Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I just reconnected with a childhood friend whose family took in my sister and me when we were little. We hadn't seen each other for more than 40 years. It was a wonderful reunion, except that my childhood friend felt guilty for not having gotten in touch sooner. I tried to let her know that there are no hard feelings, but it was not easy for her to accept. After a while, the conversation got awkward. I really want to stay in touch with her, but I hope she doesn't belabor the past. Her family was kind to us when we were young, and it would be really cool to get to know each other as adults. The only thing is, I don't want to have to listen to the guilt trip every time. How can I get her to chill so we can just talk? We don't live in the same town, so it will take effort on both of our parts. -- Reconnecting, Orlando, Fla.

DEAR RECONNECTING: Who knows what your friend remembers about your past? What you can do is assure her that what you are grateful for is the present and the opportunity to get to know each other now. Make recommendations for how you can stay in touch. You can talk on the phone, Skype and visit on occasion if you think you would like that. By demonstrating that you want to make the effort to be in her life, you may be able to allay her fears and any demons she is harboring from the past.

At some point, you may have to listen to some of her memories, but focus on the here and now at first so that you all can grow to like each other as adults. Then see how things unfold.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband is out of control. Every time we visit with people, he makes lewd comments about me and constantly uses sexual innuendo. I find this demeaning and terribly embarrassing. I have told him many times how much I dislike this behavior, and he just laughs at me and continues. The last time we were together with a group, he really went off and tried groping me in front of people and just generally acting like an ignorant teenager. I can't stand it and am not sure how to get him to stop. Please help! -- Disgusted, New York City

DEAR DISGUSTED: Since your husband blows off your comments about his behavior, you need to give him a different kind of wake-up call. Next time you go out, use your camera phone or camera to record him in action. He may need to see how foul his actions are in order to believe you. Your commentary won't be nearly as important if you can hit "play" and show him what he has been doing. Hopefully, that can start a healthy conversation. If not, you may need to seek therapy to get support in turning a respectful corner.