Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friends Don't Respect Reader's New Car

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have just purchased my first car ever. Although it is a used car, it is in immaculate condition, and I hope to keep it this way for a long time. Many of my friends have had their cars purchased for them by their parents, and they don't respect their vehicles -- or mine. I am sick of dirty shoes being put up on my dash and food being dropped onto the seats. How can I make rules that will be enforced? I feel like a parent in my own car. -- Clean Car, Detroit

DEAR CLEAN CAR: Teaching others to respect your property is not always an easy job. Beware that it may cost you some friends, and it might even earn you an unfavorable nickname. As you put it, having to be a parent in your own car may not be the most fun, but it is the only way to lay down the law and have your friends honor it.

So what should you do? Let your friends know they can ride in your car only if they abide by your rules. Outline the rules -- from no food to no feet on the dash. Include no alcohol and anything else you have seen them do that may bother you. If they balk or do not honor your wishes, simply do not offer them a ride anymore.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am beginning to worry about my husband's mental health. He has a very stressful job and is now logging more and more hours to save for retirement. We have more than enough to live on comfortably, so I am not sure where this panic is coming from. Every time I try to bring up his 15-hour workdays, he begins to repeat how he's only trying to help the family. I know he is actually spending this time working because he is being paid overtime. How do I get to the root of this busy-bee syndrome? -- Ready for Retirement, Atlanta

DEAR READY FOR RETIREMENT: When was the last time your husband had a physical examination? It might be time for a complete checkup to allay any hidden fears he or you may have. It may also help to identify any issues he may have around anxiety. Sometimes a person’s physical state can affect his actions.

Beyond that, try to schedule a week off with your husband where you do something quiet together. It could be a staycation -- a week you spend at home relaxing with each other, talking about life, enjoying your city and not thinking about work. It could also be a trip to a place you both have always wanted to visit. Consider it a trip where you are trying out what retirement might look and feel like. Begin to talk about what you would like to do in retirement and how you might execute your plans. Making the transition to retirement a concrete idea may take away some of the angst regarding whether you will have enough money to enjoy this upcoming time in your life.

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