Dear Abby: Man, 40, hasn’t dated in decades, yearns for a wife

His love life stopped when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 15; now he’s well but lacks the self-confidence to talk to women.

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DEAR ABBY: My son will celebrate his 40th birthday soon. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 15 and basically lost the years between 15 and 21. Thankfully, at 21, he was given medication that changed his life, and he has been well ever since.

He has always wanted a wife and family. Even when he was in his worst mental state, that one desire prevailed. But other than when he was 15, he has never been on a date. I have encouraged him to try a dating service or two, but his lack of self-confidence keeps him from trying. He told me he has never had a real conversation with a woman. His work also keeps him isolated. Still, he insists he very much wants to be dating by the time he hits 40. Any suggestions? — MOM WHO CARES IN FLORIDA

DEAR MOM: I do have a couple. Encourage your son to join groups centered around subjects or activities he might be interested in. Whether he meets the love of his life in one of them is beside the point. It will provide him the opportunity to talk with people of the opposite sex and sharpen his social skills.

It might also benefit you to research an organization called NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( This group, which has been in existence for 45 years, will give you the opportunity to meet other families who are dealing with a loved one who has a mental illness. NAMI offers support groups and literature on various topics involving the emotional support of someone who is mentally ill. It also helps to create public policy benefiting people with mental challenges.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter’s marriage is falling apart. Her husband has not worked during their six-year marriage. He drinks and uses tobacco to mask what I believe are depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. They have two young children, and my daughter cannot get through to him.

I’d like to contact his mother and express to her that until he gets some kind of professional help to deal with his problems, nothing will change. I want him and their marriage to be a success. My daughter and grandchildren deserve it. I don’t want to cause problems with his family, but until they face the facts, this marriage is doomed. Would I be overstepping by contacting his family? — PROACTIVE MOTHER IN THE WEST

DEAR MOTHER: Did all of this start when your son-in-law married your daughter, or did he have emotional problems before? Not knowing him, I can’t guess whether he needs a psychotherapist or an alcohol intervention. One thing is certain: Until all of this is brought out into the open, nothing will change.

In-laws ARE allowed to speak with each other. I don’t think it would be overstepping to express to his mother how worried you are about her son’s drinking and his inability to hold a job. But I’d clear it with your daughter first.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds). to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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