DEAR HARRIETTE: Two of my friends have been married to each other for over a decade. Their marital problems began when they had their first and only child.
I get calls from each one confiding in me, and I have been taken through the roller coaster of them nearing divorce and then switching their tune after a vacation. It sadly always loops back to divorce. I have run out of advice to give them. I want to believe in loving someone forever, but could they just be doomed? -- Roller Coaster Ride, Denver
DEAR ROLLER COASTER RIDE: Married couples go through all kinds of twists and turns in their lives together. Some couples experience many rocky periods, like your friends. While you cannot control what happens to them, you can control what you do.
It is not your responsibility be their sounding board. The emotional exhaustion that you constantly experience because they include you in their marital ups and downs must come to an end. This will require you to tell each of them that you cannot listen to their woes anymore. Make it clear that you love them both and want the best for them, but that you cannot continue being in the middle of their challenges anymore. After you tell them, you will have to reinforce your decision by changing the subject whenever they bring up their issues.
DEAR HARRIETTE: How do you ask somebody for a letter of recommendation? I need letters of recommendation from professors and employers for an internship. I feel awkward asking, because I have heard of people getting rejected. -- Recommend Me, Please, Boston
DEAR RECOMMEND ME, PLEASE: Letters of recommendation are extremely important and should be considered seriously. Before you make a request, think about the internship and what the requirements are. Then consider who knows you well -- as a student, as an employee, as a person. Ideally, you should ask people who know you well and who have concrete examples of your personality and how you interact in different situations. Select people who have a good reputation and with whom you have a good reputation. Be clear and specific when you ask for a recommendation. You can do this in writing, over the phone or in person. If the person you select has not interacted with you recently, be sure to have a reminder list of the things you did together and the dates. You want to make it as easy as possible for the recommender to be accurate in his or her description of you.
Give the person as much time as possible so that you are not imposing upon them too much. Generally, people do not agree to write recommendations if they are pressed for time or if they do not believe they can wholeheartedly offer a recommendation. If this happens to you, just ask someone else.
(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.)