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DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have been going through a rough patch, and I don’t want to pretend like everything is great just because it’s Valentine’s Day. I used to go all out and get him a nice gift or prepare him a delicious dinner, but I got tired of doing that because he rarely reciprocated. This year, I decided to treat the day like any other day. I plan to make dinner, like always, but no fanfare. What do I do if he decides to rally and do something special? — Wilted Flower
DEAR WILTED FLOWER: Your reaction to your husband’s gestures — whatever they may be — on Valentine’s Day has everything to do with how ready you are to address the challenges in your relationship. If you are ready to talk about how you feel and what you want for your life, invite him to sit down and talk. You can use whatever he has done (or not) as a starting point for the conversation. Or you can talk about how you have shown up for this holiday and what it means to you.
The only reason why Valentine’s Day itself matters is as a symbol of your union. You can have this conversation on any day. If you are not ready to talk, however, just be pleasant and plan to have the conversation at another time. Bottom line here is that eventually you need to have an honest talk with your husband about your future. Otherwise, you will likely be in this same position a year from now with nothing resolved.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend’s daughter was recently hospitalized due to what I would describe as a psychotic break. Her daughter is only 20 years old and seemed completely normal leading up to the days before her hospitalization.
I can’t imagine what my friend is going through. Her daughter has been in a psych ward for almost a week now and is showing no signs of improvement. My friend fears that her daughter may never be the same again. I am trying my hardest to support her during this time, but I honestly have no clue what to tell her or how to help. What can I do to be supportive given these circumstances? — Here To Help
DEAR HERE TO HELP: Being present counts for a lot. Say little, just be there. You can prepare food for your friend. If she allows it, you can go with her to the hospital sometimes, even if you are in the waiting area. You can be there in the evening when she comes home, ready to listen, to provide her with a home-cooked meal, to just be together in silence.
Do not feel that you need to have something to say. You are not an expert. You have no idea what her daughter’s fate will be. Just be actively present. Tell your friend how much you love her and want to do anything you can to help.