DEAR AMY: My supervisor frequently asks staff for monetary contributions for his fundraisers and walkathons for various causes — including his church. I think this is an inappropriate use of his power. He is very persistent. It is one thing to put up a flier in the break room so people could participate (as desired) to a cause, but he confronts everyone individually and repeatedly. Some people understandably have a hard time declining.
I know he means well, but supporting a church or charity really should be each person's choice. He makes more than everyone in the company, except the owner, and does not seem to have any understanding of financial hardship. When someone tried to opt out with the reason of having an expensive car repair, he suggested buying a new car. He doesn't get that if fixing the car is taxing on the finances, buying a new one is simply not an option.
I don't know how to handle this. He would not respond well to being told it is inappropriate, and it is too small a company to have an HR department. This happens at least once a month, and it's hard to keep coming up with excuses. What else can my co-workers and I do?
— Sick of Forced Funding
DEAR SICK: Forcing employees to support a religious institution or cause is wrong — and may be illegal (certainly if there are negative consequences if you don't donate). I agree that this is inappropriate and an abuse of power. You need not advocate for other co-workers, but you should arrive at a strategy that works for you.
You needn't tell this supervisor that his efforts are inappropriate. What you can say is, "I'm sorry, but I can't contribute. I do my donating outside of work." Do not offer specific explanations or excuses. (This will only inspire him to challenge you.) Be firm and friendly: "Gosh, I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."
DEAR AMY: I was recently married, and a problem I was hoping would get better seems to be getting worse. My wife seems to have no interest in sex — even though she says she does.
We've been married for a month and have yet to consummate the marriage. When I try talking to her about it, she supplies myriad reasons, and I'm made to look like a sex-crazed bad guy.
I love my wife and love intimacy with her. When we first started dating, we made love a few times a week. Then it became once or twice a month, and now it's maybe every month or two. I really don't know what to do. Is this normal?
— Tired in Tennessee
DEAR TIRED: This is not "normal," but when it comes to the complexity of human sexual relationships, normal is definitely a relative term.
Most importantly, your wife's sexual behavior has changed radically, and she is not offering an honest explanation for her challenge. Maybe she is hedging because she is not really sure what is going on, but her refusal to work with you to address this important issue is the most troubling aspect of her behavior.
The emotional intimacy of your marriage is as important as your sexual intimacy. She is choosing to blame you rather than include you as part of the solution. She should see a physician to rule out medical issues, and the two of you must see a counselor together. Learning how to discuss challenges openly and peacefully is a skill that will serve both of you through life.
If your wife refuses to address this in an honest way, you have some tough choices to make. So far, the longer-term health of your young marriage is at risk.
DEAR AMY: I'm responding to the letter from "To Work or Not to Work," the at-home mom who was insecure about possessing a college degree and "not using" her education. When my children were younger, I said the same thing to my mother, and she gave me what I consider to be the perfect answer: "You use your education every time you open your mouth."
— Pam, in Sammamish, Wash.
DEAR PAM: Perfect answer.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.