Dear Amy: My boyfriend and his ex-wife (currently divorcing) still have a lot of contact because they share two dogs. Every time they talk/exchange dogs, it turns into a fight.
He still has a lot of anger toward her, and despite how much he says that he is happier now, he can't seem to move past his own anger.
I am starting to think that he enjoys all the fighting and drama. His goal seems to be to get back at her, not move on.
I see a forever future with him, but I don't know how to help him get over all the hostility.
Amy says: Your boyfriend is divorcing (but not yet divorced). Because he still seems so anchored to his ex-wife, you should consider the possibility that it is too soon for him to be in a serious relationship. It's not because it is morally "wrong" to date when you are not yet divorced, but because in this case, this not-yet-divorced man is still in an active relationship with his ex. He is still "biting the hook," in that he is triggered and perhaps also seeking conflict.
His hostility is his responsibility, and he needs to want to relinquish it in order to find effective ways to release it. Compassionate professional counseling would help.
The two of them could also look for ways to ease the tension when exchanging custody of their animals. One obvious idea is to enlist a patient mutual friend to agree to temporarily be the drop-off point for the animals, so that these two bickering humans don't physically encounter one another (although people can still find other ways to do battle).
If the dogs are together and seem to do well at each home, another idea is to make the custody period longer (say a month at each house) in order to reduce the number of personal encounters.
You should take a careful look at this dynamic and ask yourself if it is actually good for you to be with someone who doesn't seem to have finished the emotional work of his marriage.
Stick to task at hand
Dear Amy: How should I personally deal with a boss whose disorganization and lack of will to get more organized is causing me stress and annoyance?
This assignment is a short-term gig (two months), but I need to find a way to correct, get over or accept the disorganization in order to increase my quality of life and sanity on the job.
Amy says: Unless you were hired to organize your boss' life and business, then you will have to tolerate the challenges.
In short, do your job to the best of your ability. Achieve the goal for which you were contracted.
Your job does not exist to serve you, in order to "increase the quality of your life." Your stress and annoyance are of lesser consequence in this context.
In order for you to feel better about the situation, remind yourself that you are not there to fix the world. You are there to do a specific job.
It might help for you to approach this challenge as if it has landed in your life to teach you something. What can you learn from this? One thing is that you cannot always control your surroundings — or the way other people move through the world. Another lesson is that you might have to specifically choose assignments and workplaces where your organizational skills will be a valued asset, in order to decrease your own stress, and also to serve the organization.
Work through your two months, do a top-quality job, achieve the goals for which you were contracted, and move on to the next gig.
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