DEAR ABBY: How do you explain to a man how uncomfortable hot flashes are? I'm a perimenopausal woman who has been married for 12 years to a sweet husband who loves to "snuggle."
But when I'm having a hot flash, the last thing I want is a warm body touching me. My husband thinks I'm "mean" and that I'm one of those "freaky females."
How can I make him understand that hot flashes happen, and that it should be OK for me to ask for some space until the feeling passes?
- Hot Flash Hilda
DEAR HILDA: Start with the basics. Tell him (if he hasn't already noticed) that when a woman experiences a hot flash, her skin suddenly feels intensely warm and she often begins to perspire - sometimes profusely.
The feeling of heat can be so strong that some women suddenly remove their jackets, and others also feel an overwhelming urge to remove their jewelry. Fortunately, the feeling usually passes within a few minutes.
If your husband doesn't get the message, then preheat your oven to 450 degrees for 15 minutes, open the door and ask him to lean in. Ladies, have you anything to add?
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our 80s. For many years we used to entertain during the holidays. Now we wonder where all our former guests have disappeared to.
Our annual parties grew to include more than 80 friends. Dinner was prepared by a chef; we had a bartender and a pianist. People said they looked forward to those gatherings year after year.
We never expected anyone to entertain us in the same way, yet even being asked out for hamburgers would have been such a treat. Very few reciprocated in any way except to bring a few bottles of wine. We miss them and wonder if people realize that a simple get-together is always appreciated.
- Food for Thought, Sparks, Nev.
DEAR FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Some of the guests you entertained so beautifully may have been intimidated because it was done on such a grand scale.
But, if my mail is any indication, it also appears that many people have "forgotten" that there is a social obligation that goes with accepting invitations, and that the guests must reciprocate with an invitation of some sort in return.
DEAR ABBY: I work at a public library and live not far from where I work.
A lot of people who use the library live in my apartment building and I run into them often. These people never hesitate to stop me when I'm clearly off the clock to ask me a slew of library questions.
I confess I'm a bit of a doormat, and I'm afraid to ask them to leave me alone. Is there a way to tell those people to quit harassing me when I'm not working? I'd feel so much better about myself if I learned how.
- The Answer Lady
DEAR ANSWER LADY: Look the person in the eye and say, "That may take some researching, but I'll be glad to answer that when I'm at the library. Ask me then."
However, if you can't find the courage to say this, then what you need more than an answer from an advice columnist is assertiveness training. A psychologist can give you a referral or some pointers.