DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year. He's amazing, and I can see myself marrying him and having a family one day. There is only one problem. We are healthy in our arguments EXCEPT when his job is brought up. He's applying to go into the police academy.
I have always told people I would never be with a cop because of my own anxiety. We fight about this all the time, and while I don't ask him to find something else to do, it's kind of implied. I don't mean to be like that (or do I?) because I want him to be happy and do what he wants, but I also am terrified his job won't end well.
He asks why I am even dating him, and the honest truth is because he is an amazing man who truly does right by people. I love him. But do you think he is right? Is this something that can be overcome? -- JUST ONE THING IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR JUST ONE THING: It takes a particular kind of person -- a very strong one -- to marry a partner who is in the military or in law enforcement. The physical danger can create additional stress in relationships.
You cannot and should not dictate what your boyfriend's job should be. If he thinks he can find emotional satisfaction in police work -- provided he completes his training -- he should give it a try. If you don't think you can handle the stress of kissing him goodbye and being unsure that he will come home from work, then you are not the woman for him.
DEAR ABBY: My friend of 30 years had knee replacement surgery 15 years ago. She is fully recovered, goes to the gym three days each week and walks three miles on the treadmill. She still has (and gets renewed each doctor visit) her handicap parking card. Whenever we go anywhere and park, she always whips out her card and uses the handicap parking spots, even when there are multiple other spots available.
She's extremely religious, and I cannot understand how she doesn't realize this is morally wrong. I have spoken to her about it, but she still does it. I am not a perfect person either, but this really bothers me. What do you think? -- STYMIED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR STYMIED: I think your friend should be ashamed of herself for abusing the privilege. And I also think the doctor who is aiding and abetting her in this fraud is equally at fault.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 22 years. My husband is 60 and retired from the military. Ever since I have known him, he has always needed recognition and pats on the back, which I have tried to supply. However, over the past three years, it has become hard to put up with. He wants lots of applause for any accomplishments and posts daily announcements on Facebook, which have become an embarrassment. It's childish! I suspect his Facebook friends feel obligated to affirm how good their friend is. Should I mention that he needs to go lighter on his praise-fishing expeditions or remain quiet? -- EMBARRASSED IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR EMBARRASSED: For the time being, remain quiet. If your husband starts to notice that he's beginning to lose Facebook friends, suggest it to him then -- gently. And encourage him to diversify his activities so he spends less time on Facebook.
DEAR ABBY: I graduated from law school several years ago. I didn't pass the bar, and I now have a non-law-related job. I am fine with it, and I really do not aspire to be in the field of law. My parents didn't help me with law school tuition, nor am I saddled with debt.
My problem is, some family members -- and a few acquaintances -- seem to think me almost a novelty. I get comments such as, "Hey, how's that degree working for you?" and "Are you ever going to use your degree?" and "Do you regret going to law school?" I find it really annoying. How can I put a stop to it? -- NOT A LAWYER AND FINE
DEAR NOT A LAWYER: Tell these "curious" individuals that you do not regret going to law school because knowledge of the law is valuable when it's applied to other fields. As to how that degree is working for you, tell the questioner it's working so well you are now considering going for a degree in astrophysics.
DEAR ABBY: I am in a loving relationship with a kind and caring man, "Byron." He has a preteen son, "Eli," from a previous relationship. Eli stays with us several days a week, and I watch him while Byron goes to work. Byron and I would like to spend the rest of our lives together, but I'm uncertain if I can truly be a stepmother to his son.
Eli often yells at and hits his dad. He calls his dad stupid, among other things. He asks for expensive items during every visit, often refuses to bathe and won't eat anything other than fast food or pizza. If Byron has to say no to Eli because he doesn't have the money for something, Eli throws a temper tantrum worse than a 2-year-old.
I know the kid is capable of better behavior because he doesn't behave this way with his mother or grandmother. Byron doesn't discipline his son at all, which allows his rude and disrespectful behavior to continue. I worry about the boy's future. How will he hold a job if he acts this way toward a boss?
I like Eli very much. When he's in a good mood, he's the kindest child I can think of. But when his mood turns, it's like the dark side takes over. I love Byron. I would like to marry him. But I don't know if I can handle watching Eli be so disrespectful to his father. Sometimes it makes me feel like ending things. Please advise me on what to do. -- HESITANT "STEPMOM"
DEAR "STEPMOM": I hope you realize that Eli behaves the way he does because his father allows it. Byron may do this because he feels guilty about the divorce and is afraid his son will "hate" him if he asserts himself. Your gentleman friend really needs to take some parenting classes because his failure to act isn't good for Eli. Please suggest it.
DEAR ABBY: I'm surprised by how many people choose not to use headphones while talking on the phone, listening to music or watching videos in public places. Instead, they use the speaker option or their Bluetooth speakers for all to hear.
I travel frequently. It's bad enough to suffer through one side of the conversation, but hearing both is worse (and these folks talk at top volume and make no attempt to step out of earshot). Lately, I have also noticed people watching videos in restaurants.
At my apartment's pool, several neighbors do the same thing. Sometimes the music includes offensive language, which I find inappropriate at a family pool. I'm tempted to start competing with them with random videos and music, but I know that's wrong. Is there a reasonable way to handle these folks? -- BLASTED OUT IN ARIZONA
DEAR BLASTED: If you are in a restaurant, ask the manager to move you to a quieter table. If you are bothered at your apartment swimming pool, take your complaint to the manager of the complex so a sign can be posted asking tenants to keep the volume low on their devices or wear headphones. It's worth a try. Do not make the mistake of confronting them yourself.
P.S. Consider putting on headphones and listening to something of your choosing. It will drown out what you don't want to hear.
DEAR ABBY: I am planning a trip to visit my friend in England. I studied abroad two years ago, and I'm excited to go back to my old stomping grounds and reminisce.
I got very close to this friend while I was there, and we talk on Facebook every so often. Obviously, because of the distance, we aren't best friends, but we still consider ourselves "trans-Atlantic sisters."
I'm on a pretty tight budget and want to start planning for expenses. Would it be rude to ask her if I can stay with her? Or should I just ask for suggestions on places to stay and see if she offers? -- TRAVELER IN TEXAS
DEAR TRAVELER: While it wouldn't be rude to ask, I vote for the latter option and see if she suggests it. (She probably will.)
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."
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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.
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