weeks ago. I just found out that the movie is raunchy. I don’t have much of an issue with sexual humor in my personal life, but it’s not something I feel comfortable experiencing with co-workers.

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My boss has already purchased tickets, so I would feel guilty to decline at this point. I am a new employee, and everyone else has said that they are excited to see this particular movie, so I don’t want to stand out as a weird new person. However, the idea of seeing this film with my co-workers makes me extremely uncomfortable. What can I do?

A. Taking a group of employees to a movie as a team-building event is a terrible idea. Movie-watching is a passive activity where there is no interaction among participants. Teams are built through idea sharing, recreation, and cooperation. This evening sounds more like a bad first date.

Because of the professional ramifications and awkwardness here (another reason why this event is a bad idea), you should respond to it the way you might when you find yourself trapped on a bad date: Take a seat near the aisle. Once the thing gets under way, you can duck out (if you want to). Then you can have a nice leisurely telephone call with your mom or check your e-mail from the theater lobby.

When the movie ends, you can participate in whatever other (hopefully not horrific) activity the boss has planned, and if people ask you where you were or why you didn’t stay in the film, be honest and say, “I was feeling a little squeamish and so I ducked out, but tell me — was it good? Did you guys like it?”

See what I did there? It’s called misdirection, and it’s a nonjudgmental way to be engaged and disengaged at the same time — a skill you may rely on repeatedly through your professional life.

Q. I am 62 years old and have been married for more than 30 years to a woman whom I am financially dependent on.

Our marriage has had its ups and downs, but overall it has remained steadily positive, and the love between us seems fairly strong, at least on the surface.

Recently, my wife met a man at church (I don’t go) whom she looks forward to seeing. The man is also married. We’ve gone out with him and his wife a few times, and every time we do I get the unsettling feeling that the man is remarkably compatible with my wife, and that he would like to be more than friends.

I’m not sure if my wife suspects this, or if she would be interested in taking their relationship further, but I can’t stop thinking where this may lead. And I’m not sure if I should talk to my wife about their relationship or let it go.

A. The fact that you are financially dependent on your wife seems to have affected your mojo. You need to snatch it back. If you can manage to go to church, it might be a good idea to share this activity with your wife. If you don’t want to do this, then at least stop being so passive about it. You should good-naturedly acknowledge their compatibility and let her know that you’re jealous — but in a good way.

If this relationship seems to deepen, you’re going to have to be more proactive. Your marriage should be at the center of your wife’s emotional life.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.
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