Ask Athena: You Do You

While there’s no ‘i’ in team, there is a ‘me.’

Q: There’s a big age difference between me and my husband, and he’s always on my case about how much I’m on my phone – he says it’s rude. Fine. But then every night after dinner we pick a show to watch together and he falls asleep on the couch. If I wake him up, though, he’s all grumpy. That’s not fair! If I have to get off the phone, he has to stay awake. I say it’s the same thing, am I right?
 ~ Seeing Red


It’s not the age difference that’s the problem here. It’s the failure to figure out how to get on the happiness train together. The problem is all over your short question. It doesn’t matter how youthful you are, the question is whether you spend so much time on the phone that you ignore people around you.

And, why watch a movie ‘together’ when you both know he won’t be watching it after the introduction credits? The solution? Talk about the phone. Maybe have an agreement about when you will put it down as it relates to being with him. Otherwise, he needs to drop it and let you do what you want.

Likewise, pick a movie time when he can watch the whole movie. Or, find something else to do after dinner that won’t put him to sleep, like a nice walk around the neighborhood. The answer is not deciding that you both should be miserable an equal amount of time. It is deciding how to enjoy each other’s company — and also your alone time.

Q: About a year ago, I was invited to participate in a neighborhood committee on a subject very dear to my heart. I have had no luck however getting any of my ideas acknowledged, even after they’ve been implemented. Part of me is just happy to see progress being made – I should be grateful to have had the chance to influence real policy, right? But whenever the Board praises my team members without mentioning my contribution (which was significant), it bugs me. Is there a nice way to ask for credit, without sounding petty?
~ The Invisible Woman

A: Well, no. You are being kind of petty. Your team is getting credit; that is the how you are getting acknowledged for your good work.

If you were telling me that other people were getting praised while you were not, then it would be time to make your contribution known. But that’s not what you are saying. You want to be called out individually, above your teammates. Sorry, you might have led the team, or been the best in the team, the smartest, or the hardest worker. But it’s a team and the whole team is being praised.

You have to turn this around. You need to find ways to be thankful. Invite your team out for a celebration. Give a toast to everyone for their contribution. Enjoy your success. I want to thank you for your service and dedication. Volunteers are a special breed and really make neighborhoods and the City run better. All of the volunteers are contributing in their own way.

If that is not enough for you, maybe you need to look hard at why you are volunteering. If you need to be acknowledged, it might be time to look for a better fit, where your individual merit would be recognized. I am sure there are many volunteer opportunities where you work on your own. That might give you more personal satisfaction. Maybe run for a leadership position in the community organization.

Until then, though, keep contributing your great ideas. Smile to yourself when they get implemented. That is the best credit you can receive.

AGREE? DISAGREE? Please comment below.

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Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 44 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

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