Question: The scenario, as unbiased as I can present it:
History: Wife never calls husband during day to chat.
Today: Wife is dropping son off at school and calls husband. Husband accidentally drops call when answering.
Question: What does husband do next? A) Call wife back to be sure all is OK (since she never calls him, and he dropped call). B) Ignore call.
Isn't there a clear response?
Answer: You mean the one you've already decided is the only clear response?
No. Mostly because I don't like being used against someone in an argument.
And I don't like shocked, shocked! holdouts for the answer you want instead of accepting the answer he gave, whatever it was.
Or certainty that someone else should feel a certain way (alarmed, in this case), used to justify outrage when the person feels otherwise (unfazed).
It's also not unthinkable, when a call is disconnected, to let the caller be the one to call back. It's easier when someone defers, lest a voice-mail nuisance ensue.
And he could have been in the middle of something when you called, reacted to the dropped call by making a mental note to call you right back as soon as his hands were free, gotten distracted, and not called back.
Why this fault-finding mission?
I found credible explanations for your husband's lack of urgency, so you could have, too. Right?
That leads me to my "clear response": There's a reason you chose to get and stay alarmed at your husband instead of writing this off as a onetime, inconsequential misunderstanding. There's a reason you see it as a big-enough deal to keep the issue alive until he agrees to see it your way.
That reason is what matters, whatever it is.
So figure out what's really bothering you, then explain it to your husband as the reason you won't let this go.
Question: I am a freshman in college, busy adjusting to college life. My parents never had issues "letting go." I speak to them periodically and never get any guilt trips about calling or visits.
The problem is my paternal grandmother. She lives several hours away, but she is always pestering me about when she will see me next. I saw her in December and January, and she just sent a guilt-trip email complaining that she had not heard from me. How do I handle this? I love my Grammy, but she expects more from me than my parents do.
Answer: You don't say whether Grammy is 55 or 85 - and age can bring a sense of urgency, enough to explain why she's more in your mug than your own parents are.
Regardless of her motivation, you'll be calmer if you recognize that no one "makes" anyone feel guilty. You alone determine whether you owe her more of an effort.
And she'll be calmer if she knows when her next "hit" is coming - not (just) because she's boundary-challenged, but because we're all wired that way to some degree. Decide on a contact-Grammy schedule you won't mind keeping - Wednesdays and Sundays? - program it into your phone, and stick to it, even with just a quick update or a photo. Staying close on your terms beats pushing back against hers.
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.