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DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is applying for college this year and will likely go away to school next fall. I have prepared for this day for years. I know my job as a parent is to get him ready to be an independent adult. He is ready — but I don’t know if I am. That’s in part because I don’t know how my marriage is going to survive after my son goes.
I spend most of my time with my son. My husband sits around watching sports or hanging out with his friends. He hardly ever even sees me. I feel like we are ships passing in the night, even when we are both sitting in the same room. Part of me wishes my son would go to school locally because I think it might help to keep our family together. I know that sounds crazy, but I don’t know what I’ll do when he walks out that door next year. Is there anything I should be doing now to prepare myself for that day? — What’s Next
DEAR WHAT’S NEXT: Sounds like you have done all you can to prepare your son for his life as an adult, but you have neglected to pay attention to your own. Yes, you can do something. Right now. Think about what you want in your life and your marriage. What would make you happy? What might you enjoy doing with your husband?
Start inviting your husband to do the things that you would appreciate sharing with him. Don’t try to make him choose between watching a game and going out to dinner with you. That’s a recipe for disaster. Choose a neutral time when he could be available. Invite him to participate in a simple activity — taking a drive, inviting friends over for dinner, watching a movie together. Think of something you both might enjoy. Begin to cultivate couple time now. This will help when it’s just the two of you at home.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently confronted my boyfriend about the fact that he takes pictures of me without my knowledge. He was upset that I confronted him and still doesn’t fully understand why it’s an issue. Sometimes he will take pictures when I’m not fully clothed. He told me he doesn’t think it’s an issue because he shows me the pictures afterward. I don’t want the pictures taken in the first place. What should I say to him to make him understand why this is an issue and why it makes me uncomfortable? — Sneaky Boyfriend
DEAR SNEAKY BOYFRIEND: You have a right to privacy that includes not always having your picture taken. I also understand why your boyfriend could think you are overreacting. Stand your ground and ask him to respect your privacy by asking before photographing you. Period. Tell him it makes you uncomfortable to be on display in that way. You want to be able to let your guard down with him. You don’t feel you can do that when you know that he may be lurking around the corner sneaking shots of you. Ask him to stop.
If he refuses, create some distance for a period of time. Let him know that violating your privacy is a dealbreaker for you.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.