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TO MY READERS: Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sundown. During this 24-hour period, Jewish people fast, engage in reflection and prayer, and formally repent for any sin that might have been committed during the previous Hebrew year. To all of you who observe -- may your fast be an easy, but meaningful, one.

DEAR ABBY: My father died three years ago. My parents were both close to his younger brother and his wife. For the past two years, I have suspected that my mother and my uncle have been having an affair. They live in different states and text back and forth. She has left her phone open when she has gone places with us, and the comments back and forth are very sexually oriented.

I became suspicious when my uncle came to visit and they took a trip together and ended up staying overnight somewhere. A couple of months later, my aunt and uncle came to visit, and Mom asked me NOT to say anything about the trip they had taken in front of his wife.

Then Mom started locking her phone, and if she wants to show you something, she holds onto her phone for dear life. She asked me to look on her phone for something recently while she was driving us someplace and she was so worried about her phone, I was afraid she was going to cause an accident because she was trying to watch what I was doing.

The last time my aunt and uncle were here, Mom tried everything she could to get my uncle alone. I tried as hard as I could to not let that happen. I feel my aunt needs to know what is going on. I'm not sure how to approach this or if I should leave it alone. It really bothers me they think this is OK. My father had an affair once, so Mom should know how this would hurt. What should I do? -- WITNESS IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WITNESS: What you should do is take a giant step back. Do not involve yourself in this potential mess and do not be the bearer of bad tidings to your aunt. If you are going to talk to anyone, talk to your mother.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married to my husband, "Clyde," for 14 years, and we have a 12-year-old son. Clyde is the nicest man I have ever met, nice to a point that drives me insane. He invites complete strangers over to our house and acts like it's normal.

Last week, he brought a homeless 20-something-year-old woman with him when he came home from work. Without my consent, he let her stay over for FOUR DAYS, until I forced her to leave. I couldn't stand having to cook for and house a woman whose name I didn't even know! After she left, Clyde got mad and said my actions were "rude" and "disrespectful." I think it is unsafe for strangers to be allowed in our home, especially with our son around.

Abby, I don't know what to do. If I can't find a way to stop my husband's recklessness, I may have to end our marriage. Please help. -- OVERWHELMED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR OVERWHELMED: In most marriages, spouses have enough consideration for each other that they ask first before inviting someone -- particularly someone their spouse doesn't know -- into their home. Your "nice" husband seems to have forgotten this.

Your concerns are valid. Because you can't seem to get through to him that what he is doing is risky, insist on some sessions with a licensed marriage and family therapist. Perhaps that person can get through to him. He may think what he's doing is admirable, but there are other ways to help homeless individuals.

DEAR ABBY: My father was killed recently in a shooting. I have received text messages and phone calls from my immediate family and close friends. My mother-in-law was thoughtful enough to send me a card, and I called to thank her the day I received it.

My husband has other close relatives. None of them called me, not even my sister-in-law. They have my number, so that's not the issue. Is this the norm in the United States? I ask because I come from a different background, and I find this disheartening. -- GRIEVING IN NEVADA

DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my deepest sympathy for the tragedy that took your father. When something so out of the ordinary happens, many people don't know what to say. While something as simple as, "I'm so sorry," or, "You are in my prayers, and my thoughts are with you," would suffice, they are so fearful they will say the wrong thing that they say nothing. Your husband's family may fall into this category. Please try to forgive them.

DEAR ABBY: I am single, retired and have no children. I do have some health issues. My sisters have begun to hound me about getting rid of things so they won't have to do it in the event that I die. My entire estate, which is close to $1 million, will go to them and their children.

It is exhausting for me to pack things and move boxes, and they are no help. I'd like to enjoy the time I have left and not have to listen to their complaints. What should I do? -- FED UP AND TIRED

DEAR FED UP: Tell your sisters you would like to die (when the time comes) surrounded by the mementos that have brought you pleasure throughout the years, and you do not plan to get rid of anything! Then suggest that when you are gone, they will have more than enough money to pay someone to cart away anything they don't wish to keep. With a "close to $1 million" windfall in their pockets, the expense should not be onerous.

