DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for 20 years. I have never cheated on him or given him any reason to believe I have. But he is constantly on my Facebook account. He also reads all my emails and text messages.
I have nothing to hide, but I feel foolish standing by him as he reads my messages. I feel like a student in a principal's office waiting to be reprimanded for something I did wrong or said.
If he doesn't read my personal messages when I am up, he waits for me to go to sleep and reads everything. I have not answered messages that friends have sent me because he reads them, deletes them and then doesn't tell me I got a message.
He gets mad at me if I tell him I don't want him looking through my messages because he says I must be hiding something. I have changed passwords only for him to demand that I give them to him. His actions are making me extremely stressed. Is this normal behavior? -- STRESSED SOMEWHERE IN THE USA
DEAR STRESSED: NO, IT IS NOT NORMAL, and it's no wonder that you are extremely stressed. Your husband's behavior is extremely controlling, and it is a reflection of the extent of his insecurity.
Your situation is unhealthy, to put it mildly. Has this sort of thing been going on for the last 20 years? If not, it could be a precursor to domestic violence. For your own sake, talk to someone at the National Domestic Violence Hotline about what is going on. Its toll-free number is 800-799-7233. The website is thehotline.org.
DEAR ABBY: I just started my first full-time job, and my boss is amazing but a bit overprotective. Last week, our marketing director, "Amy," reached out and asked me to organize an envelope-stuffing for invitations to an event my department is hosting. This event was not organized by my department. It was being handled by the marketing and membership teams.
My boss thought it was unreasonable for me to have to do that. I didn't mind, nor did I complain, but my boss was upset and confronted Amy about it. Amy apologized and helped me send out the invites, but since then she has been cool to me. It feels like others in the office have also withdrawn somewhat (although I suppose I could just be imagining this).
I really wish my boss hadn't said anything. On one hand, I appreciate her standing up for me, but I don't want my co-workers to think I'm lazy or a complainer, especially because I'm new here and at the bottom of the totem pole in the office. Should I just let it blow over? Should I say something? Any advice would be welcome. -- NOT A COMPLAINER
DEAR NOT A COMPLAINER: Your boss may have stepped in because there were tasks she wanted you to spend your time doing that are more important to her than stuffing envelopes. Tell Amy privately that you were glad to help with the invitations, and you never complained to anyone about having been asked to do it. It may clear the air. Then have a talk with your boss about chain-of-command rules, including whether you must get an OK from her before helping out other departments.
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law has a key to my house. I didn't give it to her. We left a key under the mat one day so she could get in to pick up something because I wasn't going to be home when she arrived. I asked my husband to get the key back, but he is uncomfortable asking.
She and my father-in-law have been in our house twice more in our absence. We were out of town, and we were shocked to hear they had entered our home without asking. It was almost sneaky the way they did it, and when I talked to my husband about it, he was upset as well and took his anger out on me. It ruined our day traveling. We didn't speak the entire two-hour trip back home.
I asked my mother-in-law via text to please let us know when she was entering the house due to privacy and that I was not trying to hurt her feelings. She's now upset with me and says she doesn't know when she will visit us again. I am tired of being the second fiddle to her. Am I overreacting? It seems I can't win with this! -- KEYED UP IN ALABAMA
DEAR KEYED UP: This is not a matter of playing second fiddle or any other instrument. Your husband should ask his mother for the key back. By doing this now, it will establish your independence. If he can't find the courage to insist upon the privacy you both deserve, change the locks.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a middle-aged woman who has survived a 30-year toxic relationship with a covert narcissist. I am now blessed to be able to divorce him and get therapy for his emotional abuse. I have six amazing grown children. I'm also a sophomore in college and have a part-time job. This is the first time in my life I am able to actually do things by myself. To say the least, I am busy.
Most of the time, I enjoy it -- shopping, movies and even dining out. However, for some reason (especially while dining out), I get unwanted expressions of sympathy for being alone. Strangers comment about how sad it is to see me eating all alone. One woman offered to introduce me to her brother. She went so far as to ask for my phone number so she could pass it along to him, so that way I would have company.
I have friends and family, and if I had wanted company at that time, I would have invited someone. Sometimes I want to be alone to enjoy my "me" time. How can I respond to these unwanted comments and nip the conversations in the bud so they don't disrupt my entire meal? -- ALONE BUT NOT LONELY IN LOUISIANA
DEAR ALONE: Here's how. Smile and thank these kind people for their thoughtfulness. Say that at this point in your life you are enjoying freedom and comfortable solitude. And the next time you enter a restaurant, ask the host to seat you farther back, so you are not the first person these individuals encounter on the way to their table.
