Family breadwinner gives good health short shrift

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful husband of almost 20 years and two teenage children. My husband is incredibly hardworking in his stressful career and has provided a very comfortable life for us. The trouble is, he puts work ahead of any self-care. He works most waking hours, doesn't eat well, exercises rarely, is overweight -- the list goes on. When I ask/encourage/nag him to make positive lifestyle choices, he reminds me of the life insurance he has and turns it around on me and says I am stressing him.

Abby, I love my husband, and I worry that this will cut his life and our life together short. Can you help? -- BESIDE MYSELF WITH WORRY

DEAR BESIDE YOURSELF: I wish I could wave a magic wand and make your husband receptive to what you are trying to do for him. But until he's ready to address these issues and do something about them, nothing will change.

If he enjoys his career and takes pride in the fact that you and your children are -- and will be -- provided for, then he's living the life he has chosen for himself. This does not mean you must give up entirely suggesting healthy lifestyle choices, but perhaps do it a little less often and in terms of activities he might enjoy.

DEAR ABBY: After a long and successful life, my uncle recently passed away. His wife is my mother's sister. During one of our phone calls, she told me she and my cousins had written his obituary and that it would be published soon. To my shock and dismay, I located the obituary and discovered that my sister and I were not mentioned as his niece and nephew. I am still terribly hurt. Why would they do this?

My sister and I grew up spending every major holiday and birthday with my uncle. The obituary did include his other niece and nephew who live on the opposite side of the country and kept in touch only with an occasional phone call and holiday card. I included my cousins in my parents' and sister's obituaries, all of whom have passed in the last few years.

I feel that I must address this with them, but I don't want to add to the pain they are going through while they mourn their loss. I now dread attending the memorial because I'm worried friends of our family may bring it up, and I won't know what to say. -- HURT NEPHEW IN ILLINOIS

DEAR NEPHEW: Even when a death is expected, many people go into a state of shock, which interferes with their ability to sequence facts. It is entirely possible that the obituary was written when your aunt and cousins weren't thinking straight, which is why you were omitted. If someone brings it up at the memorial -- which I doubt will happen -- rather than nurse hurt feelings, I hope you will point out that the family, including you, is grieving. Period.

DEAR ABBY: How do you politely ask a neighbor to mow his lawn at reasonable times of the day? Mine seems to be doing it three days a week and always when we want to enjoy our backyard. -- TRYING TO RELAX

DEAR TRYING: If you are on speaking terms with this neighbor, explain that the noise from his lawnmower interferes with your ability to enjoy your backyard and ask politely if he could schedule it at another hour of the day. If he is a good neighbor, he should be willing to accommodate you.

DEAR ABBY: My husband of nearly 22 years and I divorced last year after he told me he didn't want to be married anymore and didn't know if he ever loved me. Since our split, he has bought a home with another woman -- the same woman I suspected him of having an affair with, and the same woman he encouraged me to befriend during our marriage. (I even took her on a trip to Europe.)

Our son is graduating from high school. We are planning a belated, socially distanced graduation party for my son, and my ex wants to bring her. My challenge is that I am with someone new as well, but he is someone who came into my life a couple of months after my ex and I separated. I want him to be at the party, but I don't want her there. I feel our circumstances are quite different.

My son is my priority, so I am leaning toward asking my new significant other not to attend, and then asking that she not attend either. I'm still hurt by their actions. What is the protocol here, and what should I do? -- PROUD MOM MOVING ON

DEAR MOM: I understand your hurt feelings, but, as you wrote, the party is a celebration of your son's achievement and nothing else. If things turn out as it appears they will, your ex may marry this woman, and she would be to some extent in your life when your son marries, starts a family, etc. (Sorry!)

The saving grace through all of this is you have a new partner in your life who can help buffer you. Fortunately, you will be social distancing, so you won't have to spend much time in her space. While you don't have to welcome this woman with open arms, please observe the social niceties and devote the majority of your time to mingling with the other guests.

DEAR ABBY: I met a man many years ago. Shortly afterward, my husband passed away. I was in a tough spot, and this man came to my rescue. He offered me a place to live, but I refused. After a few months, I started receiving love letters from him. I carefully answered them, telling him I had gotten involved with someone else, but if it didn't work out, I might consider dating him.

After about a month, he began showing up at my house. By then I was living with my new man, "Roger." I explained I was in love and he should leave, but he still showed up at my house every couple of months.

I was with Roger for 11 years, but after a battle with heart problems, he died. This man showed up while Roger was in a coma. I told him with much anger several times to please stop coming to my house.

Two days after Roger's death, he again showed up. He asked if it was OK to take me on a date now, and I lost it. I ordered him to never come to my door again and told him I would never date him. He has started sending me love letters again. I don't answer them. He still calls or sends angry letters and still comes by asking if I would like to go on a date. Help! -- FED UP IN WASHINGTON

DEAR FED UP: If you have a lawyer, have him/her write the man a formal letter telling him you have tried to politely discourage his attentions and that if he persists in harassing you, he will be reported to the police as a stalker. Then follow through by filing a report with the authorities.

P.S. If your home is not equipped with a security system, consider installing one. He is creepy.

DEAR ABBY: I recently lost my mom. It was very sudden. We were extremely close, and she was the most wonderful grandmother to my children. My mother-in-law and my husband have a strained relationship that I have struggled to navigate for years. I have always reached out to her and made sure she sees the grandchildren.

I have been a little "lost" since my mom's death, and so have my children. I had hoped my MIL would step up and step in, but it just didn't happen. I am disappointed and sad for my children, and the situation seems to be getting worse. When I try to talk to my husband about it, his reply is, "I'm not close to my mom like you were with yours."

What should I do? Do I keep reaching out and being angry on the inside, or speak up and say something? I should add that my husband and his mom are now at the point where they barely talk on the phone. I hate to be negative, but I feel very done with the childish behavior! My children need a grandma. -- ANNOYED UP NORTH

DEAR ANNOYED: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your sweet mother. That you and your children feel her absence so acutely is a testament to how special she was.

Unfortunately, you married someone who doesn't have the kind of relationship you were lucky enough to have with your mom. All moms and grandmothers are not created equal. Your MIL appears to be incapable of stepping up to the plate.

Rather than continue reaching out to her with expectations, you might be less angry and frustrated if you do it less often without cutting her completely off. Instead, look around and consider "adopting" a mentor for yourself who can also become a grandmother figure for your children. This isn't unheard of. A government-sponsored program, Foster Grandparents, provides a way for volunteers 55 and over to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities. To find out more, go to and click on "Senior Corps." Love is a gift that keeps on giving, and it works both ways.

DEAR ABBY: A while ago, my wife and I were leaving the grocery store. I was wearing my baseball cap with a U.S. Navy logo embroidered on it. As we passed the table where the Brownies were selling Girl Scout cookies, I politely told them "not today" and proceeded to cross to the parking lot. The woman who was supervising the girls approached and asked if she could talk to me. When I turned around, she said, "We would like to donate a box of cookies to you and your wife in honor of your service to our country." Abby, I was so touched. I thought my heart would burst when one of the little scouts asked if I would take a picture with her.

I share this so others will know what it means for a veteran to be acknowledged by someone saying, "Thank you for your service." -- NAVY VETERAN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR VETERAN: What a sweet letter. Not only was the acknowledgement gratifying, but I'm sure those cookies were delicious. Although not every veteran feels the same way about being thanked as you do, I'm sure the majority do. Thank you for pointing it out to my readers.