DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have been kind of going with the flow for years. We get along OK, but we are not close. I was thinking things are better than a few years back because at least we are not arguing much anymore. I realize, though, that this is not good. It’s almost like we have agreed to be civil, but we hardly ever talk to each other. We are barely even roommates. When I was starting off my life, I spent more time talking to my roommate than I do talking to him. I’m not thinking of leaving him. Shoot, I couldn’t afford that even if I wanted to. I’m worried that when our children go away to college, everything is going to fall apart. What can I do now to make my marriage better? -- Dead Marriage, Cincinnati
DEAR DEAD MARRIAGE: In the spirit of saving your marriage, go down memory lane and remember what you and your husband enjoyed doing together when you did have fun. What made you smile? What delighted each of you? Now think of what each of you likes to do now. Are there any intersections in your interests today? Consider an activity that you both would enjoy. Start small.
Plan date night once every two weeks. Tell your husband you want to create this special time for the two of you and make it sound like fun so that he will consider it. This can be something that is for just the two of you or sometimes a double date with another couple that you like. Create opportunities for you to get to know each other again and share time without the kids. You may also want to consider therapy.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been so busy, I haven’t stayed in touch with my cousin who lives in the same city as me. We both left home years ago. I just saw her at an event, and I learned that her brother died a couple of months ago. I feel so bad that I wasn’t there for her. She is such a sweet woman, and I can tell that she is grieving. I apologized for not knowing or reaching out. I want to be there for her. What can I do that would be meaningful in her time of need? -- Grieving Cousin, New York City
DEAR GRIEVING COUSIN: Now that you know your cousin’s situation, stay in touch. Grief usually lasts for a while. If her brother died recently, chances are she will need loving support for an extended period of time. Death has a way of bringing people together sometimes.
If you are able to commit to connecting with her more frequently, she will appreciate it. It can be a natural way for the two of you to reconnect. Being a good listener is especially helpful in the grieving process. You really cannot have answers for her, but being there to hear her out may prove to be supportive.
(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.)