Dear Abby

Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: Our son "Greg" has come out as gay. My husband can't accept it and refuses to meet Greg's boyfriend. Our other son is getting married (to a girl), and Greg will be bringing his boyfriend. My husband says he won't come to the wedding because our son's boyfriend will be there. He says it would "make a mockery" of the wedding. He has not told them yet.

I have tried everything I can to convince my husband to come. I told him this will destroy our family and marriage. He said he doesn't care! I told him this has nothing to do with the wedding. He will embarrass both sides of the family. He finally admitted he just doesn't want to see Greg's boyfriend. I told him he doesn't have to talk to him, but no argument works. I know our children will never speak to him again. I cannot stay married to him if he does this. I have no idea what to do. -- SUPPORTIVE MOM IN NEW YORK

DEAR MOM: Tell your husband, as calmly as possible, that the wedding isn't the only milestone in his sons' lives he will miss unless he has an attitude adjustment. Skipping the wedding will be just the beginning of his isolation because he will be absent from other important family milestones -- celebrations, christenings, birthdays, sporting events, recitals and graduations. If that doesn't wake him up, nothing will. However, if he still cannot relent, whether you should end your marriage isn't something you should decide on impulse or out of anger. A licensed marriage and family therapist should be consulted.

DEAR ABBY: My sister, who is estranged from our siblings, has been diagnosed with cancer. The more-than-three-year estrangement wasn't her choice, and she was devastated by it. She has requested that they be kept ignorant about her medical condition. We are all (six of us) in our 60s, and I don't know how much time any of us has left. I would hate for my siblings to regret not having time with her, or to disown me for keeping this secret. Do I betray her trust and tell them? -- SIBLING DILEMMA IN NEVADA

DEAR SIBLING DILEMMA: Do not betray your sister's trust and reveal her diagnosis to the siblings who ostracized her. The news is hers and hers alone to convey. You are assuming they would rush to her side to support her, which isn't necessarily true. This could be detrimental to her recovery, so do not risk it.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter expects that her children always receive a "gift" from their four grandparents on Valentine's Day. My wife and I are OK with this, yet WE receive no cards, gifts or phone calls from the grandchildren or our children. Are we old-fashioned, or is my daughter's expectation inappropriate? -- OLD-FASHIONED

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: Your daughter's expectations are inappropriate. They are also nervy. Your daughter should be teaching her children that exchanging holiday greetings is a reciprocal endeavor. If your daughter doesn't want to buy Valentine cards for her children to give to you, the kids should MAKE them for Grandma and Grandpa. (They would make precious keepsakes, framed individually or as a collage.)

DEAR ABBY: I've always been sensitive, but it has gotten worse since I became a mom a year ago. I dread watching or reading the news for fear of seeing a child, parent or animal has been hurt or mistreated. I'm a religious person, and I find myself asking God why bad things happen.

I know the tragic stories tend to make the headlines, but how would you suggest I learn to still see the good in the world? I can't quit seeing the news. We are inundated. I just wish the negativity of the world didn't get to me like it does. Advice, Abby? -- SUPER SENSITIVE IN KENTUCKY

DEAR SUPER SENSITIVE: That you have recently become a mother and are responsible for a helpless little person may have something to do with your feelings. But please don't judge the whole world or the people in it by the horror stories featured in the headlines, because they are misleading. Many people do positive things to help their neighbors and their communities that don't make the news. Consequently, we hear less about them.

I combat feelings like those you are experiencing by taking a "vacation" from reading or watching the news for a few days or a week when I think it is affecting me emotionally. I suggest you try it. Also, while your schedule as a new mother may be a busy one, if you can make the time, consider volunteering at your local library or a senior citizens' center. If you do, it may help you feel less helpless, knowing you are not only doing something positive but also making a significant difference in someone else's life.

DEAR ABBY: I have been retired for a little more than a year, and I enjoy it, except for one problem. My husband seems to think that since I'm home, I should be constantly busy -- cleaning, cooking, doing SOMETHING. He accuses me of being lazy. I think he may be jealous that I don't work anymore. What do you think? -- RETIREE IN GEORGIA

DEAR RETIREE: I think you may have hit the nail on the head. Things might improve if you tell him less often how much you're enjoying it.

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: I'm a freshman in high school, and it's great. I've made a lot of new friends, but most of them are guys. For some reason, they think I'm this girly-girl type who doesn't like to get my hands dirty. When it's time to do something that involves lifting, they think they have to take over. If they ever saw me at home, they'd think I was a whole different person. How can I show to them I'm not a girly-girl while still being friends with them? -- NO GIRLY-GIRL

DEAR NO GIRLY-GIRL: Here's how. The next time one of them says, "Let me do it for you," all you have to say is, "No, thank you." Then do the heavy lifting yourself. Word gets around.

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: 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: 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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