Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband Won’t Take Health Warnings Seriously

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband thinks that he is invincible. He never gets sick -- or so he says. He is not afraid of the new coronavirus. Meanwhile, my three kids and I suffer from asthma.

Reports say that anybody with asthma should be extra careful right now. We have been staying at home and following the rules, but it’s hard to know if we will be safe when my husband goes out every day without a mask or gloves and seems oblivious to the health risks. Am I being overly paranoid? How can I get him to be more cautious -- if not for himself, then for us? -- Fair Warning

DEAR FAIR WARNING: Gather research that explains the risks of coronavirus, especially to people with respiratory conditions. Because it often causes a so-far-untreatable form of pneumonia, it is particularly dangerous for someone with a compromised pulmonary system.

Show your husband that it is essential for you and your children to limit your exposure to the disease. That includes not being in close contact with anyone who is out and about and not taking the recommended precautions. Ask your husband to help keep you safe by wearing protective gear, showering and changing his clothes the moment he comes into your house, keeping his distance from you during this questionable period and taking this situation seriously.

Here is a layman’s description of how one gets sick from the disease: Invite your husband to read it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so worried about how to survive right now. I have a decent job, and I have been able to make ends meet in the past, but my family barely lives beyond paycheck-to-paycheck. I’m afraid that I am going to be laid off if this epidemic doesn’t change soon. I need to decide what to pay and what not to pay so that I have enough money to buy food. I had good credit going into this. What can I say to my creditors? I don’t want to just stop paying bills, but I think I have to. -- Dealing With Debt

DEAR DEALING WITH DEBT: You are not alone, and this is a time when that may work to your advantage. Gather your bills, and figure out exactly what you owe and to whom. Rather than running away from your creditors, be proactive. Contact each of them and explain your circumstances. Stay calm and focused. Ask for debt forgiveness, deferred payment plans or waived late penalties. Be direct when you ask for them to work with you. Make it clear that you are not trying to walk away from your responsibilities, but circumstances mean that you need to figure out a different way to handle these bills. Chances are, your candor and proactive approach will yield you the best possible results. It may take time, and it could be humiliating, but stick to your reality. Do not agree to pay more than you can afford at this time.

(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.)