My boyfriend and I have started planning this year's summer holiday. He has his heart set on a laid-back beach break somewhere sunny and exotic, whereas I would rather visit a city, see some art galleries and absorb the local culture. How can we resolve our differences?
Dear Beach Bummer
I have learned, over many years of blissful union with the Agony Uncle, that the key to happiness in a relationship is not unlimited supplies of cash, a swing hanging from the bedroom ceiling or permission to have a no-strings affair with the handsome and virile pool boy. It is compromise. So, my dear, why don't you just do both? Have a week on a beach, soaking up the rays, then later in the year – when Florence or Venice or Monte Carlo is less crowded and oppressive – plan your dream city break. It needn't be complicated, nor, if you plan well, any more expensive. On the other hand, have you considered the possibility that this fundamental difference of opinion is a sign that you are entirely wrong for each other? Don't go splashing out on a holiday until you're absolutely positive you want to spend an entire week in this man's company.
Dear Agony Aunt
I recently bought a beautiful Weimaraner puppy. She is my pride and joy and I love her dearly, but she has developed a nasty habit of eating anything she can get her teeth on. She's already worked her way through most of my partner's sock drawer and last week she digested my favourite leopard-print thong. What do you suggest I do?
Dear Dog's Breakfast
It seems to me your poor, put-upon pooch has the right idea. She is merely displaying her excellent taste and protecting you from making any further fashion faux pas in the knicker department. Just be thankful you weren't wearing the hideous item of clothing at the time. Buy her a big, juicy doggie treat as a reward, invest in some more sensible undergarments and vow to leave the animal prints to the animals in future.
Dear Agony Aunt
With three young children and a full-time job, everything is starting to get a little on top of me. I'd love to employ a cleaner to help keep the house in order but I would be terribly embarrassed to admit I needed help to my right-on friends. What should I do?
Dear Hoover Happy
Having help is nothing to be ashamed of, and it's certainly not an admission of failure. Heavens, I don't know what I'd do without my own little treasure. For one thing, you'd be helping redistribute wealth and keeping someone in a job, which is surely something to be proud of. For another, no one wants to live in a hovel. And by the sounds of things, you're heading in that direction fast. So by all means make some calls, but remember this person will be seeing you at your most vulnerable and intimate, so ensure you find someone you can trust implicitly. If she steals your identity and your husband, you'll only have yourself to blame.
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This article was first published in Scotsman on Sunday on 10 January, 2010.