DEAR ABBY: Would you think a husband is in love with his wife if he never talks to her, touches her or shows any interest in her? The worst kind of loneliness is the kind in marriage.

What should a wife do if she feels her husband no longer cares for her? We have been married five years, and I think about the seven-year itch. The first two years were difficult, and things haven't gotten better. Would counseling help? I'm ready to leave. -- CONFUSED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONFUSED: I am not sure who is itching, you or your husband. Because there is so much unhappiness in your marriage, talk to your husband about it. Ask him why he has withdrawn from you, and whether he would be interested in working things out with the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist. If he is not willing, then realize it's time to leave because the atmosphere you have described is toxic for you, and it isn't a marriage.

DEAR ABBY: Our college-age daughter has been withdrawn and depressed for some time. During a recent visit, after asking her several times what was wrong, encouraging her to continue counseling and expressing general concern for her, I finally asked her (again) if she was gay. She broke down and said she was.

She seems conflicted by it, relieved we didn't disown her (she has friends whose parents dropped them), but she still seems very distant. I thought once the burden of coming out was off her shoulders she would be happier, but she barely spoke to us the last day she was here. We both told her we love her, hugged her and, although shocked by her revelation, we are trying to come to terms with her being gay.

We are not perfect but feel we are doing all we can. She still seems depressed and withdrawn. What can we do to help her? I am more upset about her shutting us out than her being gay. I have been in tears thinking our daughter dropped us and doesn't want us around. She doesn't want the rest of the family to know yet. This is confusing for us, too. Help! -- HURTING FOR OUR DAUGHTER

DEAR HURTING: Because someone comes out to a parent does not mean that all the person's problems magically disappear. Your daughter may suffer from chronic depression that has nothing to do with her sexual orientation. That you have encouraged her to continue with counseling is appropriate. Badgering her to come out to you may have been less so.

Your daughter will have to find her own way in the journey to explore and accept who she is. Please allow her the space to do that without obsessing over the thought that she has "dropped" you. And do NOT inform the family about what she told you! Respect her privacy. She should have the right to disclose the information in her own time if she chooses.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter has been married just over a year and has recently been blessed with a beautiful baby girl. They also share full custody of her husband's 6-year-old daughter.

Both work full time. I'm retired and have offered my help for day care and transportation to school for the older child on certain days. My son-in-law's mother has agreed to take the other two days that are needed for care. She doesn't work either, and cares for another son's child.

The issue is, she charges for the care she gives her grandchildren. I'm not comfortable with this arrangement. Am I wrong to be angry and insist that I assume full-time responsibility for the care of my grandchildren? My daughter doesn't want to burden me. I'm fully committed to shouldering these responsibilities and would love every minute of it. However, I have serious concerns that the mother-in-law will resent me and my daughter if I demand to take on full-time care. -- FREE-OF-CHARGE GRANDMA

DEAR FREE-OF-CHARGE GRANDMA: If the other grandma needs the money she is being given for child care, you're darn tootin' she's going to resent you for undercutting her. Make your proposal to your daughter, but the final decision about child care rests with her and her husband.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for five years and together with my husband for 15. I love him, and I try to look attractive for him.

I recently got a shorter haircut that I thought looks nice. When my husband saw it, his reaction was, "It doesn't look bad," and, "If you like it, that's all that matters." I can't help but feel slighted and a little hurt. Am I being too sensitive? -- HURT IN WASHINGTON

DEAR HURT: Maybe. Your husband is entitled to his reaction, and he was honest with you. Would you have preferred that he lie? If you like the new hairstyle, keep it. If you are having second thoughts, remember it's not an arm or a leg; it's only hair, and it will grow.

