Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband had a big work meeting the other day that was followed by a dinner. He called me late in the evening to say that he had had too much to drink and was going to stay at the office rather than risk driving home intoxicated. It was so late that it hardly registered with me. In the morning, he came home and he looked like he'd had a hard night. I gave him some tea and food, and he went to take a nap. On the one hand, I think he made a smart decision. It is dangerous to drive drunk. But part of me is really angry. How could he get into that situation in the first place? What did he do at work, and could it jeopardize his job? Where did he really stay? My mind is spinning out of control, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I don't want to start a fight, but I do want him to know how deeply this has affected me. How can I approach him? -- Careful Steps, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR CAREFUL STEPS: When your husband is alert and sober, ask him to sit down and talk with you. Tell him how grateful you are that he is safe and that he made a wise choice not to drive. Then ask him to tell you what happened. Listen to his story. If needed, ask him more questions so that you can understand the events of that evening. Do your best not to sound like the Grand Inquisitor. If you do, he will likely clam up.

Once he is finished, tell him that his behavior set off a series of disturbing questions for you that you would like to share with him. Ask him to address your concerns and talk openly about how to prevent such a situation from happening in the future.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Next week is my ex's birthday. It popped into my head, I suppose, because we always used to make a big deal of it. We have been apart for several years now, and I hate to say it, but we didn't have a good breakup. We didn't speak for years. Recently, I ran into him, and we were both pleasant. I am married, and so is he; I don't want anything from him. Would it be appropriate for me to wish him a happy birthday since I remembered? Or is it best to leave it alone? -- Celebrating, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR CELEBRATING: Since you two do not have a relationship at all now, I suggest that you wish him well silently but resist the temptation to reach out to him. You two are not friends, and there is no need to rekindle any type of relationship. Your good wishes from afar are enough.

I will add that if you have other exes with whom you have an amicable relationship, it is perfectly fine to remember each other on special days. But in this case, that is not true.