DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have just moved into our new house. This is our first time as homeowners, and we are so excited! But we do not agree on anything as far as decor.
One day, I found several cans of blue paint in the basement. When I asked my husband about them, he enthusiastically declared that he has plans to paint the walls of the basement lounge this very dark shade of blue.
While I hate this idea, I do not want to shoot down my husband's happiness. How do we come up with some sort of compromise? -- Worried Wife, Brooklyn, N.Y.
DEAR WORRIED WIFE: You and your husband have not only a new house but also a whole new experience before you.
Sit down with your husband and acknowledge how big your project is. Tell him that you realize the two of you haven't made a plan together for designing and furnishing your new home. Tell him that you realize you aren't on the same page and that you think it's important to come to agreement on your plans, even if that means that you "agree to disagree."
Point out that you aren't a fan of the dark blue paint he bought for the basement, and ask if he might reconsider. Ask if there's anything you've come up with for the home that he doesn't love.
To get him interested in this sharing idea, he has to believe that you both make choices that aren't the favorite of the other. Then you realize there's common ground where you can meet.
The two of you can look at design books and TV shows to glean ideas. You also can go to your local home store, such as Home Depot or Lowe's, and get a free consultation from a professional to help set you on track.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I would like to break what I see as a nasty habit. For the past three years, I have smoked four cigarettes and drunk two cups of coffee every morning before 8 a.m. If I don't stop smoking, I know I'm going to incur health problems that could have been easily avoided. Do you have any ideas? -- Hard Habit to Break, Union, N.J.
DEAR HARD HABIT: Congratulate yourself on being clear that your behavior is unhealthy. I wonder why this has been your habit for three years? Did something happen three years ago that upset you? Sometimes bad habits begin as a way of filling an emotional hole. I recommend that you go back in your memory to see if something triggered this behavior.
Beyond that, now's the time for help. Of course there's the chance that you can will yourself to stop smoking and drinking coffee, but both tobacco and caffeine are addictive and can be hard to walk away from.
Get a physical and ask your doctor to recommend some support for ending smoking. Quit smoking first, and then move to the coffee. Consider replacing one cup of coffee with water. Set a goal that you will drink only one cup of coffee per day by the end of the year.