DEAR ABBY: I am a female in my mid-20s. My whole life I have been in a constant state of exhaustion. When I was in school, I'd try so hard not to fall asleep in class. (I actually enjoyed school and got good grades.) But when I got home, I'd have to take a nap before doing my homework or chores because otherwise I would fall asleep in the middle of it.

Fast-forward to now: I am a working adult. I'm going back to college, and I have been recently diagnosed with hypersomnia/borderline narcolepsy. I'm on stimulants to help me through the day, but they don't always work. Some days I struggle to find the motivation to do the simplest tasks because my body just wants to rest.

Do you know of any support groups for this condition so I can talk with others who deal with this, too? No one I know seems to understand, and I'm often regarded as lazy. Please help! -- SLEEPY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR SLEEPY: There are misperceptions about narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder that affects 1 in 2,000 individuals in the United States. Fortunately, there is an organization you might find helpful. It's the Narcolepsy Network, which is based in your state. It provides support and education for persons with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, their families and others. It also helps with coping skills, family and community problems. There are support groups in many states as well as online support. To learn more, go to narcolepsynetwork.org or call toll-free 888-292-6522.

DEAR ABBY: I am 64 and have been reading your advice my entire life. Now I need some for myself.

At the end of my mother's funeral, my sister was very upset that I had not set aside some flowers for her that had been sent by her friend. My sister did not plan or pay for any part of the funeral. After the service ended, I told the attendees to take what they wanted to relatives who had asked for them. My sister became so upset she even searched their vehicles to find the plants her friend had sent.

Mom received a lot of flowers that day. I allowed the grieving people to have them because I felt the flowers had been sent to her. How should I address this with my sister, who has told everyone who will listen that I failed to follow funeral plant protocol, which is why she acted out the way she did. -- PERPLEXED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR PERPLEXED: People who are grieving are often not their best selves, and you and your sister are no exception. While the disposition of the floral tributes can vary from family to family, no rule of etiquette dictates what "must" be done. Some suggestions include leaving the flowers on the grave, offering them to family members and close friends, and donating them after first removing anything that identifies them as having been used in a funeral. Because you didn't offer the arrangements to your sister, apologize to her for the oversight.

DEAR ABBY: My husband wants to go to a residential mental health facility for a year-long program to deal with his depression and suicidal thoughts (due to a traumatic childhood). I'm all for it, but I don't know how to cover for him. He's very private and doesn't want people to know. So how do I explain a year-long absence? -- SUPPORTIVE IN FLORIDA

DEAR SUPPORTIVE: An easy way of explaining it would be to say your husband decided to take a year-long "sabbatical," which requires him to be out of the area. Period.

DEAR ABBY: My family is surrounded by neighbors who are all friendly. We have cookouts together regularly. Everyone contributes to the budget and food preparation except one neighbor. He's a single dad of 12-year-old twins, and they show up to every BBQ without bringing a dish or their own drinks, yet they all eat heartily. We have run out of food for the intended participants (who paid for the food) because of them. What's the best way to handle this situation without making an enemy of a neighbor? -- FED UP WITH FREELOADING

DEAR FED UP: Your neighbor may not be clear about the rules. It shouldn't earn you an enemy for life if you point out to this single dad of twins (with growing appetites) that these get-togethers are potluck, which means everyone is expected to contribute to the cost of the food as well as bring a side dish so the food won't run out. TELL him what to bring. They should also help with the setup and cleanup. If he's uncooperative after that, he's a moocher and you all will be well rid of him if he takes offense.

DEAR ABBY: My husband of 12 years and I have an ongoing disagreement about the language he uses when he texts women friends. He opens his text with "Hi, Beautiful" or, "Good Morning, Gorgeous." I consider this to be flirting, but he regards it as harmless even though he knows it hurts my feelings because he doesn't text that way to me.

