DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother of two daughters, and I’ve developed a close friendship with another mom in my neighborhood who also has two daughters the same ages as mine. We’ve been meeting for coffee every Tuesday for the past year.
However, over the past month, my friend has unexpectedly canceled our coffee dates with what seem like unusual excuses. While I understand that life can get busy, the consistency of these cancellations has left me feeling confused and a bit hurt.
Our friendship has become an important part of my life, and the sudden change has me questioning whether I might have unintentionally done something to upset her. Our kids have also formed a bond, making the situation even more confusing.
Part of me wants to reach out and ask if everything is OK or if there’s something I may have said or done to cause any discomfort. On the other hand, I don’t want to come across as confrontational or add unnecessary strain to what has been a positive connection.
How should I approach this situation?
DEAR ESTRANGED: Stop taking this personally until you have gathered more information.
Call your friend and ask her if she is OK. It could be that something is happening in her world that has disrupted her schedule.
Tell her you are concerned about her since she has recently canceled your coffee dates. Tell her that you miss her, and your children miss her children. Listen to see what she says.
If she hedges and doesn’t seem to be forthcoming, then you can ask if you did or said something to make her uncomfortable. Do your best to get her to reveal whatever is going on.
Just know that it could easily be that her life got complicated and something completely separate from you has impacted her routine.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife and I share a deep love for animals, particularly dogs. While our shared passion for furry companionship has always been a bonding point, lately it is almost our breaking point.
My wife has a habit of bringing home more dogs, and while I appreciate her love for animals, the financial strain is becoming evident. We’re reaching a point where the expenses related to the care of our dogs are putting a strain on our budget.
I’ve tried expressing my concerns about the affordability of maintaining additional pets, but my wife seems to prioritize the emotional fulfillment they bring over the practical aspects. I’m finding myself frustrated and worried about the long-term impact on our financial stability.
How can I communicate my concerns effectively without causing unnecessary conflict? I want to find a balance between respecting her passion for animals and ensuring that we make responsible decisions for our family’s overall well-being.
— Too Many Dogs
DEAR TOO MANY DOGS: Create a budget where you list all of your expenses. Put dog food and maintenance in a separate category so that you can clearly show those costs.
Compare the expenses to your income, and point out the discrepancies. Review your budget with your wife so that she can see how your dollars are being used.
Tell her you two need to draw the line and find homes for some of the dogs because you cannot afford to care for them all.
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.