DEAR ABBY: I have been friends with a guy, “Derrick,” since high school. He recently confided that for the last few years of his marriage he has been involved in an on-again, off-again affair.
He also told me that for most of his marriage his wife has been putting him down, blaming him for all their problems, constantly accusing him of cheating (they have been married far longer than the affair has been going on) and not letting him see his friends. Abby, I have witnessed some of her behavior myself, and it explains why he seemed to drop off the earth after he signed his marriage certificate.
I don’t know how to help him. He has tried to get his wife to agree to marriage counseling, but she refuses. He has young children, and he’s afraid that if he tries to divorce her, she’ll make sure he never sees them again.
She has spent years wearing him down and won. He’s no longer the outgoing, happy person I used to know. He was always ready to help anyone who needed him, and I want to return the favor. How? — SUPPORTIVE FRIEND IN VERMONT
DEAR FRIEND: Suggest to your friend that because his wife refuses to go to marriage counseling does not mean he shouldn’t go for individual counseling without her. If he does, it may be life-changing for him in a positive way because he may be able to reconnect with the person he was before he entered his emotionally abusive marriage.
I can’t promise his future will be problem-free after that, but he will be stronger and more able to cope with whatever his wife (or ex-wife) throws his way.
DEAR ABBY: My mother has always had a horrible habit of making plans and canceling at the last minute. When I make plans with her, she invariably cancels the day of. Lately she has started making me feel guilty for not coming around more.
I lost my license two years ago, so I can’t drive, and I work full time. She has no job and several vehicles. I’m not saying she doesn’t have things going on, but I can’t help but feel she’s just going through the motions and making it seem like she cares.
My younger brother had a baby girl last year, and Mom constantly has her or is trying to get her. To top it off, my brother lives in the same town I do. It makes me feel invisible.
I know when parents say they don’t have a favorite child, they are lying through their teeth, but this is blatant. I’m in my 30s and shouldn’t still be feeling like this. Please help. I feel like my parents would be better off with one less child to make fake plans with. — INVISIBLE IN OHIO
DEAR INVISIBLE: Whether your brother is the favored child, I can’t opine. However, it makes no sense that your mother would guilt you for not seeing her more often and then stand you up when you try.
Because you feel slighted, TELL HER how hurtful it is. If the situation doesn’t improve, plan fewer visits with her and concentrate on spending your time with people who do make you feel appreciated and loved.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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