I trust him and don't feel there's anything going on with any of these women, but I think he's playing with fire. The wrong woman may interpret it differently, and that's how affairs start. Do you think I am overreacting? -- MISUNDERSTOOD IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR MISUNDERSTOOD: Yes. Your problem with your husband isn't that he's calling other women beautiful and gorgeous. It's that he ISN'T complimenting you, and I think you should point that out to him. Shame on him!

DEAR ABBY: I'm a man in my mid-70s, and I'm beginning to understand why some old people are annoying cranks. It has something to do with the nearly constant physical, emotional and spiritual pain. (And if you're not sleeping well as a result, that only makes things worse.)

My body is breaking down, and something hurts all the time. My wife died some years ago, other loved ones are gone as well, and my grief is an unending process. I know my remaining time here is limited, and I'm not sure I want to depart the only life I've known for an uncertain future.

I have started alienating friends and others by the things I say, and I didn't used to be this way. There's no excuse for this, of course, but what I'm saying is, there are REASONS. And yet, some people age gracefully. My question is, how do they do it? -- ALAN IN FLORIDA

DEAR ALAN: It is extremely important that you speak to your doctor about everything you are experiencing. Your unending grief might be lessened if you discuss it with a licensed mental health provider.

It's true that not everyone ages physically at the same rate. Some individuals start preparing in their 40s and 50s for the later stages of life by eating healthier and exercising. The saying "use it or lose it" has a lot of truth to it. Muscles that don't move tend to freeze up and cause pain.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to stay busy, active and focus on others, and volunteers are needed in every community. Please consider what I have written, and let me know how you are doing in six months. I care.

DEAR ABBY: I met and married my husband 20 years ago. Twelve years ago, we had a child. Since then, I have felt like a single parent.

I think things were always this way, but I didn't notice as much until we had a child. My husband has a good heart, and I know he loves us, but he rarely spends time with us. He works long hours in retail and chooses to spend his off hours with others and without us. He loves people and is quite a social butterfly.

He can go days without speaking to us, and is content most nights with kissing our daughter goodnight after she has already gone to sleep. He makes plans and decisions on his own -- without me -- including about money matters.

Am I overreacting when I complain? I'm contemplating a divorce because I need more than a part-timer for a mate. -- LONELY MARRIED MOM

DEAR MOM: Overreacting? Frankly, I am surprised that it has taken you this long to write to me. The person you married appears to be totally detached and more of a roommate than a husband. That he goes for days without speaking to you and your child is emotional cruelty.

Spouses are supposed to socialize together -- at least most of the time -- and make financial decisions together. The only positive you've mentioned is that he's the family's bread-winner.

That you are contemplating divorce isn't surprising. Your husband left you behind emotionally more than a decade ago. Consult an attorney and familiarize yourself with as much financial information as possible before making any announcements.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter-in-law is the only member of our extended local family who drinks alcohol. I think she may be an alcoholic. At family events she becomes nasty when she drinks, but she thinks she's clever and amusing.

For the last 10 years I have kept my mouth shut and never mentioned it. Am I enabling? Should I say something to alert her to how she is coming across? Other family members feel the same as I do. -- NON-DRINKER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR NON-DRINKER: This woman is married to your son. How does HE feel about this? One of the warning signs of an alcohol problem is a personality change when the person has been drinking. Not only should you point out to your daughter-in-law that she has a problem, but the relatives who feel as you do should approach her with you. It is called an "intervention," and it should have happened years ago.

There are programs that can help your daughter-in-law -- AA is one of several -- but only if she recognizes she has a problem. Al-Anon is a resource for friends and family who are affected by a loved one's drinking. Find it at al-anon.org and attend some meetings. You will find them enlightening.

P.S. If you see her verbally abuse someone while she is drinking, don't stand quietly by. Say something.

DEAR ABBY: I recently had to put my 14-year-old dog to sleep. I adopted her when she was 2 and had her for 12 years. She had health issues, dementia, incontinence, and more importantly, she was no longer herself.

