Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ask Kelli: Wife Wants to Talk; Friend Wants to Hide Gift; Daughter-In-Law Wants Weight Comments to Stop

by Kelli Miller

Dear Kelli,

It seems whenever I talk to my husband about something serious or something I’m upset about he doesn’t really respond. He always says, “Can we talk about it later?” It’s so frustrating. I'm getting the message that he doesn’t want to have serious conversations and only wants light and superficial talks. What can I do?

Seriously Need to Talk

Dear Seriously Need to Talk,

My first piece of advice is to figure out the best time to talk to your husband. I’m guessing it’s on the weekend when stresses are at the lowest. If you’re approaching your husband immediately after work or when he’s sitting down to watch his favorite show, he is probably not going to be as receptive. So the timing is the first thing you need to figure out.

Second, hold him accountable. If you’ve chosen a good time and he’s still shutting you down, ask him when a good time would be. Get him pin down an exact time and date.

Finally, offer a fun plan or activity afterward. You can say something like, “I know it isn’t fun to talk about X but after we're done, we'll go out to that movie you've been wanting to see." It would be especially good if you agreed to do something he particularly likes that you have not been keen to do.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

My good friend gave me a statue for Christmas that she made herself. It was kind of her...but Kelli, it’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen! I have put it on my desk to show my appreciation (she comes over a lot) but honestly, I can’t stand to look at it. We obviously have different tastes. I’d like to take it down but I don’t want to insult her.

What do you suggest?

Hide It?

Dear Hide It,

You’re right, it was kind of your friend to create this piece for you, and this is a delicate matter. First, remember it was given out of love. So maybe your first step is to look beyond the aesthetics of the statue and remember the idea behind it: that your friend treasures your relationship and appreciates you. But if that's not enough to get you to keep the statue in sight, you could try either of these two strategies:

First, keep the statue up for another few weeks and then switch it to an inconspicuous location. 

Or: Keep the statue up for another few weeks and then take it down. But be prepared for when your friend asks you where it is. Tell her sincerely that you very much value the statue as something she created for you, and you love her for making it, but you don't think it's right for your desk. Even though you're not displaying it, tell her you'll always keep it and treasure it as you treasure your friendship -- and hope she is a good enough friend to understand that this is about differences in aesthetic tastes and nothing more.

All the best,


Dear Kelli,

My mother-in-law will sometimes make comments about my weight. I’m not skinny but I’m definitely not obese. I’d probably say I’m chubby. My husband loves me the way I am. And I’m actually okay with my body. But my mother-in-law will make inappropriate comments, such as, “Should you be eating that?” or “Don’t you want to lose weight?” I usually just smile and suck it up but it's starting to get to me. I don’t want to ruin our relationship but I really can’t take these hurtful comments anymore.

Okay with My Weight

Dear Okay with Your Weight,

You are okay with your weight and you have to remember it’s your mother-in-law who isn’t. Which translates to: She’s not happy with a part of herself. If your mother-in-law was truly secure, she wouldn’t be pointing out other people’s weight. I say this so you don’t internalize her comments.

This is a job for your husband. When dealing with mothers-in-law, I say always defer to the husband (and vice-versa for him). I’d keep yourself out of it and advise your husband to say: “Mom, I overheard you say…” rather than “Kim told me you said this…”

The important point here is that it is out of line for your mother-in-law to be making these kinds of comments. Your husband should tell her that both he and you are happy with who you are, and she needs to be as well. He should let her know that you both love your mother-in-law but her comments are hurtful and inappropriate. He should be clear that this topic is off-limits and make sure that she has gotten the message.

All the best,


Kelli Miller, MSW is a therapist, author, and radio personality. Miller was a featured expert for SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 198, the co-host for the TV show Love and Money: The Advice Show, and the advice columnist for Playboy U, and the author of Professor Kelli’s Guide to Finding a Husband. Ask Kelli is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv on Wednesdays.  

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the statue, you neglected the easiest remedy of all: Statues fall and get broken all the time.