DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently texted with my former boss because I found an old picture of her with some former colleagues and thought she would like to have it. Her response was immediate, but it included a curse word. I was surprised because she doesn’t curse, but I didn’t think much of it. She wrote back immediately apologizing and saying she couldn’t believe that a swear word had been sent by her. She quickly figured out that she had mistyped. She was so embarrassed. Even though I assured her it was no big deal, it really bothered her. Was there more that I should have said? -- Awkward Exchange, Atlanta
DEAR AWKWARD EXCHANGE: I understand why your former boss would have been dismayed. Sadly, between the tiny size of the keyboard on people’s phones and the autocorrect feature that often incorrectly assumes what you are trying to say, many texts end up with weird language that either defies logic or can be insensitive. Neutralizing it in the moment is the best solution.
I suppose my best advice for you and everyone else who texts is to pause and read over whatever you have written before you press send, as too often the brain of the computer or the clumsiness of your fingers could have written something very different than what you thought you wrote.
You accepted her apology; there was nothing more for you to do.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been married for a long time -- nearly 20 years. Things have gone up and down over the years, but I realize now that I have not been a very good wife. As I think about it, I would say that I have been pretty selfish, not wanting to fit into any type of a stereotypical role. I didn’t start to cook until after my son was born, many years into our marriage. I hate to clean. I work more than anything, and I haven’t always been kind. I have been having nightmares recently, remembering some of my past behaviors toward my husband where I blamed him for everything, but now I wonder. I know now that I am equally to blame, if not more, because I have been so stubborn.
I don’t know what to do to make up for lost time, but I see now that I want to apologize to my husband for not being the best wife and to work harder from now on to be a better partner. I don’t mean I’m trying to go back to the '50s -- I just want to be better. -- Bad Wife, Philadelphia
DEAR BAD WIFE: You know the saying “actions speak louder than words”? I recommend that you begin to do the things that you believe will nourish your marriage. Choose to come home from work earlier whenever you can. Cook meals that your husband will appreciate. Expend more effort on tidying your home. You can also directly apologize to your husband for being selfish over the years, and pledge that you will be a more supportive partner as the days unfold.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)