DEAR HARRIETTE: My assistant comes to work late every day. I have talked to him about it many times. When he arrives, he does a decent job, but it's a problem for me that he comes late -- I'm talking an hour late. I have a small company, and I rely on him. I don't pay him a lot, but he agreed to the salary. I'm afraid that if I fire him, I may not be able to find someone to do the job for the amount I have to offer. What should I do? -- Irritated Boss, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR IRRITATED BOSS: The level of compromise that you are allowing will not help you to grow your business. Do not tolerate your assistant's lackadaisical behavior. Give him a warning in writing and then fire him unless he immediately becomes professional.
You might be better off having no assistant in-house, and instead hiring a "virtual" assistant to support you. You can arrange to have someone virtually answer your telephone calls, handle correspondence, do bookkeeping -- pretty much anything that doesn't absolutely require a person to be in the room with you. You also can have virtual meetings where you see each other, thanks to Skype and other video communications tools. Such virtual arrangements are a common solution for small businesses these days.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm pretty sure my husband is cheating on me. He has been acting weird. A few times in the past few weeks, he has come home late and smelling of women's perfume. He has not wanted to do anything with me, especially intimately. I am so devastated, but I'm afraid to ask him about it. I don't want to lose him.
My girlfriend told me that she just looks the other way when her husband does what she calls "his business." I don't know if I can overlook it. I want my marriage to be good. What should I do? -- At a Loss, Detroit
DEAR AT A LOSS: If you want to save your marriage, you have to muster the courage to confront your husband. During a neutral time, like a Saturday afternoon when you don't have work responsibilities to pull either of you away from a conversation, tell him you need to talk.
Tell him that you suspect he is having an affair. Ask if he is in a relationship with someone or if he is sleeping with someone else. He may not answer. Describe your fears and the incidents that have made you suspicious.
Stake your claim. Tell him that you want to fight for your marriage and that you are unwilling to share him with another woman. Ask if he wants to stay married and if he is willing to tell you the truth about what's going on.
Push him to be honest with you. If you are to stay married, you will have to figure out how to talk this through and make decisions about the future.