Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Busy Couple Needs to Schedule Time Together

DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife and I work for companies that require us to travel 85 percent of the year, and we rarely see each other. Last week I saw my wife a total of five hours. We are feeling the strain of not being together, and I am looking for solutions. What are some ways my wife and I can maximize our moments together? -- On the Road Again, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR ON THE ROAD AGAIN: You and your wife need to get organized. Review your schedule for the next three months. Write down everywhere you know you will be, including when you both will be at home. Figure out if you can visit each other at any of your business stops along the way. Schedule phone calls and Skype times so you are sure to communicate every day. By all means, schedule a vacation when you can be together without the pressure of work.

Looking at the big picture, determine together how long you believe you can live with this extreme travel schedule. Some couples are able to manage for years. Others buckle under the pressure of not being together very often. You two will have to figure out how well you are managing with so much time apart. Check in regularly to ensure that you both continue to be comfortable with the decisions that you make.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I received a phone call from a former business partner a few weeks ago. He is interested in having me work with him on a project that has the potential to be very lucrative. The offer sounds interesting, but I have some major reservations about working with him again. My friend told me to give him call in two weeks with an answer, and I am planning to decline his offer. I am worried that our relationship as friends will be strained because of my declining the offer. How can I make sure our friendship will be undamaged? -- Unfriended, Queens, N.Y.

DEAR UNFRIENDED: Business is business. Speak to your friend directly about your decision not to work on the project with him. Be clear that you do not want to work on this project and out of respect for him you want to let him know right away. Thank him for extending the invitation to you.

You can never control how people will respond to you. You can improve your chances of having a positive outcome, though, by being forthright and kind as you communicate with him. Tell him you value your relationship too much to be indecisive, and this particular project is not right for you at this time. If he has a problem with that or tries to persuade you further, stick to your decision. If you can think of someone to refer him to who may be interested, do that. But do not give in. Trust your instincts. Time will tell whether he gets over it or not.