Dear Abby

Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: My husband of 30-plus years cheated on me several years ago with one of his young private students. In our state, she would have been underage, but she was living in an adjacent state with different laws. I had just finished six months of nursing his mom to heaven. She had Alzheimer's, and he did very little to help.

We had one of the few fights in our marriage about his affair, but nothing was ever resolved. I suspect he's still in contact with her, but I can't prove it. He has never apologized for his behavior. Otherwise, he has been a good husband. He is sick himself now, and I don't feel right about leaving him. Any thoughts? -- NOT RIGHT IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR NOT RIGHT: Under the circumstances, you are a nicer woman than he deserves. If you feel you should stay with him until death -- or recovery -- I respect you for it. However, if you are one of those caring individuals who expends so much time and energy that doing it could hurt your own health, I think you're entitled to spend as much time as you need taking care of YOURSELF.

DEAR ABBY: A friend blew me off after a 35-year friendship. I've no idea why -- just a very hurtful, nasty message. Over the years, we had many ups and downs, but we always made up. Now it has been almost two years since I heard from her.

Last week, for my birthday, she tried to contact me, but I have her blocked. She contacted my sister and said she wants to bury the hatchet. I said, "WHERE? IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD?" I haven't contacted her yet and am not sure I want to. She hurt me badly. I cried for so long. She was my best friend. I knew she wasn't perfect. She is the original Drama Queen, but we were still closer than most sisters.

I would at least like to know what made her blow us apart. Should I contact her? My pastor gave a sermon on forgive and forget, but I don't know if I can do either. -- FOE OR FRIEND IN ILLINOIS

DEAR FOE OR FRIEND: Contact the woman and get your questions answered. After that, you can decide whether the estrangement is healthier for you than her drama.

As to your pastor's sermon, I believe that while people should forgive, they should never forget.

DEAR ABBY: We're a senior couple who have been together 20 years. My wife and I have a date night twice a week. I feel our physical intimacy melds our spirits and souls together. But lately my wife's new rule is, "Don't bother me while my TV programs are on!" When I told her I feel her programs are more important to her than I am, she got upset. So did I. Nothing's been the same since. What's your take on this? -- OLD GULF COAST LOVER

DEAR LOVER: My take is that you should reschedule your date nights to ones that don't conflict with your wife's favorite TV shows, or invest in a digital video recorder so your wife doesn't miss her programs and you don't miss a trick.

DEAR ABBY: I am being married in a couple of months. I feel like I'm living a real-life fairy tale -- but not always in a good way. My fiance's stepfamily has made it clear that they do not approve of our union. They have gone as far as to ask me to leave him. He is appalled by their behavior and has told them they are no longer welcome in our lives or at our wedding. They were livid and blamed me.

I don't want my wedding to be the cause of pain, so I have tried to be understanding, gracious and forgiving, but they are toxic people. My fiance is my very own real-life Prince Charming, and I want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with him.

Abby, I am terrified they are going to show up to our wedding anyway or try to somehow sabotage it. What should I do? If they show up, should I let them stay or have them removed? How do I prevent them from intruding in the future? -- CINDERELLA IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR CINDERELLA: Allow me to congratulate you and your fiance on your upcoming nuptials and offer my sympathy for your grief, which is undeserved. You may need to hire professional security to ensure the peace, or see if security is provided at the venue. The way to prevent unwanted intruders in the future would be to move as far away from his family as is feasible.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and I have been estranged on and off for many years, most recently for the last 22 months. At that time, she angrily took her 8-year-old daughter and left our home, where she had been living since another eviction. She said she was going to tell everyone I kicked her out. Then she blocked me on Facebook, removed my access to my granddaughter's classroom progress reports and my name from the school emergency card. I had no idea where they went. My poor granddaughter was in tears. She had been upset moving back in with us again, and told me she wished her mom would get a job so they could stay in one place for real.

After no contact, I have been told my daughter is being married. "Save the date" cards have gone out. I have no desire or intention of going to a wedding of someone who has spent half her life being cruel to me, lying, ignoring me, being jealous at her sister's wedding and so on, with never an apology for her horrible behavior. She's a Jekyll and Hyde.

We live in the same community, and I do all I can to avoid seeing her. I'm happy for her and delighted my granddaughter will finally have a bedroom of her own, but I have no intention of playing happy family to someone who regularly sharpens knives in my back. How do I answer any inquiries that may come up about the wedding? -- CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE

DEAR CAN'T: Do not engage in a litany of complaints and accusations. You can get the message across to anyone who asks about the wedding by saying that you are not involved in the planning of the wedding and questions should be directed to your daughter. You do not have to discuss it further. It's short and sweet and gets the message across.

