Parents strive to heal their youngest son’s broken heart

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My son, a high school senior, was in a relationship with a young woman who broke up with him and began dating his best friend. He was heartbroken. She played him into being friends and tells him he's her best friend, but her actions prove otherwise.

His father and I comforted him as best we could, but he still has feelings for her. It was a tough breakup for him, and he says he can't understand why he feels this way for her. We as parents are having a hard time keeping our opinions to ourselves. We are not happy with him still being around her and try to discourage it as much as possible.

We all attend the same church, from which I've offered to remove myself, but my son says no. We limit the time he gets to be around her, but she has begun flaunting other dates in front of him, which is making it hard for us to be cordial toward her.

How can I help my boy heal his heart and move on? He's my youngest, the last one ready to venture out to college, and I want him to have a fresh start for the new journey. -- HEAVY-HEARTED MOM

DEAR MOM: Some lessons in life people must learn for themselves, and this is one of them. As much as you wish to help your son heal his heart, he's going to have to arrive at the realization that there's more pain than pleasure associated with the girl who rejected him. That is when he will move on, not before.

College will provide him an opportunity to meet new people and cultivate new interests. Being in a new environment will also help. In the meantime, be patient, refrain from saying anything nasty (as tempting as it might be) about his former girlfriend and keep your son as busy as you can.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to the same woman for 34 years. We have raised two great kids. The problem is, my wife does not show, respond to or initiate any affection or intimacy. I understand she has been through menopause, but is this the new normal? For me it is a lonely, cold existence. Most nights she won't even share the same bed with me. She also does not respond well to talking about things. Must I live the rest of my life this way? -- ROOMMATE IN VIRGINIA

DEAR ROOMMATE: Your problem is less about the lack of affection and intimacy in your marriage and far more about the lack of communication your wife allows you to have with her. If a problem can't be discussed, there is no way to arrive at a solution or a compromise.

If you haven't told her how lonely and isolated you feel, start there. What's happening is not fair to you. This is something that should be discussed with her doctor because there may be a medical solution if sex is painful for her.

However, if it is more complicated than that, recognize that you need more help than I can give you in a letter or a newspaper column, and ask your doctor or insurance company to refer you to a licensed marriage and family therapist for the answers you are seeking. If your wife refuses to go with you, go without her.

DEAR ABBY: I recently found out who my biological father is/was. Apparently, my mother and this man had an affair more than 50 years ago. There's only speculation as to why.

What bothers me is, I have always lived no more than 15 miles from this man and his family. I tried reaching out to the one half-sibling I am most knowledgeable about. They have made no attempt to contact me about this elephant in the room. I don't know if it's shame or embarrassment on their part.

I am a respectable man with a great family. Why someone would not want to reach out and at least get to know a brother they supposedly never knew existed is beyond me. We've wasted way too many years kept in the dark about this well-kept secret. My thought is that you can never have too big a family -- even if we are only half-siblings. Should I continue attempting to reach them, or just sweep all of this under the rug and pretend it never happened? -- EXPANDING THE FAMILY IN OHIO

DEAR EXPANDING: Not everyone is as open-hearted or inclusive as you. After half a century, your birth father's family may prefer not to open this chapter of their father's life, and they should not be forced to. Because you have already reached out to them without getting a response, I don't think you should push the issue. You wrote that you are a respectable man with a great family. Count your blessings, because not everyone is so fortunate.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 42-year-old man who lives at home with my parents after getting out of an abusive relationship. A full night's sleep is important to me and waking up early from avoidable noises is upsetting because I am unable to go back to sleep. My mother's cellphone is what's waking me up.

I have asked her numerous times to turn off the ringer at night. She has no reason to be a go-to for emergencies, yet she acts as if she is. The last time I asked, she actually told me the phone calls she missed (because she forgot to turn her ringer back on) are more important than my sleep.

She says she's glad I'm back living at home because I am making life a little easier for them. They are getting old, and I have come to the conclusion I will be here taking care of my parents in the coming years.

I have told Mom numerous times to have her hearing checked, too, to no avail. I think that may be why her cellphone ringer blares so loudly. On numerous occasions I have been sitting upstairs and heard Dad ask her a question in the living room, and Mom, who is sitting right next to him, says, "What?" She's in denial about her hearing.

I would rather not move out, but I am about ready to do it for peace and quiet. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? -- INJURED EARS IN ILLINOIS

DEAR INJURED EARS: Yes, I do. Ask your mother to put her phone on vibrate at bedtime or use its do-not-disturb feature between certain hours. If she refuses, then purchasing a white noise machine might be a solution.

Suggest to your father that he inform their doctor about your mother's hearing problems. Perhaps if the doctor tells her it's time to have her hearing checked by an audiologist, she won't tune out the message.