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Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: My husband, who is 81 and in excellent health, has just suggested that when we feel we can no longer live independent lives (I am 72), we should move closer to his daughter in another state so she and her husband can help us.

Abby, I don't LIKE her husband, and I don't want to be reliant on him, beholden to him or even socialize with him. In the 15 years I have known him, we have never had a conversation. In the beginning, I tried, but he cannot relate to older women. Apparently, he didn't have a good relationship with his mother. His only topics of conversation are his dogs, guns or sports. I have no interest in any of those things.

It breaks my heart that my husband and I may not be spending the last years of our lives together. I'm sure my husband would tell me to "get over" my dislike of his daughter's husband. Do I have to agree to be around someone I have nothing in common with? I don't like the part of the country they live in either. -- NERVOUS IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR NERVOUS: My late mother once told me that parents who count on their adult children "taking care of them" in their old age are often in for a rude awakening. You and your husband are supposed to be equal partners in this marriage. If you dislike not only the man his daughter is married to but also the area of the country in which they live, no law says you are obligated to relocate. I recommend you have that difficult discussion with your spouse soon, preferably in the office of a licensed marriage and family therapist.

DEAR ABBY: I have been in an on-and-off relationship with a woman for three years. We live about two hours apart. In the beginning, our relationship was wonderful. We would see each other on a regular basis and would text and video chat almost daily. We even talked about marriage.

But as time went on, she became more and more distant. She would either take forever to respond back to me or not respond at all. Her excuse was work. She was always working and always had something going on. I then found out she was dealing with a couple of personal things. When I explained to her that relationships are all about communication, she kind of disagreed.

At one point, I was so upset, angry and frustrated that I said some horrible things to her. I even used foul language because of her not communicating. Also, she didn't even bother to take two minutes out of her time to wish me a happy birthday. I always remember her on her birthday.

She is making me out to be the bad guy. I'm so hurt and angry at her because of her refusal to communicate. Abby, what else can I do? Am I really the bad person here? -- UNCERTAIN IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNCERTAIN: Although you refuse to recognize it, this woman HAS been communicating with you. Her behavior indicates that she is nowhere as interested in you as you are in her, which should have become apparent as she became more and more distant.

You are not a bad person, and neither is she. She's just afraid to give you the bad news verbally. In cases like this, there is nothing you can do besides tell her it's apparent she isn't as invested in the relationship as you are and make a graceful exit.

DEAR ABBY: I am becoming more and more irritated with people. My fuse is short and I'm prone to bursts of anger. Today I watched another driver run a red light, and I proceeded to honk my horn, lower my window and give the guy my middle finger. (Yeah, I know it was risky, but I couldn't resist the impulse.)

I am sick of people! They are, in my opinion, self-centered, inconsiderate jerks who need to be smacked. Stupid questions also set me off. I have been snapping at my wife and kids, which is not something I intend. What can I do to get a grip on my temper and not act out the way I have been doing? Is something wrong with me? -- REALLY A NICE GUY IN MICHIGAN

DEAR NICE GUY: Anger is a normal emotion. Everyone experiences it from time to time. But lowering one's car window, playing the horn like a musical instrument and giving other drivers the finger is not only unwise, but dangerous. These days it could get you killed. For the record, a bad mood is not a valid excuse for taking it out on someone you think has asked a stupid question. If a query is sincere, no question is "stupid."

Your loss of self-control -- if recent -- could be related to frustration or misdirected anger at something out of your control. Does experiencing these feelings mean there is something "wrong" with you? Not necessarily, as long as you find ways to manage your emotions before exploding. We are all human. We all make mistakes.

It takes self-control and maturity to react calmly instead of striking out in anger. Recognizing what is causing these negative emotions can go a long way to help you avoid taking them out on others. I sometimes wonder whether anger management should be added to school curriculums to help the next generation learn to communicate in a healthy manner, rather than simply reacting.

