Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

New Friend's Accent Raises Questions

DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman was introduced to my circle at our club. She seemed great and spoke about how her worldview had changed since marrying a Spaniard. I asked where she was from, and she told me she was born and raised in Connecticut. I nearly laughed out loud -- she speaks with a fake Spanish accent!

This woman claims she picked up the accent from her husband, but they have been together for only five years. Can I call her out on this bizarre behavior, or is it easier to label her a loony? -- Not Your Accent, Brooklyn, New York

DEAR NOT YOUR ACCENT: Leave the woman alone. Don’t call her out on anything. Resist the temptation to tease her about her accent, too. Maybe her worldview really has changed, and she is trying her best to assimilate to her husband’s way of living, being and speaking.

I totally get that her fake accent could rub you the wrong way, but remember this is her life. You are peripheral to it. Instead of judging her, listen to her stories. If you choose to get to know her, listen to learn what her experiences were as a child growing up in Connecticut. What did she like? What does she wish to forget? Even more, how did she meet her husband? What drew them to each other? Clearly, she is immersed in him. His way of living is deeply informing who she wants to be. Be kind to her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have terrible difficulty sleeping. I have stared at my ceiling for hours without feeling tired at all. Melatonin no longer works for me, and my husband thinks I should go to a sleep clinic. I don't think this restlessness is worth spending thousands on to diagnose. I suspect he is getting frustrated by me keeping him up. Would it be terrible to sleep in different rooms until I figure out my sleeplessness? -- Solo Mission, Gainesville, Florida

DEAR SOLO MISSION: Guess what? There could be at least two rights in your story! You should heed your husband’s advice and see a doctor. Not being able to sleep is not a small thing. Every human being needs adequate sleep in order to stay healthy. Do not take your sleeplessness lightly. Investigate to discover what is at the root of your insomnia.

On your own, you can eliminate or greatly reduce caffeine and sugar, especially in the evening. Turn off all electronics hours before you go to bed. Quiet yourself to the best of your ability long before you turn off the light.

While you are figuring out how to stabilize your sleep, a thoughtful alternative to your current sleeping arrangements could be to sleep in another room. You can suggest this option to your husband as a way to protect him from your restlessness. Many couples, even in these modern times, live in separate rooms for this very reason. But do your marriage a favor and don’t stay in that other room indefinitely without agreeing on a mutually acceptable plan.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)