Questionable Advice

My husband and I like to make Valentine’s Day plans together. Do you have any fun (safe) date ideas this year?

—Allison

Well, Allison, I’m a geezer, and geezers often (but not always) love the old-fashioned stuff sometimes, so that’s where I’m going with this. A box of good Valentine’s candy—like from a “candy shoppe” and not from a stacked-up pile in a big-box store—is always a hit. A letter (handwritten) with a list of “let me count the ways” from each other is also always a hit. Rose petals all over the marital bed are lovely, but they have to be cleaned up later. Lit candles are majorly dangerous. Best of all, ask your husband out to a great dinner without his knowing you’ve hired a barbershop quartet to come in during dessert to sing a couple of love songs, including, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”! There won’t be a dry eye in the house or the kitchen.

My husband made a snarky remark and immediately apologized, but I’m still peeved. I was getting ready to leave the house, and he commented on how long I was taking. I can tell he regrets it. Can I forgive him, even though I’m frustrated?

—Stacy

For that one tiny observation you’re holding a grudge? Stacy, are you serious? You’ve got to be kidding. Do you ever read the newspaper or watch the news? Spouses do and say far, far worse things to each other routinely. You can “tell he regrets it”? Isn’t that enough Stacy? Forgive him? Yes. You actually want more apologies? That’s cold. He should forgive you for taking so long to get ready to leave the house and taking so long to forgive him.

This Valentine’s Day looks to be a lonely one. I’ve lost someone I love, and I have been having a hard time. It doesn’t help that I haven’t been able to connect much with our friends for solace because they are quarantining. How can I get through this?

—Mia

Hello Mia: I’m so so sorry for your loss—a pain that will never go away but can be compartmentalized.

I think one of the hardest things people who are grieving have to hear is words coming from well-meaning and caring friends, and most are so hard to hear and so cliche. Even though you know they truly mean well, you’re left with wanting to scream “STOP! DON’T SAY THAT!” And, of course, we can’t do that, can we?

So now having said all that, I’m going to give you a quote from an author named Harriet Hodgson who suffered a loss such as yours, and who’s written many books on the issue of grieving.

She said, “If your grief is new and raw, please watch for signs of avoidance. Let the simple tasks of daily living comfort you. Find comfort in hobbies and helping others. Most important, find a middle pathway between occupying your mind and excessiveness. This path will lead you to a new life.”

I personally believe and know this, Mia. Right now, you don’t have to do anything but do ease yourself slowly into Harriet Hodgson’s thoughts—they will comfort you, and they do work.

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