Dear Carolyn: My husband drags his feet. Now that our rent has gone up again, we have an opportunity to actually buy something, but he doesn't want to talk about it. We currently live walking distance from the beach, where he surfs every morning. I'm ready to move on. How can I convince him that it's time?

— To Move or Not to Move

To Move or Not to Move: How can he convince you that it’s not time?

He has just as much say as you do.

You both probably also have equally valid points in your favor. I assume yours is financial, yes? That you don’t want to keep paying more and more in rent when you can build equity instead?

Maybe you also have an idea of homeownership as certainty, permanence, maturity, and of surfing as none of these. Just guessing.

I’ll also guess, since you mention it, daily surfing is his argument for staying put. Maybe his morning ritual is his way of life, his center, the point of everything.

More important than buying a home together — overwhelmingly so — is that you both understand and respect what makes your lives meaningful, even if it’s not something each of you would choose for yourselves.

So if you want the assurance of knowing your home will still be your home a year or three or 20 from now, and if he wants the assurance of morning waves, then you’ll need to work together to accommodate and preserve what each of you finds meaningful. Maybe you save up longer, buy less, rent always.

For that you’ll need to talk, obviously. But I suspect he’ll be more forthcoming if he’s confident you want to hear him — on surfing or whatever else he’s saying through his resistance — vs. push to “correct” him.

Dear Carolyn: My father died six weeks ago pretty unexpectedly. Most friends have been incredibly supportive, but a couple haven't so much as sent a text. These are people I have considered REALLY good friends over a lot of years.

In my head, I know there are probably the usual reasons — they didn't know what to say so they didn't say anything, they felt vulnerable, maybe they had their own stuff going on. But I feel really stung by their absence.

Now some of these friends are reaching out to "grab lunch" without any acknowledgment about my dad or being nowhere to be found when I needed them most. My head says I should accept them where they are and have lunch with them, but my heart is having a damn hard time feeling charitable.

I know the longer I put them off, the harder it's going to be to find my way back to them, but I don't know how to get across this friendship chasm. Any words of wisdom?

— Friends Not There

Friends Not There: No wisdom, just sympathy. I’m sorry about your dad.

And about your absentee friends.

Since you are still upset, I don’t think it’s realistic to “accept them where they are.” You will bring raw feelings with you that will render any such acceptance insincere, even if you’re sincere in your intent.

I also don’t think your rational mind can argue persuasively for these “usual reasons.” Yes, a lot of people freeze around death, and, yes, sometimes friends will have their own miseries to attend to just as you’re dealing with yours — and, yes, sometimes B or C friends show up out of nowhere as your A friends dive for cover — but you will believe all this emotionally only when you say things out loud and wait to hear how friends respond.

So I urge you just to decide which friends you want back in your life, accept their invitations and then, when you get there, ask. “I miss you, so I’m here — but I’ve had six weeks of hell. Is there a reason you didn’t get in touch sooner?”

Even if this isn’t enough to salvage your friendships, your honesty might teach them what to do when someone needs them like this again. In a culture that’s standoffish at best about the whole subject of death, sometimes people with hard losses must serve as tutors to those who (mercifully) haven’t been there.

Dear Carolyn: My sister-in-law insists on sending me a Christmas card even though I have told her in writing, twice, that I no longer want any contact. I have had many mental health issues, many of them related to my family, and I told them not to ever contact me for any reason. Since then I have reached a mostly peaceful time in my life.

But she continues to send cards. This time I called and screamed at her but I am not convinced this will stop her. How do I get her out of my life? Both my husband and therapist agree my grievances are valid.

— C.

C.: Oh, my goodness. Screaming is not valid even when grievances are. Please just ask your husband to screen your mail.

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