DEAR ABBY: Many of your published letters come from unhappy married women. Some of them seem unable to get objective advice that would make themselves and their marriages happier. I'm fortunate to be happily married (33 years) to a wonderful woman who has a clear perspective.
Three pearls of wisdom she could share:
1. Don't sulk because your husband can't read your mind. Trust him; he'd like to help. And listen to your tone as you point out how he can.
2. The way you talk about him to your friends is an expression of your fidelity. Talk about him honestly, but with respect. If you do, he'll admire and encourage your close friendships and take a sincere interest in your friends as people. If your MO is to grouse and complain about him, in his mind and heart he will feel you're abandoning him.
3. Be clear that while your husband might say he'd like to treat you like a queen, you're both better off being equals -- partners, side-by-side. In our marriage, there is no "better half." There are two halves.
It's amazing how much joy we have experienced during our years together, based on this simple foundation. My esteem for my wife only grows each year -- something that seems impossible, but then again, fantastic things usually do. -- PETER, A GRATEFUL HUSBAND
DEAR PETER: Thank you for sharing those words of wisdom because they apply to husbands as well as wives. There's a saying: The higher the pedestal, the longer the fall. Partners who treat each other as equals and with respect -- and the key word is "respect" -- usually have long-lasting and happy unions. Those who complain behind a spouse's back, who denigrate rather than elevate, do not make themselves look better or their marriages healthier. I'm glad you wrote.
DEAR ABBY: How do you deal with adult "children" who ignore issues about their health? My 30-something son had a root canal a few days ago. His face is swollen, he has lost sleep and is in pain. His wife has tried everything to get him to get it checked out, and she just called me in desperation.
Why does he do this? It isn't the first time she and others have begged him to take care of himself. She's pregnant and they have two other small kids. He has insurance, so it's not about money. It's just so stressful for those of us who love him. He works for himself and is a high-energy guy and a great dad. -- QUESTIONING MY SON'S SANITY
DEAR QUESTIONING: Some men feel that acknowledging pain is showing weakness. They think that if they just "gut it out" a while longer, things will get better. And while many of them do, many also don't.
Pick up the phone and tell your daughter-in-law to call the dentist who did the root canal and ask whether what her husband is experiencing is normal. And if the answer is that it's not, she should tell her husband that "the surgeon wants him to come in for a recheck" to be sure his wounds haven't become infected.