Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife holds a high-profile position at a Fortune 500 company, and she is always in the company of powerful businesspeople. My wife is happy to have me as her husband, and she is always happy that I am able to accompany to her company's various events. However, I feel uncomfortable being with such powerful people. I am just a simple man, and at times I feel like I do not have any business being in the same room with my wife. How can I overcome my inadequacies? -- Out of Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR OUT OF PLACE: It is understandable that you could feel out of place at some of these high-powered functions. And it is possible to overcome that. For starters, remember that people are people. Yes, they may have more clout, money or stuff than you, but chances are you have something in common. You can find out by asking questions about their hobbies, their children, their family members. Also, talk to the spouses of the business leaders who are likely seated at your table. Often the other half of a power couple is not as powerful, workwise. In fact, the spouse -- male or female -- could feel a bit intimidated as well. By engaging these people in simple conversation, you may discover that you can feel more at ease.

Don't underestimate yourself, either. Your wife is happy to have you as her husband for a reason, probably because you are, in your words, "a simple man." Feel good about who you are and how you live your life. When asked about yourself, share what makes you happy and how you spend your time. You may be surprised at how interesting you really are to others!

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in a new relationship with a man who says he wants to be exclusive and committed with me. I love his company, and he treats me well -- except for one thing. I have noticed he is very frugal, and we only go out to places that are inexpensive, like pizza, matinee movies and two-for-one dinners. I appreciate a man who is conscientious about spending money; however, he needs to splurge and take me to a nice restaurant from time to time.

Well, my boyfriend finally decided to take me out to a fancy restaurant. We had a great time at dinner, but when the bill came around, he asked me if I could cover the bill. I did willingly, but it did not feel right. The man should pay the majority of the time, especially in the first few months of dating. I cannot afford to pay for half our dates, and this makes me think he will not be a good provider in the future. What are your thoughts? -- Too Frugal, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR TOO FRUGAL: I think you need to have an honest talk with your guy. It may be that he cannot afford more than he is offering rather than being stingy or overly frugal. I do like the idea of a man footing the bills early on in a romance, but I am clear that people's wallets are not always full, especially these days. If you believe you are going to commit to this man, you need to talk about values, dreams, goals and finances. Put it all on the table.