DEAR ABBY: My older brother and I are eight years apart. I am in my mid-20s, and he is in his early 30s.
Our personalities and outlook on life are completely opposite. We have different fathers but grew up in the same household, so naturally, we went to the same outings together until he was a teenager and we took different paths.
Looking at him now, I see he is an angry and burdened person compared to his early teenage years, even his 20s. He has always had two serious interests, science and poetry. Although he loved them while he attended school, he no longer has the same fire in his belly. In fact, there’s no pep in his step about anything, just frustration.
How can I lift his spirits without pressuring him? — LIGHTING THE FIRE
DEAR LIGHTING: Could it be your brother’s behavior is simply that of a man who has reached his 30s, has matured and is more of a realist than he was in his early teens?
Consider telling him you have noticed his personality has changed from when he was younger — that he seems angry, burdened and frustrated. Then LISTEN. He may or may not be depressed.
If, after hearing him out, you are still concerned, suggest he do something about what’s bothering him by talking with a counselor, preferably one who is licensed.
DEAR ABBY: When I was 70, I started taking drama classes twice a week (I still do). My wife was against it and insisted that because none of our friends or relatives were doing it, neither should I.
As a result, I suggested we live apart. I bought a small apartment and live alone. We see each other regularly, go to the cinema, the theater, visiting friends, vacation, etc.
Every now and then she raises the topic again, saying she feels “betrayed, offended, abandoned” and suggests we stop seeing each other for two to three days “so she can recover from the pain I inflict on her.”
I don’t think I am doing anything wrong here. I’m not cheating on her, and she knows that and doesn’t accuse me explicitly. I think she is jealous and distrustful because the women taking the classes are beautiful and not because of anything I have done. What do you think? — FRUSTRATED IN BULGARIA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: What I think, not having heard your wife’s side of it from her, is that your insight may be correct. However, before accepting the guilt trip she is laying on you, remember that since you moved out she hasn’t invited you to move back in.
DEAR ABBY: I just found out my married son had an affair, and the woman may be pregnant.
If she is, do we acknowledge the baby as our grandchild? And what’s the right thing to do if my son and his wife stay together? — COMPLICATED IN THE NORTH
DEAR COMPLICATED: If a paternity test proves the baby is your son’s, he will have a legal obligation to support the child until he or she is no longer a minor.
If your son and his wife remain together — and many couples do — his wife may prefer he have as little to do with the mother and child as possible. However, if you would like to be part of your grandchild’s life, it is your privilege to do so.
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 http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)