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home : columns : dear harriette August 9, 2020

7/2/2020 7:49:00 AM
Family grows testy in close quarters

DEAR HARRIETTE: Being able to spend more time with my family during quarantine has been great. However, as time wears on, we are all beginning to get on each other's nerves, and fights between family members have increased. I don't want our home to be a hostile environment or family tensions to rise during this time. How can we work with this limited space and these restrictions to make a more civil and understanding home environment? -- Making Space

DEAR MAKING SPACE: You are singing the song of our times! As much as family members may love each other, too much togetherness can be too much. I recommend calling a family meeting and talking it out. Key word: talking. Agree not to yell or hurl accusations. Set the engagement terms so that everybody knows you are meeting to figure out ways to keep the peace during this incredibly stressful period.

Designate times and areas in the home that can be reserved for each family member -- to create space. Agree that you don't always have to talk. Establish usage rules around common areas and technology, particularly the TV and the bathroom. Give everyone chores so that keeping the house clean doesn't land on one person's shoulders. Figure out safe ways to venture outside for fresh air and alone time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently got rejected by someone I am in love with because he had to move across the country for work. He said that "maybe in a few years" we can be together, but he doesn't want a long-distance relationship right now. Is there such a thing as wrong timing, or was this just an excuse for him to turn me down? Should I try to get over him, or should I hold out for the possibility that we may be together in the future? -- Doomed

DEAR DOOMED: Maya Angelou said, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." As hurt as you are now, you must look at this situation for what it is. The man you love so much is not ready to love you back in the way that you deserve and need. He has told you as much. You need to believe him.

To answer your question, yes, there is such a thing as bad timing. Indeed, it is remarkable to me how rare it is for two people to find each other, fall in love and build a life together. That might sound nuts, but think about it. How often do we know of stories where one person was in love and the other was not? Or something stood in the way of the fulfillment of a relationship? I don't say this to invoke gloom and doom, but to point out that it is rare and wonderful when the stars align and you experience true acceptance from someone who wants to partner with you in life at the very time that you want to do it.

Now doesn't seem to be the time for you and this person. Don't run after him or allow your heart to be bound to him after he leaves. Instead, accept the sad truth that this relationship is not meant to be. Pivot and move on to the life you are living. Keep your eyes open. Your partner may be standing in front of you, but you have to open your eyes in order to see.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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