DEAR HARRIETTE: My fiance and I already seem to be arguing about the smallest things. For example, the other day I went to get ice cream and called him to see if he wanted anything. I asked what flavor of ice cream he wanted, and he immediately got upset with me, telling me I should’ve remembered that he doesn't like ice cream. He went on and on about how we’ve been together for six years, and I should know this about him. It was a mistake to forget this small detail about him, but I would much rather argue about bigger, more important things such as where our wedding will be held, not ice cream. I don’t know if I am overexaggerating or if this is a glimpse into our future. Please help me. -- Nervous Finacee, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR NERVOUS FIANCEE: I can see both sides of this argument. For starters, take a deep breath and think about your relationship. What do you know and like about your fiance? What are your least favorite parts about him? Think seriously about this. When you consider what you know about your fiance, go through a list of simple things such as what he likes to eat, wear and do. Consider favorite colors, restaurants, extracurricular activities, even idiosyncrasies. Make a similar list about yourself.
How well do you know each other? Answer your fiance’s question. And find out how well he knows you, too. From there, move on to the wedding. Talk about what both of you imagined your wedding to be. Work together to create a plan that reflects who you both are and the life you want to build together. It is the little things that help to strengthen a marriage or tear it down. All of it is important.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a high school history teacher, and I am struggling with getting my kids to focus on what I’m teaching. They always seem uninterested in the topic I am lecturing on, so I need some advice on how I can grab their attention. I’ve tried different techniques, but nothing seems to be working. I don’t want to be a mean teacher who calls the student’s home -- that is not why I became a teacher -- but I fear that this is the only way to get the students to take me seriously.
Do you have any advice on how I can get my kids to give me the respect that I had at the beginning of the school year and keep them interested in the material? -- Boring History Teacher, Dayton, Ohio
DEAR BORING HISTORY TEACHER: One way that students can engage with what seems to be boring subject matter is for the teacher to bring the content to life. Think about the subject matter that you are teaching and how it relates to their lives today. What are the correlations? What projects can you give them to do that show connections between history and current events? Invite them to debate two sides of a topic or research news articles that argue points that draw out details of your lesson plan. Even consider taking a field trip to visit an historic site that may bring a history lesson to life. (But be sure to get permission from the school before taking students off-site.)
(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.)