DEAR ABBY: I recently found out I am pregnant. I'm only 17 and scared I won't be a good mother. I'm also anxious about giving birth. I'm due in three months, so I know time is going by fast.

My mother never taught me right from wrong, and having to raise a child at my age is really scary. I don't want to give my baby up for adoption because I know God does things in mysterious ways. I feel like this is an obstacle he is putting me through to make me stronger in life. Can you give me some advice on how to be a good mother or guide me on how to give my child the necessities? -- CONCERNED TEENAGE MOTHER

DEAR CONCERNED: You will be facing challenging circumstances. Consider talking to a social worker at the hospital where you will give birth for advice on how to get the necessities for your baby. It is more important now than ever to complete your education by getting your high school diploma or a GED, so you will be able to better support the child. A trusted teacher or counselor at school may be able to guide you. If there are older, more experienced family members who are willing, they may be able to offer emotional and practical support. And, if possible, the baby's father should be involved.

DEAR ABBY: I recently quit drinking because it was clearly becoming a problem for me. I was hiding alcohol, putting it in water bottles, drinking it like water, etc.

I struggle with anxiety, which makes AA not a viable option for me. I looked online and was able to find SMART Recovery. So far, it has been a valuable resource for me. I am sticking to the program and find the people online to be supportive and helpful.

My struggle is, because I had been drinking for so long, people judge me by my past. Even at home. How do I get to a point where people take me for who I am now and stop dwelling on the past? -- SOBERING REALITY

DEAR SOBERING: I applaud you for recognizing you had a problem and doing something about it. You mentioned that you "recently" quit drinking. I wish you had mentioned how long ago because it may have something to do with how you are being treated now.

All you can do to change people's perception of you is sincerely apologize and try to make amends to anyone you may have hurt or offended while you were under the influence. It may take time for them to trust that you are no longer the person you were, so be patient and continue to work on your sobriety. With time, you WILL be respected for the person you are now.

DEAR ABBY: Can you think of any way to tell social media friends that I am not interested in their political views? I respect everyone's political beliefs, but I am very tired of politics, and there must be something else they can post. Should I "unfollow" these people until after the elections and hope for the best? I suspect I am not alone on this. Any help would be much appreciated! -- "WAR" WEARY IN ARKANSAS

DEAR WEARY: These days it does seem like everyone's a pundit, but you cannot dictate what others choose to post. Because the posts are not entertaining, I see nothing wrong with "hiding" their posts until the election season is over.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and have had trouble with romance for as long as I can remember. I've had almost 80 crushes since kindergarten. I counted.

Right now I am close to a relationship with a boy at my school who is a year older. I have had feelings for "Ben" for almost a year, and I found it was mutual a few months ago. He invited me to coffee but later canceled, explaining that he wasn't emotionally prepared, which was clear. He feels the way he does for a reason. Ben is a transgender male, and his mother disapproves, as do many of our classmates.

Two months ago, we agreed to be "just friends ... for now." Since then, no feelings have changed for either of us. However, I know Ben still isn't ready, largely because of his mother's and his classmates' influence.

I'm getting impatient. I've been in relationships before, the middle-school kind, and I know how my brain functions. Right now, I worry obsessively about how he feels. This will subside after a real relationship starts. But before that happens, the issue is all-consuming. I constantly rehash concerns we need to talk about in my mind, and I don't know how to ignore them until we can speak again. It makes my grades suffer.

I blame Ben's mother and classmates for the stress he's under. They're the reason for his dysphoria and panic attacks. I'm angry. I want her to leave her son alone. How can I wait peacefully and get over my bitterness toward his mother? -- CRUSHING TEEN IN OHIO

DEAR TEEN: Anger, frustration and bitterness can make people sick. You need to find ways to get your mind off this budding romance and channel these negative emotions, if only because Ben isn't ready for what you have in mind. Bear in mind that he is on a long and complicated journey. (Give him props for honesty.) Then buckle down and concentrate on your schoolwork, find a sport or other activity you can involve yourself in and, if your school doesn't have a Genders and Sexualities Alliance, consider going online to gsanetwork.org and starting one at your school.

DEAR ABBY: I work in the medical field in a family practice. I love my job and helping people, but the problem is, my boss never tells the truth to our patients and overcharges them anytime he gets a chance. The sicker the patient, the more heartless he is with them. He has told some patients that we, the assistants, told him they owe him money.

