Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Cousin Wants To Help Struggling Family Member

DEAR HARRIETTE: A family member called to ask if he could borrow some money because he lost his job and doesn’t have enough money to pay his rent. I know this is happening everywhere, and I feel so sorry for him. I’m concerned, though, that if I lend him money, it will just weigh on both of us when he can’t pay it back. Part of me feels like I should just give him what I can afford to give, even though it’s not his whole rent check. But in that way, he won’t owe me anything and I won’t be upset that I extended myself too far and begin to resent him for it. Am I overthinking this? I love my cousin so much, but I don’t want the added financial or emotional stress of having to deal with a likely disappointment. -- Financial Gift

DEAR FINANCIAL GIFT: You are on the right page. Decide how much you can give your cousin without need for reimbursement. Offer that to him. Tell him that this is the gift you can give to him -- no need to pay you back. If he counters that he really needs more, respond that this is what you have to give. Your clarity should make it easier for him to accept that reality. Don’t apologize for not being able to afford more. State the truth: This is what you can give.

You can also ask him if he knows how to file for unemployment. Find out if there is any other service he may need help accessing. Perhaps you can help him in other ways. But draw the line regarding money.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband constantly complains about everything. In the past few weeks, he has ramped up his complaints. From the time he gets up in the morning, he finds something to pick at. We are all stuck in the house together, and I’m going crazy. I know that times are tough. I’m living in them, too. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. But listening to him moan about every single thing all day long is too much for me. How can I get him to change his attitude? -- Dark Cloud

DEAR DARK CLOUD: Even though we are required to quarantine, I wonder if it might be worth it for you to put on a mask and take a walk every day. Experts have said that if you can maintain physical distancing while you walk wearing a mask, you can go outside. Getting fresh air and time to yourself may help to clear your head and help you to deal with the stresses of home.

Be pleasant to your husband. Choose to cultivate your personal joy, even if he can’t muster it right now. Tell him you love him and that you know times are difficult. Ask him to consider looking at whatever you are discussing in a different way. Point out that it is possible to find happiness even now when things seem so dire. Tell him you need him to be more optimistic for you and the family. Finally, put in some earphones and listen to music when you need to tune him out.

(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.)