DEAR HARRIETTE: I asked my sister if we could celebrate my husband's birthday at her place because they have a really nice house and a pool. I was trying to figure out a way to make something fun for him -- it is a big birthday -- even though typically he doesn't like big parties. He usually likes to hang out with my family, so I thought it would be a winning idea. I did have the presence of mind to run it by him after I got the OK from my sister, since in the end the celebration is for him. Turns out, he doesn't like the idea at all. I had asked him several times before and he shrugged it off, but he finally told me his preference.
Now I have to tell my sister that we won't need her generous offer anymore. I know she's my sister, but I feel bad. How should I handle it? -- Sensitive Sister, Boston
DEAR SENSITIVE SISTER: Since you prefaced your request to your sister with the knowledge that you hadn't asked your husband yet, it is likely that she will understand. I think it was wise for you to verify whether it was even possible with her before broaching it with your husband. Just call your sister and tell her that when you discussed birthday plans with your husband, he actually had another idea in mind. Thank her for being willing to welcome your family for his big day. If it makes logistical sense, by all means invite your sister and her family to the celebration that you ultimately decide to have.