Amy: Can she change tone when she's angry?

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • December 10, 2012 - 2:57 PM

Dear Amy: I am in the process of reconciling with my ex-husband. There's just one problem standing in the way of our happiness. He and our grown daughter don't like the way I express my anger through my tone of voice.

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

For example, my ex and I were recently driving home from a visit to our children. I told him he was going 45 miles per hour 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. 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?

Amy says: 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 a real-life 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?

Husky gone 'wild'

Dear Amy: 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 am furious about this! This dog is not cared for. It is basically wild!

My husband told me to handle it. What a mess.

Amy says: I hope you saved some scorn for your own 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 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 with a "no pets" clause. All tenants -- no matter whom they are related to -- should sign and abide by the lease.

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.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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