DEAR ABBY: I am a single man who recently met a widow who is nine years older. We connected via an online dating site.
At the end of our three-hour conversation, she said, "No man will ever share my bed." This is because of her second husband, who died six years ago. She said if a man shared her bed, she felt it would be cheating on her late husband.
When she said it, I was surprised and shocked. I hadn't asked her if she would share my (or another man's) bed. What are your thoughts on this, and do a lot of widows adhere to this practice? Should this be considered a deal-breaker in a potential relationship? And would replacing the bed with a new one help? -- SLEEPLESS IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR SLEEPLESS: Some widows -- and widowers -- become celibate after the death of their spouse. A phrase I have heard used is, "I've had the best, and no one can ever replace _______." I also know women and men who, after their grief has lessened, have gone on to have happy, successful second or third marriages.
What the woman you were talking with was doing was eradicating any expectation you might have had about a sexual relationship with her. She should have specified on her profile that sex was off the table. Be glad she was honest.
This would be a deal-breaker for any man who is interested in maintaining his sex life. While replacing her mattress might have been a helpful suggestion, I doubt she would have been receptive. According to the mail I receive, amorous couples make love in many places besides the bedroom.
DEAR ABBY: I read you every day. My daughter, the oldest of four children, and I had a falling-out because I paid for her education but she couldn't be thankful. She was very entitled as a child, but it was important to me that she graduated. She's a schoolteacher now.
When she asked me to pay for her wedding, I said, "Will you be thankful this time?" She stomped out and said, "I'll do it myself!" I learned today that she went gown shopping with my mom and her fiance's mother and excluded me. I am so angry, hurt and sad that I don't even want to go to the wedding anymore. I could use some advice here. -- SAD IN ARKANSAS
DEAR SAD: I'm surprised you had to demand gratitude from your daughter. She may have not learned appreciation because she was always handed everything she wanted, so now she expects your role in her life to continue on that path. That she went gown shopping without inviting you was her way of punishing you for not forking over the money for her wedding. (I wonder if your mother and her fiance's mother are contributing.)
I do not think you should skip her wedding, regardless of how tempted you may be. That said, it is important you realize a pattern has been established in your relationship with your daughter, and she may use your grandchildren as pawns to manipulate you, so be prepared.
DEAR ABBY: I take care of my daughter-in-law's taxes and have for the past 15 years. I have never charged her for it. When she brings me the paperwork, it is always a mess. I told her I would be her full-time bookkeeper and charge her $300 a month, but it's like getting blood from a turnip. I have to beg her each month for my pay.
My husband said I should stop doing it for her. What should I do? I feel that this is driving a wedge between us. She owns a small construction cleaning service and makes good money. -- GOOD WITH FIGURES IN FLORIDA
DEAR GOOD: Your daughter-in-law may resent the fact that you want payment for keeping her finances in order, but I'll bet you're charging far less than a nonfamily member would. It's time to tell her that dunning her for money every month has become too stressful. Suggest that she set up an automatic fund transfer to your account to cover the monthly fee. If she's unwilling to do that, then your husband has the right idea and it would be better for both of you if she hired someone else for these services.
DEAR ABBY: One of my dearest friends has a nasty habit of making snide comments about people who are overweight. We've been friends for more than 40 years, and she has always been this way.
Now that I'm older, I have packed on a few pounds myself, and when she says these things in a conversation, I'm like, "Hey, I'm overweight too! Am I disgusting?" I can't seem to find the words to get her to think about what she says.
It doesn't really hurt my feelings, but it makes her sound like a horrible person, and she really isn't. She's a dear in almost every other respect. I would like to get her to stop this, so what's your advice? -- FRIEND HAS A FAULT
DEAR FRIEND: The next time she does it, say out loud, "Hey, I'm overweight, too! Am I disgusting like you say about those other people? I have listened to this for 40 years and enough is enough! You are sweet, but when you say those things, you come across as nasty and judgmental. So cut it out!" (Better late than never.)
DEAR ABBY: I am 41, divorced for the second time, and I have fallen madly in love with a wonderful man. He got out of a 12-year relationship six months ago. Until just last week he still had ties with her, but he finally washed his hands of her. The only thing is, he lied to her to avoid a confrontation. He couldn't bring himself to stand up to her and tell her the truth.
It hurts me deeply, and it has forced a wedge between us. He doesn't understand why it hurts me so much, and he doesn't seem to care. I'm trying to shake it, but it's hard to do. I just need someone to help me get over it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -- HEARTBROKEN IN TENNESSEE
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: I wish you had revealed what this gentleman is afraid to tell his ex. Could it be that he is involved with you? If so, this is a red flag. His unwillingness or inability to tell the truth is a serious character flaw and not something you should ignore.
DEAR ABBY: We live next door to an 89-year-old woman, "Estelle." She's a "snowbird," meaning she is our neighbor for only part of the year. She has a devoted caretaker, "Iris," who visits her almost daily. Iris shops for her, brings in her mail, and helps her with laundry, bathing and many other intimate tasks.
Estelle has given us a key to her house for emergencies. The issue is that once Estelle leaves for the summer, Iris arrives almost daily for what appear to be afternoon trysts with a man, not her husband. They stay in the house for two to three hours and then leave, always in separate cars.
After several weeks of seeing this, my husband went over to Estelle's house to check on things. The bed in the master bedroom was obviously used. The air conditioning was on high, and the house was in general disorder; not anything like how Estelle would have left things.
Our dilemma is, we know Estelle depends upon Iris. She trusts and adores her. Do we turn a blind eye to what's going on? It really isn't our business except that we hate seeing someone taken advantage of. Last year we reported our observations to Estelle's son as he was bringing his mother here for the winter. He wasn't sure what to do because, as I said before, she's quite dependent on her caretaker. Advice? -- SEEING TOO MUCH IN FLORIDA
DEAR SEEING: This is Estelle's home and Estelle's employee. If this were happening on your property, wouldn't you want to know about it? I see nothing to be gained by keeping Estelle in the dark. Tell her what has been going on, that your husband went to check the place and found it in disarray. Then leave the ball in her court.
DEAR ABBY: For a handful of years, I have been dealing with anxiety and mild depression. But over the last 18 months or so, I have been experiencing both the highest highs and the lowest lows. These periods can last for up to a week and affect my productivity levels. My ability to function as a normal human being isn't noticeably diminished, though.
Because I'm a teenager, a lot of emotional turmoil is happening. But I can't help feeling that maybe what I'm experiencing isn't normal for people my age. How do I know the difference between routine mood swings and a mental disorder like bipolar? There is a history of bipolar in my family, but I don't know if it has transferred to me. I want to know if I need to start talking about that aspect of things with my therapist or if what I'm going through doesn't need to be bothered with. -- TEEN IN TOUCH IN WASHINGTON
DEAR TEEN: You are obviously very bright. Because of the history of bipolar disorder in your family, your mood swings are something you should be paying attention to. I am glad you are seeing a therapist, and you should absolutely be discussing your concerns -- all of them -- with that person. In psychotherapy, honesty is always the best policy. If it turns out that your worries are needless -- fine. However, if they are not, it would be to your advantage to know it so you can be treated for it.