DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have become dysfunctional, and I don’t know how we can come back from it. We have been married for three years. We were discussing divorce until we found the root of our problem -- my husband wanted to see another woman and still be with me. I couldn’t imagine being without him, so we opened our relationship; we both had outside relationships. I have trouble keeping other relationships going once I tell them about my open marriage with my husband; every time I get serious with someone, they ask me to leave him, and I end up dumping the guy. This open marriage is not working for me. I want to close our marriage, but I’m afraid my husband will not want to. I fear that this is the end of my marriage, and I am not ready. How do I prepare myself for my marriage to end? -- Closing My Marriage
DEAR CLOSING MY MARRIAGE: It’s time for a sit-down with your husband. You have to be upfront and direct with him. You never wanted an open marriage. The only reason you agreed to it in the first place is because you love your husband and wanted to save your marriage. You have now tried it. Remind him that you have met more than one man who wants to be in a monogamous relationship with you, but you would rather be with him. Ask him if he is willing to close your marriage and be totally devoted to you. If he is unwilling, you will have to decide whether you can live with that -- or leave.
DEAR HARRIETTE: What’s the best way to tell someone you don’t like their gifts? My mom spent a fortune on me for a whole new wardrobe for my new job, and I hate everything. It’s not like I’m being picky because they aren’t my typical style that I would choose for myself. No, the clothing she bought is literally inappropriate, like the hot pink suit she bought as a statement piece and others that do not fit me and look ridiculous. I tried modeling all of the clothes for her, hoping that she would see that they are not great after all, but she loved them even more. I feel trapped with these clothes and don’t want my mother wasting her money because I will never wear them. What do I say? -- Wardrobe Malfunction
DEAR WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: As a grown woman, it is time for you to stand up for yourself and manage this aspect of your relationship with your mother. Thank her for being so generous with you, and ask her to stop buying you clothes. Tell her that you appreciate her intent, but you do not like the clothing that she has bought for you -- and more, that it is inappropriate for work attire. Tell her that you do not want her to waste her money on clothing that you will never wear. Be firm. Ask her to stop. If she continues to buy you clothes, do not accept them.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)