Recent divorcee is surprised to find love close to home

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I am recently divorced after a 19-year marriage, and to my great shock, I already find myself in love with another man. I didn't come out of the marriage looking for anyone, nor did I think I'd ever marry again, but this man wants to marry me, and I'm seriously considering it.

We bonded when he contacted me to offer support after he heard about my divorce, and it was love at "second" sight. Why "second"? Because we grew up together -- literally next door -- and he's my first cousin.

Despite the societal taboo, it is legal in my state for first cousins to marry, and genetic issues with offspring aren't a concern. We're both sterile and have no ability (or desire) for more children. My siblings suspect and aren't pleased with the situation. His parents know and are happy for us.

Am I crazy to think I'm in love again this quickly? It doesn't feel too fast because we've always known each other and been close; it's just that the form of love has changed. How do we break it to the rest of the family? The world? People can be so judgmental, even though in many parts of the world it is perfectly normal to marry your cousin. -- SECRET LOVE IN THE SOUTH

DEAR SECRET LOVE: You are not "crazy," but you may be in an altered mental state, as many recently divorced people have found themselves. They describe it as a kind of high.

If you are wise — and I hope you are — you will slow this romance down and allow enough time for your family to become accustomed to the changed circumstances of your relationship with your cousin. The "world" isn't going to care about this the way your family does, so don't concern yourself with explaining anything to the general public. (How often have you asked couples to explain if they are related in addition to marriage? Not many, I'll bet.)

My advice is to let this new relationship evolve more slowly. If you do, the outcome may be more positive than if you hurtle to the altar.

DEAR ABBY: I have the best wife and daughter ever, and here's my dilemma. My daughter lives in another state and would love us to build a second home nearby to be closer to their family.

My wife and I are nearly 80 and very active. I play tennis or pickleball every day. My wife walks an hour to an hour and a half every morning. We are happiest when we are active. Where my daughter lives is not conducive to walking, and my wife would be very unhappy.

Please don't suggest a gym or a treadmill -- been there, done that. Plus, my wife has no desire to take on the added burden of a second house. We just downsized five years ago. How do I keep the two women in my life happy? -- FIGURING IT OUT IN FLORIDA

DEAR FIGURING: Recognize that it won't be possible to make both women happy. Your first loyalty should be to your wife.

Explain to your daughter that you know she means well, but that at your ages (80), your routine is extremely important. (It's true.) That routine may be what keeps you as healthy as you are. Back it up with the fact that two homes would be too much for you and her mother to manage, which is why you have both decided -- as much as you love her -- to keep things as they are. And stick to it. Your daughter can visit you, and you can visit her, but stay where you are.

DEAR ABBY: For the past eight years, my son has been seeing "Tanya" and, according to him, she spends a lot. I'm concerned about it.

Because of the pandemic, Tanya got furloughed from her employer. She lives in an apartment but has all deliveries sent to our home address. Since the pandemic, we are receiving many more packages for her every day from online stores. Our son has mentioned to us that she has huge credit card bills. I'm worried if these two get more serious (marriage), it will cause problems in the future.

I'm tempted to say something to Tanya about the sudden increase in deliveries. Or should I keep quiet? We tell our son, but he always has no comment. Some days it's like Christmas Day for packages. -- PERPLEXED DAD IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR DAD: Your son and Tanya are adults. If anyone addresses her spending, it should be your son. I don't advise saying anything to Tanya because it's sure to be resented and could possibly cause a rift between you and your son. Talk to him one more time and explain your concern that his girlfriend is showing symptoms of being a spendaholic. But after that, drop it because the problem will be his, not yours, to solve.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a man living in a small town, and I frequent a local cafe for breakfast. The waitress who serves me each morning, "Rita," does a terrific job, and all of my needs are met. In turn, I leave her a generous tip.

Abby, despite exchanging small talk during coffee refills, Rita snubs me when our paths cross outside the diner. She will look directly at me, turn her head and offer no greeting.

I'm not seeking a relationship with her. In the cafe, I always sit alone and enjoy reading my newspaper while I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee. It just bothers me that she won't offer a simple, civil greeting outside the diner. Would I be justified in reducing the amount of the tip because of her behavior? -- PUZZLED PATRON IN INDIANA

DEAR PATRON: Have you tried speaking up and saying hello to her? I don't know Rita. She may be unfriendly or prefer to draw a firm line between her professional life and her personal one. You stated that you tip her generously because of the terrific service she gives you. If that's true, I don't think she should be punished for keeping her distance when she's not at the restaurant.

DEAR ABBY: My husband plays a video golf game most of the time while we watch TV together. If I ask him an occasional question or want to show him something, he says I am interrupting him and I need to wait until he takes his golf shot.

It's very frustrating to always be put on hold when we are together. I think communication is more important than a game. I'm tired of always having to wait, so I just say, "Never mind." Any suggestions? -- OUT OF THE GAME

DEAR OUT: Just saying "never mind" doesn't get your message across. The next time it happens, tell your husband how you feel about coming in second place behind his toy, because you don't "interrupt" often and you are more important than his video golf game.

DEAR ABBY: My mother, who is 80 years old, hums her own made-up tunes. She has done it for as long as I can remember, but for the last few years, the frequency and intensity has increased. She does wear a hearing aid in one ear and sees her audiologist regularly. I have asked others, who say people with hearing problems often hum to fill the empty space caused by the hearing loss.

My problem is that her constant humming is so annoying it is negatively affecting my relationship with her. I have treaded lightly on the subject with her to be sure she's aware that others can hear her, in case she was thinking they couldn't.

Mom said that once someone asked her if she was talking to herself, and she replied that she was singing to herself. My personal opinion is that it may be a soothing mechanism for her when she feels awkward during a conversation. She may feel that her humming replaces talking yet makes her feel included in the conversation.

I don't want to cause hurt feelings or add to her discomfort. She's shy by nature, but has come a long way in her confidence. Advice? -- TUNING OUT IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR TUNING OUT: The first thing you should do is ask your mother to tune the humming down because it bothers you. If she doesn't, then discuss it with her audiologist. If you don't get the answers you need there, consult her physician. What she's doing may be common -- or not. But you need to get your questions answered by someone who knows your mother and is close enough to evaluate her.

DEAR ABBY: I tried to help out a friend who had damage to her truck. I took it upon myself without her knowledge to take pictures of her damaged truck. I thought it would help her in getting estimates on her vehicle.

Her truck was parked outside her son's residence, and he came out immediately when he saw me from his window. I didn't explain what I had done for reasons I would rather not say, but I planned to tell my co-worker at a later date. When I saw her at work the next day, she was furious about what I had done, and it almost destroyed our friendship.

Was I wrong in doing her a favor, or out-of-line? Was it inappropriate? I didn't want to jeopardize our friendship; I was only trying to help. Any suggestions? -- CONCERNED IN TEXAS

DEAR CONCERNED: I'm trying to understand why you didn't volunteer to photograph the damage to your co-worker's truck so she could get estimates on the cost of repairs. I am also in the dark about why you wouldn't explain what you were doing when her son came outside and, I assume, asked what you were doing. Transparency would have been better than secrecy, and I hope you will carry this suggestion into the future.

DEAR ABBY: May I share four words that planted a positive seed in my heart? They are, "Make Gratitude Your Attitude." They are strong medicine I use in coping with my disabilities, and it works. -- HINT FROM HILO, HAWAII

DEAR HINT: Thank you for wanting to share your "strong medicine." I agree it's hard to think negatively while counting our blessings.