It has reached a point where I cannot handle it anymore. Knowing that I see everything he does, he now can't stand me and constantly criticizes everything I do. He has become verbally aggressive and abusive.

I know this is unhealthy for me. I have insomnia because of it, and when I do get to sleep, I have nightmares about this situation. Abby, please help me because I do not know what service to contact to make a complaint against him. -- SCARED IN GEORGIA

DEAR SCARED: Document everything you have observed. Then talk to your local police about possible fraud being committed by your employer. Next, contact your state medical board and report what has been going on at the expense of the patients. If these patients are senior citizens, reach out to your Area Agency on Aging (aging.georgia.gov/locations), because the "good doctor" may be committing elder abuse, which could land him in the prison system.

DEAR ABBY: I've been friends with "Brenda" for nearly 40 years. We've had our share of tough times, but I've always been a good friend to her even though it felt one-sided. The last straw for me was a few months ago, when I had major surgery.

I didn't hear from her for three weeks, and when she did call, she talked about her life the whole time and showed no interest in how I was doing. Brenda has now had major surgery. Two weeks have gone by, and I haven't called her. I want her to have a taste of her own selfish medicine.

I have been upfront with her in the past that she hasn't always been there for me. She apologizes but nothing changes. Am I being too sensitive about her lack of caring about anyone but herself? -- OVER IT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR OVER IT: I don't think so. But if you step back and review your relationship with Brenda, you will realize that it has always been this way. Perhaps it's time to reevaluate whether maintaining the kind of relationship you have with her is worth the effort because, after 40 years, she isn't going to change. Either accept her as she is or move on.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 36-year-old female, smart, well-educated, attractive, successful, and a fantastic mom and partner. My problem is, I can't stop stalking my boyfriend's ex on social media. It seems like she can't let go. She constantly posts comments about their previous relationship, about his family and still loving them, and she's also close friends with my boyfriend's sister.

I don't know why I constantly compare myself to her. I know what I bring to the table. Why am I so threatened and concerned by this gal? She's younger than I am and posts all her feelings onto the social media world, even things about my boyfriend, some of which have included remarks about me.

Why can't I stop being so nosy? I keep telling myself the past doesn't matter, he's with me now, don't worry about her view from the sidelines, etc. But I'm beginning to feel like something is wrong with ME. Help, please. -- STALKER IN TEXAS

DEAR STALKER: You remind me of a celebrity who can't tear herself away from the tabloids, regardless of how cruel or off-base they are. The only thing wrong with you is you are allowing your insecurity to overtake you. As you stated, your partner is with you now. If he had any interest in his ex, that wouldn't be the case. Because you can't seem to pull yourself away from the internet, consider "detoxing" by scheduling some conversations with a licensed mental health professional.

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law is his own worst enemy. While my husband and I were dating, we visited his father regularly. Since our marriage, our visits have become less frequent. This is because my husband and I both have demanding jobs, and I am in school. We are BUSY trying to secure a stable life together.

My FIL has taken offense to this. He insists that the real reason we don't visit is because we are angry with him and hate him. We have tried explaining that it isn't so, but he refuses to believe us. He's convinced that he has somehow deeply offended us, and we are refusing to talk about it.

Unfortunately, he obsesses over this every time we DO visit and makes it awkward by guilt-tripping me and my husband, begging us to tell him what he did wrong. He also tries to prevent us from leaving when it's time to go by distracting us with conversation, refusing to see us out the door, and sometimes physically sitting in front of the car so we can't drive off. Neither my husband nor I look forward to visits anymore because they have become such a chore.

My FIL has issues with mental illness (which contribute to his behavior), but he refuses to get help. Worse, he has an elementary school-age child who believes everything he says. The child is convinced we hate and have abandoned them because of hearing my FIL talk. I am frustrated and sad for the child, but my words to my FIL fall on deaf ears. Do you have any advice? -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN THE SOUTH

DEAR D.I.L.: Frankly, I am surprised your FIL is not focusing his entire attention on the child who is living at home rather than obsessing about his adult son and you. The man appears to be not only disturbed but also irrational.

Because your husband has dealt with his father his entire life, take your cues from him. If your father-in-law is currently married (I assume he must be because he has a young child living with him), talking to his wife might help. She may be able to help counteract the damage that is being created with the child.

DEAR ABBY: My son is welcoming his first child at the age of 39, and I will be hosting a baby shower for him and his girlfriend. The problem is, I asked him for a list of attendees, and at the top of the list is someone my son and daughter were friends with since middle school. However, a few years ago, she interfered with my daughter's marriage and caused a lot of heartache, so my daughter cut all ties with her.

