DEAR HARRIETTE: My office mate went on a planned vacation and had a great time, so great that she stayed an extra week and a half. When she returned, she didn't apologize for her delay in returning. Instead, she chastised me for not completing a project on time. Well, I needed her participation. She had a big role in getting this proposal together. I did my best, but we have different levels of expertise.
Now she's angry, but she doesn't accept any responsibility for her role in this. I feel like I need to address the situation. I'm not mad that she had a good vacation, but I am upset that she shirked her responsibilities and is now blaming me for her actions. -- Teed Off, Detroit
DEAR TEED OFF: By all means, talk to your office mate about what happened. You can genuinely apologize for missing the deadline and then point out that you think the deadline was missed because she did not do her part. Review the timeline that you two had established, and point out where you see discrepancies.
State the obvious -- that your office mate overstayed her vacation and, in turn, was not at the office and focused on the work that she needed to handle. Acknowledge that time off is important but that doing what you agree to do for your job is of equal value.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I think you missed the boat in your reply to "Upgrade My Man" and in telling her ways to encourage her husband to dress better. She is trying to CHANGE him! She is disrespecting him, and he will not like it. She needs to be grateful if she has a good man and leave him alone. If not, some other woman will like him in his sloppy clothes, and he will be drawn to a woman who does not criticize or manipulate him. -- Happily Married Woman, Jackson, Miss.
DEAR HAPPILY MARRIED WOMAN: So many people have commented on this topic that I wanted to add your voice and continue the discussion a bit.
On the one hand, I understand your position that you should not try to "change" your partner. That effort usually ends miserably, primarily because change is tough. Even if a person wants to change, it can be one of the most difficult tasks to complete with success -- whether the change is cosmetic, behavioral or otherwise. Further, the goal in a marriage should not be to change your spouse but instead to offer unconditional love.
I also think, however, that there is nothing wrong with asking your partner to dress up on occasion and do something special together. I don't know why that has to seem like manipulation. And it certainly should not be conveyed as criticism. The way you handle any situation is what's most important.
Should you lose sleep over your husband's sloppy attire? Of course not. But an occasional festive change of clothes doesn't seem to me to be too much to ask.