Family ties break down after mom moves away

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: Since I moved eight years ago, my son, "Jim," has visited me only once, and that's because I gave his son my car. I rarely hear from him, and when I have visited, we barely talk. We have totally different ideas on life, and it has caused a rift in our relationship.

When I have visited Jim and his wife, they just sit, watch movies and eat takeout food unless I take them out and pay for the meal. Over the years, I have given my son money and housed him when he went through a terrible divorce. His children are grown now, and I don't hear from them either.

He remarried a woman he met on the internet who has different ideas on things than my family and the way I was brought up. It hurts me very much. What's your opinion on what to do about this situation? I'm at a loss. -- LET DOWN IN IDAHO

DEAR LET DOWN: It's sad, but the breakdown in your relationship with Jim started a long time ago. It should have been addressed then.

It's not uncommon for adults to have ideas that differ from their parents', but it shouldn't cause a rift. If your son and his wife are hiding behind their television set rather than conversing, the situation may be as uncomfortable for them as it is for you.

If the dynamics in your relationship are going to improve, you will have to convince them to discuss where things went off track, agree to disagree on certain topics and talk about other things when you see them. From what you have written, it appears you are doing all the work in the relationship, and that isn't fair to you.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a gay male who has fallen in love with my best friend, who is straight. After months of feeling dishonest in our friendship, I told him how I felt. At first he seemed OK with it. He told me he couldn't reciprocate those feelings, but he still loved me as his friend and asked me not to make it "weird."

A month later, he said if I can't find a way to fall out of love with him, we could no longer be friends. I didn't change anything about my relationship with him. I maintained the status quo, and he seemed good with it. I don't know what to do.

I am extremely sad because I don't want to lose my best friend. We had a great relationship, which is why I thought he would appreciate my honesty and we could work through the issue. What's your advice? -- TURNED DOWN IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TURNED DOWN: This person may be wonderful, but he could not handle the responsibility of a close personal relationship with someone who was in love with him if it wasn't reciprocal. My advice is to accept it and move on. You really have no alternative because the decision has already been made for you. You have my sympathy, but you will heal from this. I promise.

DEAR ABBY: All my boyfriend wants to do is clean the house and make love to me. He also cooks for me, massages me, worships my body, insists that I take naps and makes me laugh nonstop. What's wrong with him? -- PONDERING IN THE SUNSHINE STATE

DEAR PONDERING: What's wrong with YOU? This must be a new relationship. Give it time, and I am sure you will uncover something.

DEAR ABBY: Two years ago, my husband of 50 years confessed that 46 years ago, shortly after our son was born, he had a one-night stand with a total stranger he gave a ride to. She offered sex to him, and they went to a hotel for the brief encounter. He said he had totally forgotten about it until recently. He said he was very upset when he remembered, to the point that he felt sick.

He decided to tell me because he didn't want any secrets between us, and he asked me to forgive him. I forgave him, but I have been devastated ever since. He was a virgin when we married, and he has been unfaithful only that one time.

Abby, I cannot get over the fact that he did this to me. Not a single day goes by without the pain and the images of him being unfaithful in a marriage that I considered to be nearly perfect until then, take hold of me and make me very sad. I don't cry as much anymore, but the intensity of the pain hasn't subsided.

I haven't talked to anyone else about this. My husband loves me and has been very supportive, but it hasn't been enough to heal this pain. Your words of wisdom will be appreciated. -- WOUNDED IN FLORIDA

DEAR WOUNDED: So your husband chose to ease his guilty conscience about this one-time infidelity 46 years ago and lay it on you. It would have been kinder had he "confessed" to his spiritual adviser.

Focus on the fact that what happened (once) four years into your marriage is less relevant than the quality of the relationship you have shared during the ensuing nearly half-century. Because it has been two years since your husband told you and you are still in emotional pain, consider enlisting the help of a licensed marriage and family therapist. Talking it out may help these feelings to dissipate so you will no longer be haunted by the images in your head. Please do not wait to do this. Your physician is the first person to ask for a referral.

DEAR ABBY: I have read about how narcissistic, angry, depressed people shame others and spread lies on social media. May I take a moment to remind your readers that they do not have to have social media? I stopped looking at it two years ago, after the death of my sister. People said some horrible things, so I decided enough is enough -- I'm done. Not only have I not missed it, I'm much more peaceful and less stressed. I connect with people I love through email, texting and sometimes good old-fashioned letter-writing. That works for me. -- FREEDOM REGAINED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FREEDOM REGAINED: I have received an increasing number of letters from people about problems in which there is a social media element. For those who have become overwhelmed, I recommend limiting time spent online. For people who have been victimized by trolls, another solution is to simply block or delete them.

I'm sharing your suggestion for anyone who might need it -- and I suspect there may be quite a few. However, disconnecting from social media does take more effort because the dropouts must decide not only who they wish to communicate with but also by what means to do it.