DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-wife recently contacted me to tell me she has fallen on hard times. She had remarried some years back, and her husband turned out to be a jerk. He was abusive, and she finally got the courage to leave. She has been picking up the pieces of her life for a few years, including moving into her own apartment, getting a job and trying to get her act together. I felt sorry for her when she called. We have been apart for many years, but there is no animosity between us. I think she would like for us to be friends. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to get caught up in her issues, but I do care about her. What should I do? -- Ex Mess, Des Moines, Iowa
DEAR EX MESS: Many people who were once married remain friends and connect here and there over the years. There’s nothing wrong with that. It sounds like your ex-wife could use a friend and confidant, someone she can trust to share what’s going on with her and to be a cheerleader of sorts. If you have the emotional space to fill those shoes, go for it. You don’t have to become everything for her. You should create boundaries for yourself so that you don’t get totally sucked into her world. But talking to her on the phone occasionally, meeting for tea or coffee and just being a presence in her life could make a huge impact on her situation right now.