Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is away at sleep-away camp for the first time this summer. We agreed to send him for four weeks. After a few days, we got messages from him that he wanted to come home. The camp counselors, however, encouraged us to give it time -- many children get homesick and get over it. They were right. The last time we talked to him, he was having a blast.

When he was homesick, I told my mother and my best friend, and now they are upset with me because I did not go to get him. They think I was cruel to leave him there against his will. Nothing that I told them about the counselor's advice or the fact that he is fine now has made a difference. What can I do to quiet things down? -- Shunned, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR SHUNNED: Stay focused on your son and his experience. By all means, check in with camp regularly to make sure that he is doing well. If you learn otherwise, make a decision about your next steps.

As far as your mother and friend, step back a minute. They are reacting to your initial concern about your child's comfort and safety. This is a good reminder for the future. Do not tell them things before you have attempted to handle them directly, because loved ones hold onto dramatic moments far longer than those directly affected.

When your son comes home, debrief him about his experience. Then have him share highlights with them. His authentic stories will help to clarify what his experience has actually been.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have been married for many years. For a long time, we did not get along well. We argued daily about stupid stuff. The arguments have subsided a lot, but there is a not-so-good side effect: We have not been intimate in years. I have lost interest in intimacy because we had so many years of animosity. He wants to close the gap. I don't. I know it's not fair, but I don't know how to turn the interest back on. Any advice? -- Dry, Washington, D.C.

DEAR DRY: Have you tried therapy? It might be helpful for the two of you to go to a traditional relationship therapist. This person may be able to help you identify what is blocking you from reconnecting romantically with your husband. There may be some underlying issues you have yet to tackle that can be identified and dissolved so that they no longer stand in the way of intimacy for you two.

You might consider visiting a sex therapist. More and more couples have used this option, as these therapists are trained to help guide couples to get back in touch with their desire for each other.

You might also consider taking a romantic vacation. Do something fun that used to be exciting for both of you. Before going on that vacation or to any therapy, do your best to talk to each other about your relationship and what you would like it to look like in the future. What do you want? Break the ice by striking an honest and thoughtful discussion.