Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Husband thinks you should “lose weight” for your New Year resolution? Son verbally abused you and not sure how to handle it?

DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I are making new year resolutions for 2020. He told me at the top of my list I should “work on losing weight.” I became really upset. I do have some weight to lose, but the fact that he pointed it out to me hurt my feelings and made me feel unattractive. We ended up in a huge fight and we aren’t speaking. He doesn’t think that he said anything wrong because I complain to him all the time about my weight. I think he owes me a sincere apology. What do you think?  -- STILL WAITING

DEAR STILL WAITING: Yikes, you better tell him that in 2020 you hope his resolution is to work on being a nicer husband. The idea that he would say such a hurtful thing to you makes me wonder what else he says or does to you. Regardless of whether you want to lose weight, a partner is supposed to be someone you can count on to support and uplift you. There is nothing supportive or uplifting about telling someone that they need to lose weight. Instead of criticizing you, he could have offered to eat healthier with you in 2020 or take an exercise class together. Working out and eating right is always easier when you have someone else along for the journey. What you need is support and love. If he can’t provide that for you in 2020, maybe your resolution should be finding someone who will. Let’s leave emotionally abusive partners behind us as we enter a new decade. If he can’t get on board with that, what are you holding on to him for?

DEAR NATALIE: My son, who has always treated me with respect in the past, suddenly blew up at me after taking me on a few errands. He yelled at me and used foul language. I am still in shock. I think something was bothering him earlier in the day and he took it out on me. He has since apologized (it didn’t sound sincere) and wants to move on. I can forgive, but I am having a hard time forgetting. Any advice as to how I can move forward?  -- UPSET MOTHER

DEAR UPSET MOTHER: I certainly don’t blame you for being hurt. It isn’t right for him to take out his feelings on you. If he was upset about something, he either should have talked to you about it or discussed it with a friend or partner. Please recognize that having a bad day is not an excuse to verbally attack you. His half-hearted apology only made things worse because he seemed to feel obligated to apologize. He didn’t recognize his behavior was inappropriate and completely uncalled for. The sad thing is, when you rely on someone for help, they can sometimes take advantage of that dynamic and act out. It may seem a little scary to ask him for another apology since the power scale is a bit tipped in his direction. In any case, if this was an isolated incident and doesn’t happen again, try to put it behind you and move forward. However, if he acts out again, you may need to say something. As long as you don’t feel in physical danger, it is important that you set boundaries with anyone in your life, including your children. He doesn’t have the right to mistreat you. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, no matter our age.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Need a few conversation starters that don’t involve “What do you do for a living?” Try these: “What brought you to this event?” “What do you think about the event?” “How do you know (insert person’s name here)”? These open-ended questions may get the person to start talking about themselves and kick off a conversation.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email,; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)