As to the sweet lady who tried to fix you up with her brother, I hope in the future you might be open to whatever possibilities come your way.
DEAR ABBY: I just started seasonal housecleaning, and I'm realizing my house is filled with useless knickknacks. When I get rid of an unneeded item, I remember who gave it to me and the special occasion associated with the gift. Then I start feeling guilty and wonder if I will later regret my decision to discard it.
My other issue is, I live in a small town. I'm afraid if I donate something to a local charity, friends or neighbors may see it at the thrift store, and I'll seem ungrateful for their thoughtfulness. How can I get over these feelings of guilt as I declutter? -- CRAMPED IN THE CAROLINAS
DEAR CRAMPED: Once a gift (or tchotchke) is given, it is the recipient's to do with as she chooses. If someone challenges your decision to donate an item, do not become defensive. Calmly explain that you are downsizing and decided to "share the pleasure" the item brought you with someone else.
DEAR ABBY: I was invited to a professional ballgame by my landlord, who has season tickets. He asked that I remind him to give me the ticket because he sells the ones he doesn't use. I have "reminded" him three times now, but I still haven't made it to a game.
When you invite someone somewhere, is it polite to make them do the work? He brought it up to me; I didn't ask. Am I wrong? -- ANNOYED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR ANNOYED: Asking someone to remind you of something makes sense if the person is more organized than you are. However, it is inconsiderate to extend an invitation and not follow through. I don't blame you for feeling annoyed because, after three reminders and no follow-through, it appears your landlord may not have been sincere in inviting you, or has sold the tickets to someone else.
DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing a woman who is 21 years younger than I am. She says she loves me, but I am hesitant because of our age difference.
We have known each other for years. She had a crush on me when she was 16, but I was married at the time, and she was too young. We made love a couple of times when she was in her 20s because I was divorced and she was single.
Now it's 10 years later. I'm in my late 50s; she's in her 30s. We are both single, and she wants to take care of me for the rest of my life.
She brings me lunch every once in a while, which I am amazed at because it's a long drive from where she lives. I worry about what other people will think, but she doesn't care and says she wants to love me and care for me because she knows what I am about. I grew up with her uncles and aunts and am good friends with them.
She's tired of dating people her age because she says they are immature. She has three kids and has never been married. I love her and want to take care of her, too, for the rest of her life. Should I listen to my heart? -- AGE IS A NUMBER, IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR AGE: You have known this woman for many years. It is not as though she's a stranger with three children who has approached you. Are the fathers of the children contributing to their support? If they are minors, what will be your role in their lives? These are important considerations. But how other people feel about your union should not affect your decision.
DEAR ABBY: I was date raped seven years ago, and the man who assaulted me gave me genital herpes. I'm not someone who has ever slept around. After the rape, I told no one. I didn't go to the police. I didn't go to the doctor to get checked right away because I was scared the doctor would report the rape to the police and my family would find out. I felt ashamed and dirty. Two months later, I finally found the courage to see a doctor. I realized I had genital herpes because I got a sore and went to get tested.
I'm now friends with a guy and feel like every time I meet someone I have to tell him I have herpes because I'm not the kind of person who lies or keeps secrets. My friend seems really interested in me, and I know I need to tell him.
I feel like my life is over, and I'll never be able to have kids or marry because of this disease. It's like the man who raped me has killed my social life and my desire to live. Please help me, Abby. I have no idea what to do. Should I just stay alone or try to get my life back? -- STRESSED AND ANXIOUS IN PUERTO RICO
DEAR STRESSED: For heaven's sake, take your life back! It is far from over. Go online and research the prevalence of STDs among teens and young adults in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The statistics will be an eye-opener for you and may reassure you that you are not alone in having herpes. This information should be shared with your sexual partners before becoming intimate. Medications can lessen the chance of transmission. Your doctor or a clinic worker can advise you.
DEAR ABBY: My 13-year-old son plays on a local travel sports team. Many of his teammates could be considered lower class or lower middle class. We live in a luxurious home. We don't flaunt it, and we're not snobbish. All of the kids and the parents get along, and socioeconomic status plays no role in our interactions.
