Happy love life turns best friend into a Debbie Downer
DEAR ABBY: I have been lucky enough to have fallen madly in love with the most wonderful man in the world. We have been together for two years and living together for almost a year. I'm in my mid-30s; he's in his mid-40s. We both have had plenty of experience in love -- enough to feel sure that we've found the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with.
My best friend has been very disparaging of our relationship and makes rude comments about it. If I tell her how happy we are in spite of the pandemic, she says it's because we're still in the "honeymoon phase." If I describe something kind that my boyfriend has done for me, she adopts a condescending tone and makes remarks about "new love" and that I should enjoy this now because it will change.
She's the same age I am and has been with her fiance for nine years. I have always been very supportive of their relationship, but she seems incapable of offering me the same level of support in my love life. When I try to talk to her about something she has said or done that bothers me, she often becomes aggressive, and I don't know how to approach this subject without getting into an argument or losing our friendship. What should I do? -- PROUDLY LUCKY IN LOVE
DEAR PROUDLY LUCKY: Could your friend be suffering from a touch of jealousy because you constantly extoll your boyfriend's virtues? Her cynicism may have something to do with the fact that she and her fiance have been together for nine years with no marriage in sight.
If you can't talk to her about sensitive issues without her becoming aggressive or you being afraid of losing the friendship, it doesn't take a crystal ball to see the two of you are growing increasingly distant with the passage of time. I do think you should ask your friend why she reacts the way she does and tell her how it makes you feel. It may be the only way to save your friendship.
DEAR ABBY: At what age is it no longer appropriate for children to play naked while outside in their yard?
We are a childless couple in our 60s who live in a suburban neighborhood in the Northeast. A new couple moved here with their children, a boy and a girl, who appear to be about 5 and 8 years old. Both of them often are naked while playing in their yard. This happens in all kinds of weather, not just when it's extremely hot.
We all have fairly large yards, but none of the yards in the neighborhood are private. Neighbors on both sides of this family and anyone walking up or down the street can see the children. We are not prudes, but this happens frequently, and it makes us uncomfortable. Is it time for us to move? -- AVERTING MY EYES
DEAR AVERTING: Five- and 8-year-old minors are too old to be naked in public. Pay a visit to your new neighbors' house and introduce yourself. Ask why the kids play outside with no clothes on. Gauge what you learn, and if you suspect neglect or abuse, report it to Child Protective Services.
DEAR ABBY: Although he has never hit me, my husband has been emotionally and verbally abusive ever since our wedding five years ago. One of his favorite names for me when he's angry is "F----n' B----." I know this is my fault because I have tolerated it.
Today, my 2 1/2-year-old daughter (who is usually a good girl) threw a tantrum and called me the same name twice. I try to discipline her, but she doesn't understand that she's saying something bad if Daddy can call me that. How can she? He blames me for her talking that way, saying he hasn't called me that in a month. (He called me that last week. I don't use that language.)
I have suggested marriage counseling in the past, but he refused. I can't leave him because I am seven months pregnant with our second child. How do I get both of them to respect me? -- DISRESPECTED IN THE EAST
DEAR DISRESPECTED: You know that appointment you wanted to make for you and your husband with a licensed marriage and family therapist? Make one for yourself, right now, because what's going on isn't healthy for you or your little girl.
Your husband demeans you because from the moment you married him you have allowed it. Your 2-year-old isn't being disrespectful when she calls you what her father does. Children her age want attention, and they are mimics. Giving them attention when they use bad language reinforces them to do it more.
Please do as I'm suggesting before you conceive a third child. From your description of your relationship with your husband, his verbal abuse and the disrespect it conveys WILL be an example for your children that will follow them into adulthood.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 37-year-old mother of two (ages 9 and 11). My husband and I have built a beautiful life together. We live in close proximity to his family, whom I absolutely love.
My question involves my own family. My father passed away 2 1/2 years ago. We were very close, so it is an ongoing struggle for me. My mother has since disowned me and my children. She's a textbook narcissist who has said many very hurtful things and has a new man and new life. Our relationship was always strained, and I knew it wouldn't be the same without Dad because he was the glue.
I have come to terms with this for myself, but we haven't talked to our children about it. How do I explain to them that their grandma doesn't want to be a part of their life? They love her and ask about her often, so I keep making stuff up.
She won't answer phone calls from me or my husband. I believe she has us blocked. She has also blocked us on social media along with other family members.
I want my kids to know the truth, but I don't want to hurt them. How can I do this? -- MOTHERLESS IN OHIO
DEAR MOTHERLESS: Stick as close to the truth as you can, with some editing. If your children ask about their grandmother, explain that people deal with the death of a loved one in different ways. In your mother's case, "She needed to look forward and not look back. Because your grandfather's death was so painful, she is concentrating on things other than family, and although we might miss her, we should be comforted that she has found a way to cope. It may not be what we would have wished, but it is her way, and we have to respect it and go on with our own lives."