Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend just informed me that he is taking his ex-wife to dinner for her birthday. He said that it is not romantic. He says she has been ill for the past year and he wants to cheer her up. Should I be jealous? -- Just Wondering, Boston

DEAR JUST WONDERING: If indeed your boyfriend is being kind to his former wife to lighten her heart, that sounds like a great thing. It shows that he is a thoughtful person who did not forget her even though they divorced. Further, since he told you about the dinner, he is not trying to cover it up. That's another point in his favor.

Friendliness after divorce is a positive sign. People are not always good together as couples, but that does not mean they have to hate each other or never speak again. You should worry only if you get a sense that the spark is reignited between them.

Instead of becoming suspicious, be curious. Ask your boyfriend about his ex-wife's health -- what is wrong with her, how she is managing and if she has a support system. Find out what role he thinks he should play in her care. By gathering information, you will learn what to expect moving forward.

DEAR HARRIETTE: This is in response to "Lending a Hand" in Memphis, Tenn., who was concerned about helping her aunt return to college at age 60. I am the director of Graduate Memphis, an initiative that helps such adults finish their education. Our advisers help people select the right school and program to meet their needs, find financial aid if necessary and complete college applications. We stay with the students, as a mentor and adviser, until they graduate.

Your reader's aunt can call our center at 901-415-2774 or visit our website ( for more information. Our services are free. We'd be happy to help her.

Having an undereducated work force is one of the big problems facing our economy. Some companies cannot fill jobs and high unemployment exists in some areas because people don't have the specialized skills needed in today's high-tech workplaces. Cities with better-educated work forces tend to have higher tax revenues, less crime, lower poverty rates and citizens who use fewer city services. It's a win-win for everyone.

Initiatives are under way in many cities throughout the country. I encourage any of your readers who have not finished at least a two-year degree to look into the services offered in their locality. They may be surprised at the help that's available. -- Director, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR DIRECTOR: Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. One of the most daunting aspects of going to college -- at any age -- is the application process. It is a relief to know that your organization and many like it exist across the country.