Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Compliments Put Cousin in a Whole New Light

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a whole new view of my cousin after meeting one of his friends while I was traveling for business. I have often thought of him as kind of slow and annoying. Really, he often gets on my nerves. So it was a big surprise to hear this friend of his go on and on about how fabulous he is and how well-read and great he is. Now, I know he is nice, but she poured it on. It got me to thinking that I have been passing judgment on him that is too harsh. Part of me wants to apologize to him for that, but I also don't want to draw attention to my not-so-nice thoughts. How can I acknowledge that my opinion has changed about him? -- Reconsidering Cousin, Miami

DEAR RECONSIDERING COUSIN: Why not start by telling him how nice it was to listen to his friend sing his praises? Recount your visit with his friend and be sure to detail the wonderful things she said about him. Admit that you did not know all of those things. Tell him how proud it made you feel to hear him being so fully celebrated.

Rather than going further to outline how you used to think about him, moving forward, treat him with greater respect.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I are in a lot of debt. We have been struggling for a long time and see little way out. The other day my husband suggested we cut off our cable to reduce expenses. I don't want to do that. We can't afford to go to the movies, so cable affords me the chance to watch movies and stuff. I know it is expensive, but I don't want to say yes to this. Am I being selfish? He says I am ridiculous because we can hardly pay the mortgage and I want to watch TV. But what will we do if we don't have cable? He and I hardly ever talk to each other. I don't think that is going to suddenly change. I know I may sound like a spoiled brat, but I don't want to agree to this. What are my options? -- Holding On, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR HOLDING ON: You and your husband have valid points that you should both consider. Clearly, if your shelter is in question because you cannot afford to pay your mortgage, cable TV should be less important.

I recommend that you and he sit down and create a budget that honestly outlines all of your debt and income so that you can see on paper where you stand. Itemize everything so that you have full disclosure. Next, research alternatives to the way you watch television. There are a number of options that are available these days that are much more affordable than traditional cable, everything from Netflix to Apple TV and more. It is possible for you to keep watching plenty of programs and still save money.