My son travels a lot. He is not home often and doesn't know the extent of what happened between my daughter and their mutual friend. I'm not sure how to handle this. Should I not invite her, or should I tell my son what happened and suggest he not invite her out of respect for his sister? Or do I tell my daughter this is about her brother, it's only one get-together, and she needs to respect her brother's wishes?

I'm in the middle and not sure what to do. At one time I was close with this girl, but after what she did to my daughter, I haven't spoken to her either. -- GETTING ALONG IN THE EAST

DEAR GETTING ALONG: Your son may travel a lot, but he has a phone. Call him, fill him in and ask how he and his girlfriend want this handled. I'm betting he will tell you to scratch "Miss Troublemaker" off the list.

DEAR ABBY: I felt compelled to write after seeing your Dec. 15 response to "Anywhere, USA," the hosts seeking guidance about how to respond to the daughter of longtime friends who had recently visited. The daughter had emailed asking for a report on her parents' habits and conduct during their trip.

As a caregiving daughter myself, knowing many other caregiving adult children and belonging to a few support groups for caregivers, I believe inquiring of family friends and other relatives about their loved ones is not wrong or invasive. Our loved ones behave differently in different situations. How they negotiate changes and social situations without the caregiver present may provide important clues and information regarding their mental/cognitive status.

Caregivers try to give their loved ones as much freedom as safely possible. Gaining information about the visit would possibly give clues regarding the ability to travel independently or not, and whether they can still negotiate social and public situations appropriately. These are examples of things that a caregiver will never observe without the eyes of others.

Many caregivers out there read your column, and others who have aging, declining friends with caregiving kids. People must not hesitate to say something when they notice a change in behavior. -- LOYAL READER IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR READER: I'm printing your letter because it is representative of the response I received about "Anywhere, USA's" letter. You raise an important issue about how it "takes a village" to band together and to share observations about changes in older people's comportment beyond simple aging.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Heidi," is 39. She is successful, owns her own business and lives with her boyfriend of five years. I'll call him Rick. They have two beautiful boys, 3 and 18 months. She has decided to tie the knot with Rick with a nice, somewhat big wedding.

As Heidi has gotten older, she has been changing into a different person. She has become self-centered and controlling, and she puts Rick down cruelly at times. I think he's a good guy, but maybe just not for her. I really don't know because I stay out of their lives.

What's making me uncomfortable is, my daughter has told only me that she's doing all this wedding stuff without getting an actual marriage license. I don't even know if Rick is aware. I looked this up and saw that some people are now having what's called "commitment ceremonies." When I tried to talk to her about it, she became defensive, cut me off, and then sent me a long, nasty email. So now I just step back.

When I think of the guests (100 to 150), I feel she should be honest and call it what it is. We are presently not communicating because I won't respond to that kind of email. I won't argue with her. But I don't know where to go at this point. I'm worried about her state of mind. She is supposedly seeing a therapist, and a few weeks back I suggested she and Rick get marriage counseling. I would love to hear your thoughts. -- TRADITIONAL MOM IN THE EAST

DEAR TRADITIONAL MOM: Your daughter is an adult, and if you refuse to have anything to do with this charade, I would understand. When guests are invited to a "wedding," gifts are expected. If it's a production that's only for show, the couple is committing fraud and taking advantage of the generosity of their guests.

When couples marry, they must first take out a marriage license, which BOTH must sign. No license, no marriage. Unless your daughter's boyfriend is completely clueless, she won't be able to slip this by him. Although people do have commitment ceremonies these days, guests should be told that is what they will be witnessing, and both partners should agree on it.

DEAR ABBY: I have been overweight for half of my life. After many diets, exercises, weight loss and eventually gaining it all back, I'm planning to have gastric sleeve surgery within the next two months, or when my surgeon can place me on his schedule.

I have gone through all of the required office visits with my doctor, but haven't yet made a final decision because I'm so nervous about it. I have not mentioned this to my adult children or my parents. My parents are elderly and probably would hate it and worry, so I don't want them to know. As for my children, they probably won't like it either.

The surgery will mean I'll lose 60 to 70 pounds. Should I say something or wait until it becomes obvious? I'm a private person, and I absolutely don't want any negative or snarky remarks from neighbors or my church family.

