'The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations,' by Jane Buckingham

Not to state the obvious, but death is very painful. And unless you've experienced the death of someone close to you, it's truly hard to know what such a loss feels like. As someone said to me when my mother died, "You've just joined a club you never wanted to be a part of." She was fifty and I was twenty-one, but I felt closer to her than to anyone my own age. And no one really knows how to deal with someone who has had someone close die, since we all need very different things when we're in mourning. In fact, you'll probably be so overwhelmed with the loss that you have no idea what you actually want in terms of support. Make it clear that you need his shoulder to cry on, but don't feel that you need to justify to him the way you show your emotions. Likewise, don't assume that his stoicism means he doesn't care. The death you're dealing with might have brought forth his own fears of mortality. Or he may just not be capable of emoting in the same way. Ask him for the help you need, but don't worry if he can't share in your mourning.

He never does anything for your birthday.

Welcome to my world -- and that of my poor husband. If he does nothing, he loses. If he goes all out, he loses, too -- because unfailingly he waits until the last minute to make plans, and ends up spending tons of money on something haphazard. Princess problems, right? I used to take all of this really personally -- where's my cheeky engraved stationery? My gift certificate to the newest ecospa? My French macaroons? But I've come to realize that I often set my husband up for failure -- if I don't really know what I want for my birthday, how is he supposed to?

It's not fair to assume your man is a mind reader. Let him know that it's important for you to be celebrated on your special day, and share whatever you're secretly wishing for, no matter how major, insignificant, or bizarre. No fair answering with "I don't know; what do you want to do?" He can offer you a few suggestions or you can tell him exactly what kind of celebration you want -- a dinner for two, a scavenger hunt, a "surprise" party? Set the date and draw him a map, if necessary, but the key is to leave him in charge. Once the big day unfolds, let him know exactly how grateful you are for it. It shouldn't be such a tough sell next year.

The fire is out -- you're stuck in a rut.

The reason fairy tales end at the wedding is that no one wants to see the happy couple five years into the relationship, when she's a bored hausfrau and he's schtupping the handmaiden. Relationships take work, especially when it comes to trying to get back some of that obsessive infatuation that came so easily in the beginning stages of your union. Start with yourself. What makes you feel sexy? Toss the worn-out sweatpants and stretched-out T-shirts you sleep in and get a soft little nightie.

Get your hair done and try on some new colors at Sephora. Do what it takes to get you back to the place where you're checking yourself out in store windows and your rearview mirror. Once you have your hotness back, start flirting. Grab your man's ass in the kitchen, compliment his baby blues, or wink at him over the dinner table. If you start bringing back the behaviors that marked the beginning of your relationship, you'll start reigniting some of that fire.

You can't stop fighting in front of your children.

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