My son invited a few of his teammates over for a few hours, and from the expressions on their faces, it was clear they had never seen a home like ours. They behaved like perfect gentlemen and were a pleasure to have over.
My mother suggested that it would be better not to invite the boys over again because it isn't fair to them. Her concern is that it might make them feel bad because they have so much less than we do. While I understand her point of view, I also think it can be beneficial for them to see what the possibilities are in the world if you work hard and are successful. Perhaps it will inspire them to do better in school, go to college, etc.
Of course, the primary purpose for their coming over was just for friends to spend time together and have fun. What do you think of these potential unintended consequences? -- SPORTS DAD IN THE SOUTH
DEAR DAD: I disagree with your mother. If your son and his teammates enjoy being together in addition to the time they spend doing their sports, they should be allowed that pleasure. Your home might be the most logical place to host these gatherings simply because it is large enough to accommodate all of the boys. Because they come from a lower income level doesn't mean they can't forge meaningful -- and lasting -- friendships with your son.
Many successful individuals weren't born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. And many successful individuals did not attend college. They went to trade and tech schools and provide themselves and their families with very comfortable lifestyles.
DEAR ABBY: My father passed away a little over a year ago. Since then, I have started spending more time with my mother, and my husband does not like it. She is a huge help with our kids. On the day she gets them off the school bus, she will stay for dinner. Our kids love it when she's here.
My husband now wants this to stop. He says it annoys him. He gets angry when I talk to her on the phone, when I go to her house, when I help her with things -- everything!
I am torn. I love my mother and don't want my relationship with her to change. But every time I do anything with her, even have a quick conversation, my husband throws it in my face that I "put her before him." Please help me. I am not sure how much more of this I can take. -- STUCK IN THE MIDDLE
DEAR STUCK: How often is your mother at your house, and how long does she stay after those dinners? How often did you interact with her before your father died? Have you been ignoring your husband in favor of interacting with your mom?
That he feels so encroached upon or threatened that he's determined to alienate you from your widowed mother and is dictating how often you can visit or talk with her on the phone tells me he may be an extremely jealous and controlling person. This is such a red flag you should discuss it with a licensed marriage and family therapist. If he won't agree to go with you, I urge you to go without him. You should also encourage your mom to branch out into other activities, so she can reduce the amount of time she's with you.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for three years. He's 26, and I'm 28. We have a good life, and he loves my 9-year-old daughter like his own child.
My husband is originally from Turkey and comes from a good family. However, I have yet to meet my in-laws. He avoids talking about my meeting them. I have talked to his younger sister and things are well and his family knows about us. But anytime I try to talk to him about money, meeting his family or starting a family, he refuses to discuss it.
I have spoken to him calmly and rationally. We have a lot in common, but anything stressful he avoids like the plague. If we get into an argument, he shuts down and walks out of the house. Recently, we got into a fight and he threw his phone at me because I shut our bedroom door. I don't yell at him.
Every other subject we talk about -- hobbies, music, dates, etc. -- is fine, but the important ones are in the back of my mind constantly. He cooks, cleans, helps with anything I ask and is a great husband. Please give me some advice on what to do. -- CLUELESS IN IOWA
DEAR CLUELESS: That your husband refuses to discuss meeting his family, won't talk about money with you, throws his phone at you when he's angry and clams up when you try to talk about starting a family are serious red flags. Because you have established a relationship with his sister, start asking her why her brother behaves the way he does. You may have better luck getting answers from her.
Although you say you have a "good life" with this man, if nothing changes, will you feel that way in years to come as your biological clock ticks away? From where I sit, your description of the man you're living with seems more like a houseman than a husband. Counseling might help you to improve the level of communication in your marriage, IF you can get him to agree to it. Something is very wrong here.
DEAR ABBY: My husband said something very derogatory to my cousin's sister-in-law at a family party. She told my cousin right away. Instead of coming to me, my cousin went to my brothers and sisters-in-law. They confronted my husband and told him he had to tell me or they would. My husband did tell me. Of course, it is now out in the open, and the ramifications have been horrible. My husband has apologized to all parties, which is about all he can do.
The issue is, my brothers and sisters-in-law now hate him to the point that they don't want him around their kids, whom my husband adores. I love my husband, but I love my family too. I worship my nieces and nephews.