Am I being ridiculous, selfish or silly? If I don't tell, how will I explain how I lost the weight without spilling my secret? I may tell everyone later on, but not right now. -- GOT A SECRET IN THE SOUTH

DEAR GOT A SECRET: Wanting to be your best and healthiest self isn't ridiculous, selfish or silly. If you need surgical intervention to conquer your weight issues and your doctors agree, there is no reason to be defensive about it. Attempting to hide a 70-pound weight loss would be like trying to smuggle dawn past a rooster.

As you pointed out, your weight loss will become obvious. When you are asked about it, all you need to say is that now that your weight problem is in the past, you prefer not discussing it, so please don't bring it up again. You may encounter fewer raised eyebrows if, once your doctors allow it, you start doing some walking so you can be seen by others adopting a healthier lifestyle. If you do, people may assume it's the reason you are thinner.

DEAR ABBY: My father, although a well-meaning and caring man, often speaks before he thinks. The way he phrases things can come across as harsh, uncaring or rude. My husband is a sensitive person who was badly bullied in his youth, so he doesn't feel comfortable around my father and takes most things he says as insults. I have tried talking to both of them without success and even involved my stepmom.

My father and stepmom are coming for a visit, and I can't get it through my father's or my husband's heads that the only way for them to get on the same page is to talk. My husband can't understand why I see common ground between him and my father, and my father is too oblivious to realize the depth of the problem. The two most important men in my life cannot communicate. What can I do? -- IN THE MIDDLE IN FLORIDA

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Continue to encourage them to talk to each other, but if you're not successful, accept that your father is an insensitive loose cannon who won't change. Limit your parents' visits and keep them short. When you know they're scheduled to be in town, help your husband plan to be out of the house as often as possible. And, if that doesn't work, arrange to visit your parents alone rather than have them visit you. As much as you might want the two men in your life to get along, it just may not be possible.

P.S. If the bullying your husband experienced as a child has affected his other relationships as an adult, he should consider getting therapy. It might change his life for the better.

DEAR ABBY: My sister recently self-published a book that purportedly honors my mother's service in World War II. Her book is completely inaccurate. It is filled with romantic fantasy and historical errors, and cheapens my mother's real service with untruths.

My sister is now busy selling and promoting the book with interviews and book signings. My mother, if she were still alive, would be embarrassed and appalled. I don't want to cause a family feud, but I feel if I remain silent, I'm helping to perpetuate something that is wrong on multiple levels. What, if anything, should I do? -- READING A LOT INTO IT

DEAR READING: I am sure your late mother was an amazing woman whose story didn't need embroidering. It may be a blessing she isn't around to see what your sister has done to it. Because the book is now in print, it's too late to "stop the presses." If you try to discredit what was written, it will very likely cause a rift, and I don't recommend it. Wish your sister luck and cross your fingers that it won't become a bestseller.

DEAR ABBY: Our brother-in-law made a terrible mistake and is now serving time. My younger sister, "Tess," and I have visited him on a few occasions. We support him by listening and have told him that although he made a horrible mistake, he has to move forward.

Well, something happened that has put a damper on things. This brother-in-law sent Tess a letter, and in it he confessed to her that he had a dream, and she was in it. It wasn't a horrible letter, but I believe it was very inappropriate. He alluded to the fact that it was a sexual dream.

Tess has asked me if she should let our older sister, "Jane," know what her husband wrote. Jane has been through so much, so I told Tess it would not be a good idea to disclose it and add to her misery. Tess says it isn't fair to her to have to swallow this pill for the sake of not making waves. She feels Jane should know what kind of man her husband is. Abby, Jane knows exactly what kind of man she has. Part of what he did wrong was have a cyber affair.

Should Tess inform Jane that her husband has been inappropriate? She now refuses to visit our brother-in-law and has basically written him off. Please give me your opinion and advice. -- TORN UP OVER THIS IN TEXAS

DEAR TORN UP: Tess is right. It appears incarceration hasn't discouraged your brother-in-law from writing inappropriate material to inappropriate recipients. Tess should not be discouraged from informing Jane about what her husband has done and showing her the letter, if it is still in her possession. Jane has a right to know. Please respect that Tess needs to distance herself from this troubled individual and his fantasies, and don't encourage her to visit him again. In light of what's happened, I'm not sure you should either.

DEAR ABBY: I met a man online I thought was wonderful. OK, I'll be honest. I wanted a quick roll in the hay -- nothing serious. The guy turned out to be a college dropout, deeply spiritual and a great conversationalist, and we quickly started dating.

Fast-forward six months. I feel trapped in a loveless marriage. The sex is almost nonexistent. He has OCD, and because of it, he is afraid to leave the house, get a job, go to the doctor or be naked. What kind of man is afraid of being naked in PRIVATE? He is amply endowed, fit and very attractive.

