While I'm away, readers give the advice.

Two-plus years ago, tongue cancer knocked me down. Turned me from 155 pounds, fairly muscular, and extremely active, into a 130-pound weakling, unable to eat, and certainly into a very undesirable person - let alone lover.

For one year, my very attractive wife rubbed cream onto my neck, helped feed me, and drove this shell of once was everywhere.

Still, we both kept the compliments flowing, the encouragement strong, and the jokes coming as to what would happen if ever I could stay awake long enough, and as to just how exhausted I would be if ever that time once again appeared.

Today, at 143 pounds and climbing, I can stay awake, and, while things may never be the way they once were, we are doing just fine, thank you.

The point being, when change in the form of The Love Destroyer charges in, then is when all the wonderful things that formed your bond need to be brought to the front and held up high above your head so that their light can keep you focused on all that was, and will again be, wonderful. Worked for us.

- Happy in

the North State

On feeling grief over a loved one's wedding

When my brother, Joe, was married, I had some real problems. His wife was (and still is) one of the prettiest, sweetest, and most decent people I have ever met. I was very happy, but I was also deeply grieved that my life was going to go on without daily interaction from my beloved brother. My life was forever changed and my family unit was both up one member and down two. I both loved them and resented them. I couldn't rain on their parade, so I talked to my mother instead. Surprise! She told me that she knew exactly what I was talking about, having gone through similar situations with her own family, and that she felt it again now as her son was leaving the nest. I accepted the pain as part of life, we hugged each other, and we went on living. Eventually, the sorrow morphs into a stronger connection to family.

That wedding was almost 50 years ago now, and I still remember that odd disconnect. Now, though, I thank God for it. It means we're doing it right.

- E.R.

On the grandma who plays favorites

True challenge! One tactic I use is to redirect the potential for fault to myself, and recruit the target person to help me with my potential for fault. I ask Grandma to help me improve my own parenting by coaching me in absolute fairness with my children: Buy for one, buy the same for the other; play with one, play with the other; praise one, praise the other. Help and coach me, Grandma, with comments out of earshot and with your own skillful modeling.

Usually, Grandma does not dismiss this strong compliment as insincere, but that risk does exist.

- S.D.