I know if I stay and work on my marriage, my brothers and their wives won't support my decision, which will make me unhappy. We will no longer be able to socialize with family as a couple. However, if I walk away from my husband without trying to work on my marriage, I won't be happy either. I'm confused and trying to decide if I stay or go. Please help! -- LOSING EITHER WAY IN NEW YORK
DEAR LOSING: Was what happened at the family party something that happens often? Is your husband a loose cannon, a drunk, a misogynist, a verbal abuser? Has he changed for the worse since you married him? If the answer to these questions is no, in light of the fact that he has apologized to all concerned, I don't think you should give up on your marriage without careful consideration, possibly with input from your spiritual adviser and/or a licensed marriage and family therapist.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 54-year-old single woman who recently started dating again after four years of total abstinence. My two adult daughters, ages 18 and 22, live at home with me.
My dilemma: I am smitten, to say the least, with an attractive, supportive and very loving man. I have invited him over and introduced him to the girls, which went well until the other night, when my 22-year-old overheard us being intimate (her bedroom is next to mine). There was no screaming or anything lewd, no nudity or PDA, but I happen to have a slightly noisy bed.
She now refuses to sleep in her room and sent me a text telling me she wants to live with her dad because she thinks it's disgusting. I'm not sure how to feel. On one hand, I think she needs to grow up, but at the same time, I don't want to be the cause of her discomfort.
I explained to her that I'm happy after being alone for so long and perhaps she could be happy for me. My partner thinks she's jealous of our new relationship. The 18-year-old couldn't care less.
My question is, am I behaving inappropriately? Don't I have just as much right to enjoy my home as they do? -- GETTING BACK TO IT IN NEW YORK
DEAR GETTING BACK: I can see how your young adult daughter might be uncomfortable being confronted with her mother's sexual activity, to the musical accompaniment of squeaking bed springs. Most people have a hard time accepting their parents as sexual beings. You didn't mention whether your daughter's father would welcome this daughter moving in with him. If he's all for it, that would be the way to deal with her discomfort.
DEAR ABBY: I've been happily married for 13 years. Over the last few years we have experienced our brushes with the prospect of infidelity, but we remain committed to each other. While our marriage is a healthy and happy one, our commitment to each other has recently come into question, and we have been fighting more than usual.
Recently, a good friend of mine since almost childhood -- and brief lover in my early 20s -- with whom I have maintained friendly contact over the years, propositioned me. He said he has never fallen out of love with me and will continue to wait. I cut off my relationship with him without agreeing to an affair (or anything else) and have moved on with my marriage.
My concern is, now I feel this urge to let my husband know about the exchange, mostly to reinforce my commitment to him and maintain transparency. But part of me is afraid that bringing it up will cause more upset, and maybe I should keep it to myself. What should I do? -- NEEDING SOME GUIDANCE
DEAR NEEDING: Not all of our urges are meant to be acted upon. Be honest about your motive. What do you think telling your husband will accomplish? Will it bring you closer to each other, or remind him that you are attractive to other men and make him jealous? Will it anger him enough to want to punch your old friend and former lover in the nose? If this is a possibility, some things are better left unsaid.
DEAR ABBY: I've always wondered when it's appropriate for a couple to start giving gifts as a couple vs. individually. I've seen couples who start early on in their relationship and others who have been together for what feels like forever who still individually give gifts. -- WONDERING IN TEXAS
DEAR WONDERING: There are no hard and fast rules about something like this. It may depend on all the circumstances involved, and also may have something to do with how independent from each other the couple is.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old girl who's been with my boyfriend for two years. We are a wonderful match and love each other very much. There's just one flaw in our relationship that I hold lots of guilt over. From the beginning, we have both known he would like to have kids, and I have always known that I do not. I don't want biological children, and I have no desire to adopt. I'm not maternal.
My boyfriend and I had a deep conversation about it a while back when we realized there could actually be a future between us. He said he is willing to put aside his desire for kids so he can have a future with me. I feel guilty that I'm not the ideal woman for him. Should I break it off so he can find someone who wants children, or should I trust in his statement that his life really will be fulfilled with only me and no children? -- GUILTY IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR GUILTY: Not wanting children is nothing to feel guilty about. Many women feel as you do about the lifetime responsibilities of becoming a mother. I do think you would be wise to have several more "deep" conversations with your boyfriend to make sure he fully understands how serious you are on this subject and what marriage to you will mean. In addition, premarital counseling could be helpful to ensure you both are on the same page about other issues that might crop up.
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.
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