Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My girlfriend has a serious problem: She is constantly checking her various social media pages to see if people responded to her status updates. My girlfriend's phone stays attached to her hand. We went to dinner last week, and she looked at her phone every 10 minutes. At one point, I was talking to the top of her head because she was checking her phone. There is a point where we need to put down our smartphones and enjoy the magical moments of life. I would love for you to help me convey this feeling to my girlfriend. -- Low-Tech Boyfriend, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR LOW-TECH BOYFRIEND: Your desire to spend quality time with your girlfriend is perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, it is also quite common for people to get so caught up in their social media experiences that they forget where they are or who is with them.

I talk a lot about the need to strike a balance between technology and humanity. Without balance, technology takes over people's lives and can leave little room for precious human interaction.

Some couples have found solutions. One idea is to agree to put away all electronic devices during dates, or at least during the course of a meal. Another idea is to put your electronics in a bowl at the front door when you get home, only to pick them up again just before you are going out again. Hard to do, but definitely worth it! Ask your girlfriend to consider a compromise that makes room for the two of you to enjoy each other's company.

DEAR HARRIETTE: We got a car, but my wife refuses to learn how to drive. I decided to purchase the car after our second child was born. She believes that the man should drive his family around. I understand where she is coming from, but this man needs to work as well just to keep food in the refrigerator and a roof over our heads. The car is at her disposal while I am at work, but she would rather take a cab or the subway. I encouraged her to take some driving lessons, but she refuses. I would like to find a happy medium before I get burnt out. -- Driving My Family, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR DRIVING MY FAMILY: Sounds like your wife is afraid to drive. That is not unusual considering that she is an adult who has never been behind the wheel. Many people in New York City do not drive, as I am certain you know, because public transportation makes it easy and affordable to get around.

For now, do not press your wife. That is not going to result in the solution you want. Instead, use the car when you need to. And help your wife plan how she can fulfill the duties that are hers. If she can get her tasks handled via public transportation, so be it.