It was a very difficult decision, but the right one. I know this in my heart, but I am severely depressed. I can't stop reliving the image of her death. (I stayed with her during the procedure.) I am losing sleep and interest in everything. I have another pet at home (a cat), and I will soon have my dog's ashes back.

My kitty brings me a lot of joy, but my house seems so empty and quiet without my dog. I'm not ready to adopt another one, and not sure if I ever want to again. I have done volunteer work for a pet organization in the area, but I just cannot be around any other pets right now -- especially dogs. I have a hard time just walking down the pet aisle in the grocery store.

I know time is the best healer, but I can't seem to shake this. What would you suggest? -- GRIEVING FOR MY LOSS

DEAR GRIEVING: You loved your dog, and you have suffered an important loss. You would not be normal if you weren't grieving. Eventually the things that trigger you will become fewer, and when that happens, you will be ready to move forward. Have faith in that. If your sleeplessness and lack of interest in things that previously brought you happiness continue, however, you should discuss it with your doctor.

DEAR ABBY: My son's best friend's bike was stolen from our front yard, and I feel terrible about it. Up to this point, he had been careful to put it in our garage or by our front door when he came over.

It was new, and I want to offer to help pay for a new one if we don't find it. My husband disagrees. I know the child's parents don't expect it, but I feel it's the right thing to do. -- FEELING GUILTY IN TEXAS

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: While it would be generous to offer to help pay for the bike, you should not feel obligated or guilty because you did nothing wrong. One can only hope the boy has learned an important lesson from what happened. In the future, he will make sure his bike is safely parked inside your garage and not out where a thief can snatch it.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are 15 years apart in age. We have been together for six years, married a year and a half. He is my entire world, my best friend and soul mate.

When we first met, he told me he didn't think he wanted another child (he has a daughter). I learned to accept it if I wanted to be with him. I had to be OK with being a stepmom and not having a child of my own.

Fast-forward: It's six years later. His daughter (now 14) no longer comes around. (The ex-wife discouraged any relationship between my stepdaughter and me.) I'm finding it harder and harder to cope with the fact that I don't have a child of my own. When I bring this up to my husband, he tells me, "I told you in the beginning I didn't think I wanted another child."

How do I deal with this? It's breaking my heart because she is not around anymore and I don't feel like a mom of any sort. -- LONGING TO BE A MOM

DEAR LONGING: Tell your husband that in the beginning when he told you he didn't think he wanted another child, you agreed because you thought you could accept it, but that as time has gone by, you no longer can. Then tell him you feel an important part of being a woman is being a mother. If he refuses to relent, then as much as you may love him, you may be married to the wrong man, and you will have to move on if you need to follow your biological imperative.

DEAR ABBY: Can you please educate your readers about supermarket etiquette? Every time I buy groceries, I encounter people who push or park their carts in the middle of the aisle with no consideration for other shoppers. I also see them blindly blast through intersections in the aisles and barely avoid colliding with each other.

A few weeks ago, I said to a gentleman, "Pardon me, may I go around you? Thank you." He responded that I was the first person who had ever said that to him! I'm surprised there aren't more cases of road rage in supermarkets.

My suggestion: Why don't we follow basic traffic rules in the supermarket? For example, stay to the right unless you are passing. Yield at intersections to the shopper on the right, etc. Abby, what do you think? Also, what's your take on big kids riding in the grocery carts? -- DISGUSTED SHOPPER IN ILLINOIS

DEAR DISGUSTED: What you describe happens when folks fail to consider how their behavior affects others. When someone blocks the aisle with a grocery cart, the logical way to deal with it is to say, "Excuse me, please," which alerts the "offender" that there are others in the store besides him or her.

Your suggestion that shoppers observe basic traffic rules is a good one -- particularly when it involves observing the speed limit. Charging through the intersections of the aisles could cause an accident in which another shopper is harmed.

