DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an inability to ask for help, stemming from my childhood. It always makes me feel like I am either a burden or weak. Although I have identified this problem in myself, I do not know how to fix it. The obvious answer is to simply admit I need help, but my pride and fear of damaging my reputation always leave me silently struggling alone. How can I work toward admitting my flaws at home and in the workplace? -- Admitting Weaknesses, Memphis, Tennessee
DEAR ADMITTING WEAKNESSES: I get that you are concerned about who to talk to about how to strengthen your skills and ask for help. You should be mindful about this. At the same time, it is clear that you must now look for a few allies. Who are the people in your world who would support you without questions or doubts? They definitely exist. You need to look once more to determine who they might be, and then reach out one by one to forge stronger bonds.
Please know that we all doubt ourselves at times, many times, and it is important to have someone you can trust to support you even in dark times. I also recommend that you consider therapy. A mental health professional may be able to support you the best through this period, as this person is trained to help people navigate tough emotional situations, and he or she is not part of your personal life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I don't like my engagement ring. I was surprised when I was proposed to, and I didn’t take much time to gaze at my ring. After nearly two years of looking at it, I have grown to like it less and less. The diamond is clearly beautiful, but the band is far too thick for my hands, and the design is much more retro than I’d like. Is there any way I could go about changing my engagement ring now? I have never heard of anyone doing this, and I wonder if my now-husband would even realize if I secretly did it. -- New Ring to It, Dover, Delaware
DEAR NEW RING TO IT: Instead of secretly changing your ring, bring it up to your husband. Tell him that as much as you love him, you actually wish that your engagement ring were more reflective of your personality and taste. Tell him that you want to either reimagine your ring and have it recast to your vision or design another ring that reflects who you are more accurately. Ask for his blessing and support.
Hopefully in your marriage you have had some moments where you have learned more details about each other’s traditions, preferences, styles and ideas. This is another of those topics, albeit a potentially important one. On one hand, there is the magic and fantasy of a surprise engagement accompanied by a ring. On the other is a person’s daily life. You have to strike a balance between the two and help your husband understand who you are and what your style is so that this will not appear as a rebuke.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)