DEAR ABBY: My dear friend "Francine" loves male attention and flirts with men, married or unmarried, at parties and on other occasions. I don't think flirting with married men is proper because it sends the wrong message. I also don't think their wives appreciate her behavior. Am I off base? I would appreciate your input. -- OLD-FASHIONED IN ARIZONA

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Your dear friend may do this not because she's trying to break up a marriage, but because she needs validation and wants to reassure herself that she is attractive. If the wives find her behavior a threat, they can tell her that themselves, or exclude her from their gatherings.

P.S. Is it "proper"? No. Does it happen? Quite often.

DEAR ABBY: My brother divorced his first wife 10 years ago. Since then, he has married a wonderful woman my family adores. The problem is, my ex-sister-in-law insists on showing up for family events, which makes these celebrations extremely awkward. Even her children recognize how uncomfortable her presence makes everyone.

I don't mind being the "bad guy" and telling her that she's no longer welcome at family events, but I don't want to cause an ugly scene. How can I diplomatically (but firmly) tell her to stay away? Any suggestions would be appreciated. -- FLUMMOXED IN PHILADELPHIA

DEAR FLUMMOXED: What a sad situation. Your BROTHER, not you, should deliver the message to his ex, well before she shows up at your next family event. He should inform her that when she shows up uninvited, her presence makes everyone uncomfortable, and it would be best that she not impose again. You could lessen the hurt by occasionally seeing her separately, depending upon the circumstances of the divorce.

DEAR ABBY: For the past three years I've been with a man I believe is the love of my life. Early on, he admitted to a porn addiction that has plagued him his entire life and sabotaged past relationships. With my support, he began his first real attempt at recovery, which included a team of mental health practitioners.

His progress over the past three years, while not linear, has been tremendous. He's an entirely different person. I would describe our relationship as 90% joyful, 10% agony (he has had four brief relapses, during which he has said incredibly hurtful things to me). I agree the cycle must be broken, and only he can do it.

A week ago, he had a difficult relapse and ended our relationship. His therapist feels he needs to be on his own to focus on recovery. While I am devastated, I agree. But I can't understand why he's giving up on us forever and making big decisions like getting off the mortgage on the house we bought less than two years ago. He swears it has nothing to do with me, and that if it weren't for this addiction, he would spend the rest of his life with me.

If his plan is to live alone, be single or celibate, and focus on recovery, why wouldn't he also pause on major financial decisions? Why is he so completely done when there is clearly hope for recovery and reconciliation? -- BROKEN-HEARTED IN OREGON

DEAR BROKEN-HEARTED: You have involved yourself with someone who has a terrible track record when it comes to relationships. Whatever his plans for the future may be, he does not want a committed relationship with you, nor does he want the financial responsibility and the tie to you that the house represents, which is why he wants off the mortgage. It is now time for you to start looking after your own needs and goals. If you stay busy and don't isolate yourself, it will lessen the pain you are feeling.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 38-year-old woman who used to be nice. Then I had a three-year affair. Knowing I'm one of America's bigger fools -- and for such a long time -- is infuriating, but I finally saw the light. The only person I think is a bigger fool than me is his wife.

Some "highlights" of our romance: He gave me an STD during spring break, I found "Ally's" phone number in his contact file, and I saw a blonde in a white convertible drop him off in front of his house at 9:15 in the morning, which, according to him, "never happened." My eyes don't lie. After I was struck by a car in a crosswalk, he never once called me to see how I was. After that, his teenage son followed me around town flipping me off and shouting obscenities at me. There's more, but I'll spare you.

Please warn your readers to stay away from affairs. They demean you, your mate will lose trust in you, and the person you're having the affair with -- can that person ever really be trusted? Won't he cheat on you, too? This "wonderful" man is an elementary school teacher. (Think about what he is teaching your kids, folks!)

Like I said, I used to be nice. I used to care and trust. No more! This man changed not only my entire life but also my family's. Will I ever forgive MYSELF?

P.S. I have spent thousands of dollars for counseling. It's a lot of money, but I am worth it. -- FINALLY SAW THE LIGHT

DEAR FINALLY: Love may be blind, but I'm pleased you finally saw the light. I'm also pleased that you realized you needed professional help to regain some self-esteem. Your bitterness jumps off the pages of your letter. If you work on that with your counselor, too, it will be money well spent.

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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