Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Former Student Feels Guilty for Not Staying in Touch

DEAR HARRIETTE: A good friend of mine just told me that her husband wants to get a divorce after more than 20 years of marriage. This is totally rocking my world. They have been the example of a happy, loving couple and solid parents for me and my husband -- and a whole bunch of other couples -- for years. We have been friends for at least half of their marriage. My husband and I like them both. This is so weird.

My friend doesn’t want to break up, but it sounds like her husband is done. I feel so sorry for her, but also worried for all of us. Really, they were the example of how to do it. It looked like they worked through challenges well and seemed to always figure it out. I want to be there for my friend, but I also want to think about what to do to shore up my own marriage. -- Shaken to the Core

DEAR SHAKEN TO THE CORE: It is always devastating to hear of the end of a marriage, especially one that has flourished for so long. Be an avid listener for your friend. Do not give advice or pass judgment. Just make sure she knows that you want to be there for her during this tough time. Be sure to keep what she shares with you confidential.

For your own marriage, use this opportunity to talk openly with your husband about what’s working well and what could be improved. Check in with each other to determine if you are doing well -- from both perspectives -- or if you need counseling or any course correction. Your friend’s crisis can serve as a wakeup call to the rest of your group. Take heed.

(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.)