Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband's Drinking Embarrasses Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: When my husband starts enjoying himself at a party, he tends to drink too much, and he gets obnoxious. It can be pretty embarrassing. I don’t know what to say to him to get him to calm down. Once he has passed a certain point, there’s no turning back. How can I encourage him to be more moderate in his public drinking? I want to have fun with him, but it often turns ugly. -- Ugly Drunk

DEAR UGLY DRUNK: You need to talk to your husband when the two of you are together, alone and sober. Get his full attention, and suggest that if either of you is ever heading toward intoxication or uncontrolled behavior, you have permission to alert the other before things go downhill. Including yourself will help your husband not to feel overly defensive.

If he refuses to accept that his behavior is ever inappropriate, share specific incidents and what happened so that he can better understand the conduct that you are describing. If he is totally unwilling to see his role in the situation, film him next time so that you can show him what he does in the moment. Hopefully, the cold-water-in-the-face reality of a video might wake him up to his bad behavior.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter invited a friend to spend a week with her at our summer house, but things got uncomfortable after a few days. I think it was too much togetherness for two young ladies who aren’t really close.

My daughter, who is an only child, invited this girl because she is part of her friend group -- but also because her closer friends couldn’t come. It all worked out OK, but there were definitely some tense moments. Do you have any advice for what to do to occupy an only child’s attention when her best friends are not available? -- Alone or Not

DEAR ALONE OR NOT: Talk with your only child about how long she thinks she can be comfortable with anyone -- especially someone who is not so close to her -- one-on-one. Ask her to think of how she might handle this situation differently in the future. She needs to take ownership for what occurred because she wanted to have a friend along.

Talk it out with her. If a trip is long, should she have a friend for a while and spend the other part of the time just with her parents? As an only child, she probably enjoys alone time. When she doesn’t have it, she can feel claustrophobic. You may also recommend that she create alone moments even when friends are with her. It is OK to have quiet time when you are entertaining people over an extended period. If she can learn to claim her space, she will be able to enjoy close or peripheral friends and still have her peace of mind.

(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.)