Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I witnessed a huge argument between my brother and his wife when we last visited. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. But what was weird is that the next day they acted like nothing had happened. I am single, in part because this kind of stuff makes me crazy. How can you love somebody one minute and hate her guts the next? I don't understand it. I want to ask my brother, but I know that their marital issues are none of my business. Do you understand this? -- Single and Perplexed, Chicago

DEAR SINGLE AND PERPLEXED: Married people argue just like other friends argue. For those who have been married long enough, it is likely that they have weathered any number of storms where they did not agree and heated words may have been swapped. What happens afterwards is what truly counts after an argument. How people address the issues that brought on the flare up, how they talk to each other in the heat of the moment and how they mend fences are key. It is possible to argue without being mean or disrespectful, which is ideal. It is also difficult -- yet possible -- to apologize and make up when either or both parties have crossed the line. Further, you can love someone forever but not like the person from time to time.

As you look for a healthy bond, pay attention to how you disagree and come back to a loving place. If you cannot do that, you will not likely be successful in the long term.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Today I read about the lady whose "good friend" emailed her for help after a hip replacement. She let her "good friend" down and did nothing, not even phone. How can you advise this morally bankrupt individual to contact her friend, as you are sure she will be delighted to hear from her? She forgot another human being in a time of need and asks you to make it better. My experience in times of need is that even strangers, when asked to help, will do so. "Late to the Party" needs a reprimand, not a pat on the back. -- Incredulous, Racine, Wis.

DEAR INCREDULOUS: My intention was not to give this person a pass. I'm sorry it read that way to you. My thought remains that when this woman remembered that she had not followed through on being there for her friend was the moment when she needed to take action. If these two really do love each other, it is likely that the friend in need will appreciate the call.

This does not, however, excuse the woman's absence in her friend's time of need. Sometimes people get so caught up in their own dramas, however small they may be, they neglect the people they care about the most. I do not condone that behavior. Instead, I believe in paying attention to ourselves and those around us and recognizing that we are in this world together. Sometimes that awareness calls for one to take action to benefit another. For Late to the Party and anyone else who is so self-focused that your loved ones are forgotten, it is time to wake up.