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Dear Constance,

I wanted to write in because I have a problem with my husband. My boyfriend keeps meeting up with his ex-girlfriend! They don’t have kids (we’re planning on having kids) and yet they seem to hang out way too much. I’m talking coffee appointments, lunches, and (pre-covid) activities like working out and hiking. I don’t mind my husband having friends. I don’t want to be that girlfriend who makes her man stay home at all times. But I’m not going to lie, this makes me uncomfortable. They broke up for a reason, so why the sudden interest? What’s this all about? I’ve brought it up and I’ve even looked through his phone looking for anything that shouldn’t be going on. There’s no evidence of anything out of the ordinary. I keep bringing it up and he keeps telling me the same old thing, “We’re just friends and we like to hang out.” or “We broke up so we could be friends.” They didn’t talk for the longest time and right when we got together about a year ago, she popped up. As a woman, I’m suspicious. What do I do Constance? 

Annoyed by an Ex in LA

Dear Annoyed,

I get this question alot, this seems like one of those really common problems! It looks like, based on your note, that he isn’t actively stepping outside the relationship sexually but perhaps he is stepping out emotionally. The fact that he isn’t really taking your concerns seriously is the most concerning part. His points are valid but the fact that he isn’t responsive to your concerns is the real issue here. It’s time to get past those tag lines and get to the real issue, what does she do that he isn’t finding in this relationship? You may find that there is an area for your relationship to improve. Conversely, you may find that all is in order and they really are just friends. At which point, you may want to see what it is about their friendship that truly makes you uncomfortable and address that issue. 

Good Luck!

Workplace Doormat…Help!

Hi Constance,

I have a little bit of a work problem. I work in a small family business and I’m struggling to stand up for myself. The family that owns the business is great and they’ve always treated me well except for the fact that they really like to dump a lot of work on me. On the bright side, I’ve learned a lot about the floral business (we’re florists) and I handle a lot of the online orders and other things. I feel like I’ve become an integral part of the business. The problem is that it seems like any time something new is started or there’s an emergency the attitude is, “Oh [with held} will just handle it.” It’s exhausting! I haven’t had a pay increase in about 5 years and no real promotion or title change. I just take care of whatever it is. I stay late and everything. It’s been super hard for my husband and kids. My husband wants me to quit but I’m nervous because of the pandemic. Jobs aren’t easy to find right now. He wants me to start saying no or get more money. I guess I’ve been a bit of a doormat and I need to stand up for myself. Help!

Covered in Carnations in Council Bluffs

Dear Carnations,

This is a common problem is small mom-and-pop businesses. They often don’t have the HR policies and resources of a larger firm meaning that there’s nowhere for someone like you to go which leaves you having to stand up for yourself. So here’s what you can do. Make a list of your tasks, every day for a week. Every time you do something, write it down. In your off time, research about how much other people in your industry are getting paid and see how it differs from your compensation. Then, after a week, schedule a talk with the owners and approach them with the list. Approach them with the compensation data that you’ve researched and make your offer, you’re willing to stay for the new amount. Here’s the kicker: you’ve got to be willing to walk away from this environment. I know finding a new job may be hard and I’m not sure how the market is in Council Bluffs but continuing to enable their behavior only hurts you. You might get more money or it might be time to move on. Have you considered starting your own floral shop?

Good Luck! 

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