It's time for equal time -- time for the readers of this column to have the last word. This month, your letters were filled with helpful advice and justified criticism.
"After years of reading your columns about how to keep the romance intact in a busy marriage, we finally reached a point where we had to take your advice or take ourselves to the nearest divorce court," wrote a Sacramento, Calif., wife of 17 years.
"Now we hire a sitter every Friday night. It's our night out, our time away from jobs, kids and other distractions. And the rule is: no more than 15 minutes each to talk about our jobs, and no more than 15 minutes -- total time -- to talk about our kids.
"We supply the money for pizza and a VCR tape, so our children look forward to an evening of staying up late and being entertained. We pay our sitter well, so she's happy, too.
"I can't tell you how much my husband and I look forward to our weekly dates," she added. "A quiet dinner and time to catch up with each other before we jump into our usual child-and-errand-filled weekends makes all the difference in our lives -- including our sex lives!"
"Blush. Stammer. Sorry!" is about all I can say to this letter from Syracuse, N.Y.:
"I'm writing in response to your column called 'Hire Help and Plan to Chase Stress Away,' " wrote the owner of a cleaning service, "and I agree that hiring someone to clean does take away a worry from an already overworked individual.
"I am curious, though, about your specific information. Here, paying $8 an hour is unheard of, and you do people like me a disservice by sounding as if it's a countrywide 'norm.'
"Rarely will you find someone who charges by the hour at all, actually," she wrote, "because we charge by the job. Since most houses take three to four hours to clean, the hourly rate works out to somewhere between $10 and $15.
"Oh -- and do encourage your readers to shop around before they pick a cleaning service," her letter ended, "something else you failed to do in your column."
A reader from Orlando, Fla., wrote a long, thoughtful letter about a recent column outlining the basic rules of workplace conduct.
"I disagree with your rule about not bragging," she wrote. "Women entering the business world must understand that their good work done in silence is not going to be recognized, that the business world is not going to be like Mom's PTA or Girl Scout leader ventures," she wrote.
"And as far as your rule about [following] the Golden Rule, I agree with treating others as you would like to be treated, but be aware that not everyone will exhibit this behavior toward you.
"Learn to expect that some people you work with will try to sideline your career. Don't get blindsided by believing that everyone's actions will be as honorable as yours."
She wasn't the only one to disagree with the "Don't Brag" rule. "Just when we [women] are starting to take the credit we deserve -- insist upon, in fact -- you advise us to go back to being shrinking violets. A thump on the head to you!" wrote a Raleigh, N.C., reader.
"I couldn't disagree more with your 'don't brag' rule!" added a reader in Green Bay, Wis. "I myself consciously set aside about 20 percent of my time to do personal PR -- something I had a hard time justifying back when I was the kind of humble, ladylike type you seem to be promoting.
"Promoting ourselves just eases the way for us to get more accomplished and be recognized and paid for it -- something men have known forever and we women need to learn once and for all!"
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.