DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend just got a big promotion at her job. She told me about it, but she made me promise not to say anything. She is married to a controlling man who doesn't like that she has a great career. The way she manages that is by downplaying her accomplishments. When she is at home, she is wife and mother. Rarely does she talk about her job.
My friend told me she is afraid that if I brag about her and put anything on social media, her husband may learn about it and get mad at her. I think this sounds crazy. Hiding who she is from the man she is married to doesn't make sense to me. Plus, her children have no idea how amazing their mother is. This is weird and unhealthy, from my perspective, yet they have been married and doing this for more than 15 years. How can I get her to see that? -- Friend in Need, Jersey City, New Jersey
DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: Your friend has a right to live her life as she pleases. As difficult as it is for you to observe, you should not interfere. You would be surprised to know how many couples live out this scenario. We still live in a society where men typically are valued more than women. This is generally true regarding wages, job security and even reaching the glass ceiling. So when a wife exceeds all typical expectations, it can be intimidating for some husbands. Clearly, your friend has chosen to downplay what she does outside of her home in order to keep the peace. You don't have to agree with her choices. You do need to stay out of it.
As far as her children are concerned, encourage your friend to expose them to options for their lives as they grow up so that they can see that the sky is the limit. You can suggest that she let them know about her work -- especially at pivotal moments.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am definitely stretched too thin, and now it's causing me a problem. I work freelance on many projects. I am a member of two civic organizations. I am active in my church and in my children's schools. I find it hard to say no because I know how to get things done. I have become the go-to person for everybody, it seems.
Just recently, it started falling apart. I double-booked myself for two very important projects. They are occurring literally at the same time. One is for work and one is for church. I have to work, but I feel horrible letting down my church. I told my pastor when I realized my mistake, but this is pointing to a bigger problem. I can't juggle all these balls. It is too much. How do I get out of some of these commitments? -- Entangled, Detroit
DEAR ENTANGLED: You need to push pause on everything for a moment and regroup. First, take a nap. Literally rest yourself so that you have the presence of mind to think straight. Next, pull out your calendar and look to see what you have already committed to doing. Now, build in time for rest and for play. Look closely to see what you must remove in order to create this more flexible schedule. Now contact those individuals and tell them that you will not be able to participate as fully or at all because you do not have the energy to do that anymore. "No" is a complete sentence. Use it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently learned that an old boyfriend of mine is getting married to a woman I know. I haven't dated him for years, so I have no issues with this. I'm actually really happy for them. I think they are probably well-suited for each other.
Is it appropriate for me to congratulate them on their upcoming nuptials? When he and I broke up more than 10 years ago, it was on good terms. We sort of grew in different ways, and it just naturally ended. We have remained cordial over the years. We share a couple of mutual friends, so I have had occasion to run into him from time to time. I don't know her as well, but I see her at social events. Is it OK for me to call him or send him a congratulatory note? -- Wish Them Well, Dallas
DEAR WISH THEM WELL: In a word, yes! If you have no ulterior motive and truly want to offer your blessing, go for it. Since you know how to reach him, a call of congratulations would be nice. Tell him you learned of his upcoming wedding and that you want him to know how happy you are for him and his bride. Point out that you know her a bit and think they are well-suited. Keep the conversation short and sweet.
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