DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my girlfriends confided in me that she is having marital struggles. I felt bad for her. Clearly, she is going through a tough time. I did my best to listen well and to talk less, but in the end, I told her that I have been having my own struggles, and if we are being honest, a few of our mutual friends have had some ups and downs of late. I didn’t say this to diminish her personal issues, but it is true that for those of us who have been married for a few years (some for more than 10), stuff comes up. I didn’t have any grand solution for her other than to say that I know, in my case, we just keep working at it. Do you think I let her down by telling my story and letting her know that she’s not alone? I think she was hoping that there was some miracle advice I could give her that would heal her wounds. -- Marital Bliss, Albuquerque, New Mexico
DEAR MARITAL BLISS: When friends are in pain, of course you want to help them feel better. When it comes to marriage, there is no playbook to follow. That said, it can be comforting to know that others share your experience. Even if your friend didn’t seem to want to hear about how directly connected your experience may be to hers, it may give her a bit of perspective.
Marriages that last must weather emotional storms. For most couples, every single day is not blissful. Instead, there can be any number of conflicts that arise that have to be faced. It was good for you to let your friend know that she is not alone. Couples do sometimes have difficulties. Recommend to her that they go to couples counseling. What you should not do is attempt to be a surrogate counselor yourself. Stay a supportive friend.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have worked out almost every day since the beginning of the year. I am proud of my dedication but bummed out that now that summer's here, I haven’t gotten close to my summer weight. I know that I didn’t put the weight on in just one year, but I did think that if I was committed to fitness, it would pay off in a bigger way. What am I doing wrong? I’m feeling defeated. -- Not Fit Enough, Denver
DEAR NOT FIT ENOUGH: Patience and long-term commitment to your fitness and overall health are your anchors here. I’m sorry you did not reach your summer goal, but please do not give up. What my trainer has shared with me is that the exercise is essential, but the other requirement is being dogged about what you put in your mouth. What you eat and drink affects your weight more than anything. Cutting back significantly on calorie intake is the key to shedding pounds. You should log your caloric intake daily. You can use any number of tracker systems to make it easy. This will likely identify ways in which you can trim your diet and, in turn, your waist.
You should also get a physical from your internist to ensure that you are not facing any underlying health concerns that you need to address.
(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.)