I'm at my wits' end. He needs professional help, which he refuses to get. I know he has a mental illness, so I'm trying my hardest to be sympathetic and understanding, but what am I to do? -- NEEDING MORE IN LOUISIANA

DEAR NEEDING MORE: By being sympathetic and understanding, you are enabling your husband to resist getting the help he needs. Give him an ultimatum: He gets professional help for his OCD or the marriage is over. You have nothing to lose by doing this and everything to gain because, if he gets the help he needs, your problem will be solved. And if he doesn't, you will possibly avoid having a child with a man who will be unable to support it financially.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for six months. Our birthdays fall two days apart. His birthday is first, and we were invited to his parents' for dinner and cake. He received many gifts from his family.

For convenience, his brother gave us ONE card with $200 cash in it that was meant for both of us. (My husband always gives his sister-in-law a gift on her birthday.) My husband took the cash and put it in his pocket without acknowledging that half of it was meant for me.

A couple days later, my birthday came around. This time we went to dinner with my family. After dinner, my parents gave each of us a present. He went home with some new clothes and cologne. Do I have a right to be mad that his brother's gift to both of us went only to him? -- PLENTY MAD IN ILLINOIS

DEAR PLENTY MAD: Of course you do. That money should have been split 50-50. But you're complaining to the wrong person. You should be saying it to your husband. Because you have been married only six months, perhaps he isn't used to the concept of marriage being about the two of you. Straighten that out with him now.

P.S. Convenience or not, your brother-in-law should have given you separate gifts.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I received a worrisome email from our 20-something-year-old son, a graduate student some distance away. He wrote that he is recovering from wounds of his childhood. (We thought we were loving, supportive parents.) He indicated he will come home for visits only if we comply with his demands -- about 10 were listed -- and accused us of some things we never did.

On the advice of my counselor -- I have a history of depression, which is in remission -- I wrote agreeing to his demands in order to keep the lines of communication open. My husband refuses to do this. He is overwhelmingly hurt, angry and frustrated. He says he "will not walk on eggshells in his own home." Our son is our only child. What can or should we do? -- HEARTBROKEN IN OHIO

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Nobody should have to walk on eggshells. If ever I heard of a family that could benefit from family counseling, you three are it. Your doctor or insurance company can refer you to someone who is licensed and competent. Please don't wait.

DEAR ABBY: My husband loaned a "dear friend" some money a year ago. She has yet to pay back a penny. When I ask him about it, he gets mad and tells me it's none of my business. I have hinted to her about some large bills that we have to pay, to no avail.

Other than that, my husband and I have a great marriage and love each other very much. I just don't like her taking advantage of his generosity. I know taking care of his friends gives him pleasure, but he has been burned before and I can see it happening again. I find it hard to ignore. What do I do? -- SICK OF IT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR SICK OF IT: I wish you had mentioned whether you work and the money your soft-touch hubby gave his friend was partly earned by you. If that's the case, I don't blame you for being upset.

While I'm not sure you can prevent your husband from doing this, I do think you are within your rights to insist that before he does it he discuss it with you. If he will do that, perhaps the two of you can find an alternative for the person other than giving out money.

DEAR ABBY: My son passed away unexpectedly a little over eight years ago. He was 21. At the time, he had been dating a very nice young lady. We kept in touch for a while after the funeral -- letters and emails mostly, as I had moved out of state -- but things gradually tapered off.

I have been able to keep somewhat informed about her life because of the magic of social media and mutual friends she shared with my son who still contact me occasionally. I recently learned she's being married within the next two weeks. I am wondering if it would be wrong or weird of me to send a congratulatory card to the happy couple. I wish only continued happiness for her and her future husband. -- WISHING HAPPINESS

DEAR WISHING: I see nothing wrong or weird about sending her a nice card, and when you do, be sure to tell her not only that you wish her a happy future, but also that she will always have a special place in your heart.

DEAR ABBY: Would it be appropriate for someone to tell someone else's children to stop doing something dangerous if the parent is not around? I'm talking about kids holding scissors the wrong way or running with them, pushing others, etc.

My children are in their teens now and know that such behavior is wrong. If it were the other way around, I would be grateful if someone cared enough to tell my kids that a behavior is wrong and/or dangerous. -- GLAD IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR GLAD: How else would the children know if they weren't warned? To speak up would be an act of kindness, particularly if they were doing something that could cause harm to themselves or others.

