Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Nagging Husband Loses Key Fob

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I just got a new car. Our previous car had no fancy computer abilities, so we are still getting used to this one. Our car starts without a key, though the key fob -- something I had never even heard of before -- has to be in the car. My husband has been adamant about both of us carrying our key fobs, even if only one of us is going to drive, because he says the fob identifies the driver. He has been pushy about us each having our fobs with us, and he reprimands me if I don’t have mine.

Fast forward to this weekend: We went away for a few days, and he seems to have lost his key fob. He’s upset about it, but I'm just glad it wasn’t me. He would have been yelling at me and telling me how irresponsible I am. Instead he’s just upset and looking for his key. I’m sorry he lost it, and I don’t want to rub it in, but part of me wants to point out that he would be handling this differently if the roles were reversed. Do I let it go or say something? -- Lost Key Fob, Washington, D.C.

DEAR LOST KEY FOB: Implicit in what you are saying is that your husband has a temper and is critical of you. What you may want to do is help him find his key fob or recommend that you order another from your car company. You can also say to him that you hope you find the key fob, even as you are relieved that you aren’t the one who lost it. When he looks at you quizzically, point out that he would have been livid if you had been the culprit. Ask him if he knows what you mean. Point out that it is possible to deal with crises without placing judgment, as you are doing right now.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a high-rise, and my next-door neighbor is super friendly. She works from home, and sometimes I do as well. It is common for her to ring my bell just to chitchat in the middle of the day. I don’t have time for that! During the day, I am working. Even sometimes at night, I am relaxing and do not want to have company. She is from the Midwest, and she tells me that it is common for folks in her hometown to visit with each other on a daily basis. That’s fine for her, but not for me. How can I draw the line so that my neighbor doesn’t practically move in? -- Testing the Limits, Los Angeles

DEAR TESTING THE LIMITS: Start by telling your neighbor that you mean no harm, but you do not have an open-door policy. Make it clear that you are often working at home and do not have time to stop to chat in the middle of your day. As far as after hours, just tell her that you are not like her. You appreciate her openness and friendliness, but you are more of a recluse. You like being alone or seeing people on a scheduled basis. Apologize in advance for not always being available to spend time with her. Don’t answer the door if you don’t want to have company.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)