Man says machismo made him give in to divorce demand

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I was married to my wife for 29 years, and I have now been divorced for two. I have tried to move on, but I can't because I still love her. She initiated the divorce because she thought I cheated on her. I didn't fight her because I was too macho.

I don't know if I miss her or feel sorry for myself because I haven't been with a woman in more than two years. I'm attracted to women who are at least 15 years younger than me or who are married.

I have been on two dating sites for almost a year and even moved back to the state where my ex-wife lives hoping that one day she will ask me out. I've been throwing hints her way and have even written her letters, but she still thinks I cheated. I ache for her. What should I do? -- FIGHTING CHANCE IN THE EAST

DEAR FIGHTING CHANCE: Your marriage is history, and your "exaggerated masculinity" caused it. I am struck by the fact that nowhere in your letter did you deny that what your ex-wife thought was true. I don't understand what being "macho" has to do with not denying you cheated. What you should do now is learn from it, grow from it and move on.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband 25 years as of today. (We've been a couple for 32 years.) He has done absolutely nothing to commemorate this. I reminded him months ago to save for something because it was very important to me. My friends would have happily helped him do something.

Every year it's the same old nothing. He asked me to remind him and I did, but it made no difference. Same with my birthday. Yes, we have been in better positions financially than now. But if something was important to him, he always saved for it. I have money put away we could have used, and he knew this. Yet nothing.

The only time he shows me any kind of emotion or love/sex is when he's drunk. But he swears he loves me. I don't suspect cheating. He doesn't care what he looks like when we go places. I always try to look my best.

I'm at the end of my rope. This 25th anniversary really hurt me. He said we'll do something when he can. I can't take it anymore. I feel worthy of nothing, like I don't matter. What do I do? -- ANNIVERSARY SADNESS

DEAR ANNIVERSARY SADNESS: If the only time your husband shows you any kind of affectionate attention is when he is drunk, you have bigger problems than the fact that he "forgets" special occasions. Is this the way you want to spend the next 25 years of your life?

Receiving gifts does not make a person "worthy." You need to work on your level of self-esteem. As expensive as a celebration might have been, a gift you could both benefit from would be couples counseling.

DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful mother-in-law who recently turned 92. For the past five or so years, she has struggled with urinary incontinence and uses adult diapers. However, her urine really stinks. I don't think she changes her diaper often enough, and the smell is really strong throughout the day. I'm also afraid that by not changing often enough, she may get an infection.

Her children refuse to discuss the issue with her, so nothing is being done to change the situation. I find myself distancing from her since I can't stand the smell. I have researched the topic, and I don't think there's anything that can be done to address the incontinence issue due to her age and other medical issues. However, I think if she drank more fluids so her urine wouldn't be so concentrated, the smell wouldn't be so bad. I have talked to her about drinking more water for other reasons, but she doesn't want to because then she would need to urinate more.

I really love my MIL, but I can't stand to be near her. I feel like I'm only the daughter-in-law and that any discussions should come from her children, but they don't want to bring it up with her. What can be done? -- KEEPING MY DISTANCE

DEAR KEEPING: Has your mother-in-law seen a urologist and been told nothing can be done about her incontinence problem, or is she so embarrassed she hasn't seen one? Because her children refuse to discuss this with their mother, the ball is in your court. Please talk to her and urge her to see a doctor. Because when people age their sense of smell can diminish, she may not be aware that she has the problem you're describing.

She does need to drink more water and change her diaper more often than she's doing. Her mental and physical health could depend upon it. But she also needs to see a urologist.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing because I'm torn. My mother-in-law recently retired and wants to gift stocks to all of her grandchildren. However, my husband refuses to accept them on behalf of our son. We also didn't deposit her wedding and baby shower gifts to us. (Both were checks.) We just kept them because I felt it was the right thing to do.

However, in this case, I appreciate and would gladly accept the stocks. Her gift would pay for my son's higher education. My husband feels we can't accept everything he's given. I think he's being stubborn, not thinking about his son and letting his ego get in the way. What do you think about this? -- THINKING OF THE FUTURE

DEAR THINKING: Why am I thinking you omitted an important paragraph (or two) from your letter? The one describing your husband's troubled relationship with his mother. That relationship should be separate from hers with her grandchild.

She was generous with her wedding and shower gifts. (The checks should probably be destroyed at this late date because they can no longer be cashed.) As to the gift of stocks she wants to give your son, I see no rational reason why they shouldn't be accepted, acknowledged and saved to be used for the purpose for which they are intended. Your husband's stance on this is irrational and will serve no purpose other than to penalize the boy -- and both of you.

DEAR ABBY: My 29-year-old daughter just moved out on her own from the bedroom she has occupied since she was 7 months old and into a nice place. She has been dating "Ben" for five years. She has helped Ben and stuck by him. Despite the fact that Ben doesn't have a degree, my daughter has helped him improve his potential, and he now has licenses and gets well-paying jobs.

When he met my daughter, he lived with his mom. My daughter gave him the push to get his own place and helped him decorate. Ben is eight years older than she is and has a 9-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, whom my daughter gets along with.

I guess because parents have expectations for their kids, I thought by now there would have been some sort of talk about their future. She and Ben are still together, but I don't know if this relationship is headed anywhere. I like him, and I have a great relationship with my daughter. I don't want to intrude on her private life. What can I do to get them to move toward the future? -- CARING DAD IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR DAD: You are certainly free to have the discussion with your daughter, but as much as you love her, this is not your journey. It's hers and Ben's. Don't be a back-seat driver. They are enjoying the present, and the future will take care of itself.