DEAR ABBY: What is the etiquette when eating at a restaurant where a piano player is performing? I don't mean the "bar scene"-type piano player who wants the crowd to sing along, but more of a mid- to upscale type of place.

There's a restaurant like this in my town -- the only one with a piano. On one special occasion when we were there, the piano player was playing "Misty" and a woman sitting nearby with her party wanted to make herself heard over him. She began talking very loudly to her group while he was playing the song. I thought it was tacky, and if I had been sitting near her, I would have shushed her up.

Isn't it polite to wait until the piano player is finished before talking loudly at your table? Whatever happened to behaving with a little class in restaurants? -- DEANNA IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR DEANNA: The musician in that restaurant was there to provide mood music for the diners. If they chose to talk while he was playing, it was their privilege. The woman may have raised her voice because someone in her party had a hearing problem. For you to have taken it upon yourself to "shush her up" would have been rude, and for your sake, I'm glad you refrained from doing it.

DEAR ABBY: Am I overreacting to my husband's request that I take down photos of my mom and grandparents when his mom visits? They are displayed in our guest bedroom. I think his request was rude. I wonder if his mother even cares or if he just feels guilty. It's my house, too. -- RELUCTANT IN TEXAS

DEAR RELUCTANT: Rather than remove your family photos, why not compromise by adding a couple of pictures of your husband's mother, too? I'm sure she would be pleased to see them. Problem solved.

DEAR ABBY: I have a crush on a guy I work with. I'm 19, and he's 26. He has a kid, which actually doesn't bother me. I love kids and have taken care of them most of my life. My problem is he has this ex who wants to get back together with him. They broke up because she was staying out all night and cheating.

He used to flirt with me and text me all the time and offer me his hoodie. Now she's sort of back in the picture and he ignores me and doesn't return my texts. But when we see each other he starts flirting again, and we just click. We make sense.

I guess my question is, should I tell him how I feel before it's too late or just keep it to myself? Should I risk everything and go for it? -- UNCERTAIN IN NEW YORK

DEAR UNCERTAIN: Announce your feelings for the guy if you wish, but do not expect him to drop everything and rush to you. If he were interested in more than a workplace flirtation, he would be paying the same kind of attention to you that he did before. Because he isn't, you need to understand that he and his ex obviously have some unfinished business together, regardless of her history of infidelity. Set your sights on someone else.

DEAR ABBY: All my mom does is talk about work. If we are having a conversation, she links every topic to her work and her co-workers. It is alienating my sister and me. When we tell her things about our kids -- her grandkids -- she still relates it to work.

Another thing: She's constantly on her tablet for work or on Facebook. I live seven hours away from her. When we make the drive down, I don't want to watch her on her tablet. If we try to confront her on anything, all she does is cry.

Mom and I had a good relationship before she took that job. Now she's so negative that it's difficult to want to talk to her. Where do I even start? -- MISSING HER WHILE SHE'S HERE

DEAR MISSING: Rather than "confront" your mother, ask her what may have changed in her life since she took that job. Her focus may have shifted because that's the center of her activity. Conversations are two-way, and this may be all she feels she has to contribute on her end. As to her "hiding" behind Facebook rather than carry on a conversation with you, like many people, she may have become addicted to it and unable to tear herself away. However, you will never know unless you ask her calmly.

DEAR ABBY: I'm struggling because my stepson has chosen to get married on my birthday. I have been his stepmom for 18 years. It feels like a punch in the chest. My in-law family members are saying things like "OMG, how do you feel about that? I can't believe you're going to let that happen. It will no longer be YOUR special day."

My feelings are deeply hurt. My husband says it's no big deal and I shouldn't let it bother me. But every time someone asks me about it, I feel hurt, and when I'm finally by myself, I cry. I don't know what to do. I need someone's help. Is what my stepson is doing bad etiquette, a slap in the face or no big deal? -- BIRTHDAY GIRL IN ILLINOIS

DEAR BIRTHDAY GIRL: That your stepson would be married on your birthday isn't a slap in the face; it's a compliment. If you like his fiancee, consider her to be the ultimate birthday present. I'm surprised anyone would imply, as your in-laws have, that their anniversary would create any kind of conflict. Think of it this way: Your stepson and his new wife will never forget your birthday.

DEAR ABBY: As a single man, I have been on a few dating websites, and I'd like to say something to the women I have encountered: What is it about you that makes you worth my time to pursue? Many women show a lot of pictures, but reveal very little about themSELVES. Then some of them say in their last sentence that they "want more than 10 words to say hello." These women seem well-educated but unable to write more than a short paragraph about who they are.