As to "big kids" riding in shopping carts, as long as they aren't bothering other shoppers and the store doesn't care, I mind my own business and don't judge.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Al," and I have been together for two years off and on. We dated casually for six months before we decided to be exclusive. Unbeknownst to him, I was also sleeping with someone else, "Brandon."

Al and I had a fight and broke up for a few months, and during that time I slept with another good friend of mine, "Marc." When Marc and I decided it wasn't serious and moved on, Al and I got back together.

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I didn't feel obligated to tell Al about it at the time, since "technically" I did nothing wrong. But as we became more and more serious, it occurred to me that it was a lie of omission, since we interact with both men on a social level. I told Al, and he isn't handling it well, so now I'm at a loss about what to do.

Honesty and time are key, I know, but he is distancing himself from me. Do I let him go? I am fighting hard right now, but I'm feeling beaten down at every turn. -- WRONG IN THE EAST

DEAR WRONG: Not all relationships last forever. It's possible that this one has run its course.

If you and Al had agreed you would both be abstinent after the separation, he has reason to be upset. If you had promised each other there would be an accounting of who each of you had been with and you didn't live up to it, I can see why he would be distancing. However, if an understanding wasn't in place, then you were free to be with others and you did nothing wrong.

If Al no longer wants to be with you -- for whatever reason -- you have no choice but to let him go. For your sake, quit allowing yourself to be beaten down and make it as painless for yourself as possible.

DEAR ABBY: Is it wrong to paint my 2 1/2-year-old boy's fingernails when he begs me to? I'm a stay-at-home mom and very close with my son. When I paint my nails (I paint them pink), my son sees me and insists I paint his toes and fingers "just like Mommy."

I see it as all in fun, but my mother-in-law makes snide comments about him being a boy and that boys shouldn't have their nails painted. My husband has also said I should stop.

I know my son will want me to paint his nails only a little while longer. It's not harming anyone, and I'm sick of all the gender barriers. Am I wrong here? -- PRETTY IN PINK

DEAR PRETTY: Your mother-in-law appears to think that polishing your 2-year-old's nails will "make" him effeminate. It's no more valid than her not doing it has "made" your husband masculine. Ignore the snide remarks because you are not going to change her.

Whether your little boy wants you to continue painting his nails pink -- or, for that matter, to wear something pink -- is far less important than making sure he knows you love and support him and it's OK to be HIMSELF. That's the way parents raise confident and successful children.

DEAR ABBY: What is your opinion about elderly parents who no longer drive having to pay their children to drive them to appointments, grocery, etc.? Think of all the times parents drove them when they were growing up. -- RETURNING THE FAVOR

DEAR RETURNING THE FAVOR: Most adult children with a memory would never dream of asking to be paid for driving their elderly parents. A child who would do this must be desperate for money. In my opinion, because they are paying for it anyway, the parents should make other arrangements for transportation.

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: Occasionally, married friends will come to my husband and/or me venting about their marital problems. We have been through a few rough patches during our 12 years of marriage, and during those times, we sought help from family, friends and counselors. Today I can honestly say we are happier than ever and willing to stick through the ups and downs.

We try to pass along the things that helped us, but a lot of times we'll see one spouse wanting to work on improving the marriage and the other one oblivious or unwilling to do anything about it. I think our experience could help the spouses of our troubled friends see that things can work out by doing something about it, but I never know if or how to approach the subject with them. Should we keep our mouths shut and just be there for the unhappy friend, or is there a proper way to reach out to their spouse with an offer of support in situations like this? -- TRULY WANTING TO HELP

DEAR TRULY WANTING: My advice would be to stay out of the line of fire. If you reach out to the unhappy spouse, who may be unaware that his or her marital problems were revealed to you, it will be regarded as intrusive. By all means tell the person asking your advice what worked for you, but leave it up to that person to convey it to his or her spouse.

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 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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