Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Seeing Friends' Marriage Woes Spurs Reader to Action

DEAR HARRIETTE: Two of my close friends are going through a hard time in their marriage. The wife confided in me when asking for a suggestion for a therapist. While she was sharing what was going on, I realized that her marriage is way better off than my own. What’s more, she is addressing their issues head-on. I stopped fighting for things that I think are important years ago because it always turned into an argument. Now that I see what this couple is going through because they won’t settle for living in conflict, it makes me think that I should revisit some of the friction that seems to plague my marriage and try to get my husband to talk with me about it again. I begged him to go to therapy years ago, but he refused. Now that his friend is going to therapy, maybe I can convince him to reconsider it. What do you think? -- Conflicted Marriage, Detroit

DEAR CONFLICTED MARRIAGE: One of the best things that can happen when you are helping others is that you shine a lens on your own life and discover ways that you can help yourself. If you have been going along with a marriage that is unfulfilling and your friends have helped you to notice that, take the time now to work to rekindle the flame. Talk to your husband. Tell him what you want for your marriage. Ask him what he wants. Suggest that you revisit the idea of therapy to bring the two of you closer together. You can point out what’s happening with your friends as a point of encouragement.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my neighbors has decided to write a book -- a memoir, I guess it would be called. She is passionate about this and comes to me regularly to help her get her ideas together because she knows that I work in the publishing industry. My problem is that as much as I love her and want her to fulfill this dream, I can see that she is a terrible writer. I don’t have time to edit her work, but I know that no publisher is going to sign her at the rate she is going. Her writing skills are poor. Her grammar skills are abysmal, and she is a mediocre storyteller as well. What she has going for her is that her raw story is moving and compelling. As a writer-editor, what would you say to this woman to be of support without taking on too much? -- Novice Writer Reality Check, Denver

DEAR NOVICE WRITER REALITY CHECK: As a professional, you can sit down with your friend and tell her that you would like her permission to give her a trained assessment. With her blessing, tell her if she truly wants to get her book published, she will need help. Perhaps she can take a memoir-writing class. She may want to consider getting a ghostwriter to help her write the book. At the very least, she needs a copy editor to ensure that the grammar is accurate. Tell her about the self-publishing option, but note that she should not self-publish until her book is of adequate quality.

(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.)