Ladies, if you want more than a hi or hello, write something about yourselves beyond your likes and dislikes. Describe who you are, what your hopes and dreams are, and say something that I, as a man, would respond to in my introduction. If you did, it would help me to determine whether I should pursue you. -- IN THE DARK

DEAR IN THE DARK: You make a valid point. I'll be sure to reread your letter if I ever need to join a dating site, and so, I am sure, will my "sisters" out there. Thanks for the heads-up!

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law has had an incredible amount of cosmetic work done, particularly on her face. She is constantly looking for the next new thing to try to look younger -- "push this up, tighten that up, erase these marks," etc.

She is a pretty girl, and she thinks this is making her better-looking, but it's making her look worse. Should I let her know how I feel about what she's doing or leave it alone? -- AGING GRACEFULLY

DEAR AGING GRACEFULLY: What your sister-in-law does with her face and body is her business, just as what you are doing -- or not doing -- with yours is your choice. Much as you are tempted to tell her that her attempts to look better are futile, if you want a cordial relationship with her, keep your opinion to yourself.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married two years, but my husband and I have been together for more than 10. We have a 3-year-old daughter who has needed a few extra doctor appointments and therapy. My husband makes it to none of these extra appointments, some of which are crucial to her future. We both work full-time, but he works six days a week.

I have started to regard him differently because I'm doing everything for our daughter. Sometimes I feel like a single parent. I don't want my marriage to fail, but we aren't connecting anymore. I take off work or switch my hours around because I know that's what you do for your child. He never takes off work, yet he doesn't think twice about going golfing with his boss like it's no big deal. What do you think I should do? -- WISCONSIN MOMMY

DEAR MOMMY: Talk to your husband. You won't be able to achieve a more equal balance until you make your feelings known and discuss this with him.

I'm sorry you didn't mention what kind of job your husband has, because it's an important omission. He may be doing everything he can for you and his daughter. A six-day-a-week schedule doesn't offer much flexibility. And please don't judge him for playing golf with his boss. A lot of business is discussed on the links, and his presence may be more compulsory than you realize.

DEAR ABBY: My adult child recently passed away. Although he didn't live with me, I handled the arrangements and held the visitation in my home.

It has been only a few months, but I feel the need to get everything settled. But every time I sit down to write thank-you cards, I become so anxious I find it hard to breathe. Some family members have told me thank-you cards are not expected for bereavement. Can you tell me what the proper etiquette and time frame is in this matter? -- HAS TO SETTLE EVERYTHING

DEAR HAS: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your son. There are two ways to handle the task of thanking those who sent flowers, food or condolence letters. The first is to ask a friend or another family member to help you. The other is as simple as having cards printed that say, "The family of ____________ want to thank you for reaching out to us at this sad time," and signing your name. I hope this is helpful for you.

DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend with whom I often travel and attend events. She's a lovely person, but she has the odd habit of singing in public -- in gift shops, restaurants, or any public place where music is playing (and sometimes even when it's not). I can't have the radio on in the car without her singing along. She has an OK voice, but her style is a bit operatic. How can I gently tell her that her spontaneous performances are inappropriate and excessive? -- NOT KARAOKE IN THE EAST

DEAR NOT KARAOKE: I suspect your friend craves attention, which is why she does it. Pay her the compliment she's looking for by telling her how nice her voice is, but you would prefer she not sing when you're out in public together because you find it embarrassing.

DEAR ABBY: Years ago, my husband and I hosted a St. Patrick's Day party in our apartment for friends. There was a lot of drinking going on. I had to be at work early the next morning, so I went to bed while the party went on. I awoke a short while later to one of the men attempting to rape me. He stopped and attempted an apology by saying, "But you are just so pretty."

My husband and I graduated from high school with this person, and he is/was part of the same circle of friends. I have not told many people, but the few who do know have maintained a friendship with him, including my husband.

Because of the #MeToo campaign, all the emotions have come to a head for me now. I think about this assault daily. The worst thing for me is that even though he knows about it, my husband has chosen to remain friends with him for 35 years. How can I get past this? -- CAN'T FORGET IN VIRGINIA

DEAR CAN'T FORGET: I can only imagine how traumatic the assault was, and for that you have my sympathy. The friends you confided in may feel that because your attacker was drunk, what he did was somehow excusable. That your husband would be so forgiving is, frankly, shocking.

It may take the help of a licensed mental health professional to put this behind you, if that's possible. I sincerely hope you will reach out to a therapist who treats post-traumatic stress as well as victims of sexual assault, and include your husband in some of the sessions.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069

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