Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband of 15 years gave me a boring gift for my birthday that really did not reflect my personality at all. The good news is, he did give it to me on the morning of my birthday.

I was pretty conflicted over this, but when I told a friend, she said she wished that the corny birthday gift her husband gave her every year like clockwork would come again this year. He died a few years back. She really made me see how petty I was being. We reminisced about how she would complain every birthday about how lame his little present was. Now she longs for it.

Why is it that we never get what we want or appreciate what we have? -- Frustrated, Los Angeles

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I hope you gave your husband an extra-special thank-you after hearing your friend's experience of mourning. Her story was an important reality check that helped give you perspective.

Sure, it would be amazing if your husband got it exactly right and presented you with a gift that inspired the biggest smile. Maybe you can get there by gently helping him know the things you like during the course of the year -- not by pointing out that you thought his gift was mediocre. As the saying goes, it really is the thought that counts. He did think about you on your special day.

Another way to promote better understanding of what kinds of gifts you might appreciate is to be more fully present with each other. Sometimes when couples have been together a long time, they slip into taking each other for granted. Refresh your commitment to each other by talking about your likes and dislikes, your preferences and desires. You may end up rekindling your bond -- the best gift of all.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just read your letter about the gal who wanted to lose 20 pounds, and it echoed a similar scenario with my friends.

A month ago we were all playing bunco, and someone mentioned that she had seen a Groupon for Zumba. Seven of us thought it would be a fun way to kick-start a diet/exercise program in the wintertime.

We all try to attend these fun dance classes, but if only three can go, we still have a support group. Most of us have dropped a few pounds, but even more, we are really enjoying connecting more often with one another, and NOT over lunch! Zumba got us moving! -- On the Move, Racine, Wis.

DEAR ON THE MOVE: Good for you and your friends for creating a scenario where you support one another in your path toward fitness. Especially when you have not yet developed the discipline to work out, it can be useful to have friends who can help hold you accountable.

The incentive that comes from losing a little weight is real. The bonus of getting quality friend time is amazing. Now, if you add one more element -- a realistic goal for the summer -- you may be able to keep up the momentum as the seasons change. Good luck!