DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 12 years to a man who is an excellent provider, but not a loving husband. He works out of town every week and comes home on weekends.

When he's away he ignores my phone calls and won't answer any texts. If I do get him on the phone, he picks a fight with me for whatever reason -- maybe I breathed too hard on the phone -- and that's enough for him not to answer anymore that week. We have three children and he doesn't even communicate with them.

This has been going on for a few years. I love him, but I feel his attitude is belittling. It has reached the point that I'm afraid to say anything. I'm a loving wife and mother, and I feel I should be respected and treated like a wife and not a weekend fling. Please give me some advice as to what I should do. I'm at a loss for words. -- DISTRAUGHT IN TEXAS

DEAR DISTRAUGHT: Your husband appears to suffer from selective amnesia. When he's out of town, he "forgets" that he's married. It is in the best interests of you and your children to figure out what happened "a few years ago" that caused such a radical change in his behavior. You are right that you are not being treated the way a wife should be. That's why you should consider hiring a private detective to find out what's been going on. I am sure that once you understand, you will no longer be at a loss for words.

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DEAR ABBY: My uncle "Paul" died two weeks ago after a long illness. He and his daughter, "Nina," had a difficult relationship, and after an argument eight years ago she cut off all communication with him.

Uncle Paul developed the disease that led to his death after the estrangement. Nina's brothers and other family members begged her to relent many times -- to no avail. It was extremely painful for everyone.

When Nina saw her father's obituary in the newspaper, she decided to attend the funeral. Her brothers and Aunt "Joan" sent a message telling her that her attendance would be hurtful and asking her to stay away. She came anyway -- along with her husband, children, their spouses and babies my uncle -- and Aunt Joan -- had never seen. The rest of the family managed to shield Aunt Joan from them during the service, but Nina's presence was very upsetting.

Am I wrong in thinking she should have stayed away? -- GRIEVING COUSIN IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

DEAR GRIEVING: Funerals are intended to comfort the living as well as honor the dead. By coming and bringing her entire family after being asked to stay away, Nina did neither and instead poured salt in the wounds. No, you're not wrong and the matter was handled properly -- without creating a scene.

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DEAR ABBY: I find the "penny" stories I see in your column to be both amusing and interesting. Now I have one for you.

I was on a bus trip with our church group when I saw a penny on the floor. I picked it up and offered it to an older woman with the comment, "A penny for your thoughts." Her retort was, "You would be wanting change?"

Her response caught me off guard, and gave everyone a laugh.

Keep up the good work, Abby. -- F.R.C. FROM GREENVILLE, S.C.

DEAR F.R.C.: It gave me a laugh, too. Pennies may be worth less than they used to, but a smile can be worth its weight in gold.

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