04/03/2005DEAR ABBY: I am 33 and married 10 years with two children, 8 and 10. I earn enough so my wife, "Jenny," doesn't have to work. My problem is Jenny, our children, my parents and all of my friends have forgotten that I exist.
I have asked Jenny and the kids hundreds of times to call me during the day, but they never do. On weekends, the only time they come near me is if they want something. When I leave for work, nobody says goodbye. When I return home, nobody even bothers to say hello.
I started keeping track. The last time my parents called to speak to me personally was almost a year ago. My mother calls and speaks to Jenny at least twice a week. When I answer the phone, all she says is, "Hi, it's your mother. Is Jenny there?" The same goes for my friends. I used to call them a couple of times a month. Then I realized they never called me, so I stopped calling. It's been a few years since I have spoken to any of them.
Last Thanksgiving, we invited our entire family of 25 to come to our house. Not one person other than Jenny struck up a conversation with me. But three weeks before Christmas, Jenny handed me a Christmas list for her, the children, her parents and all her siblings.
It has reached the point that I want to pack up and leave everyone behind and start over. I have never done anything to cause this. Please tell me what to do. -- THE INVISIBLE MAN IN ANAHEIM
DEAR MAN: What a sad situation. However, this didn't happen in a vacuum, nor did it happen overnight. Packing up and leaving will not solve your problem, but facing it and bringing it out into the open will. Please talk to your physician about your long-term depression and lack of self-esteem. Not only should you get professional counseling to help you with your personal issues, I strongly recommend family counseling for your wife, your children and your parents.
DEAR ABBY: We have a 60-year-old son who has been divorced for three years. He has four grown children and lives in another state.
Our son e-mailed us to say he wants to be buried, not cremated. He says that because we are his parents, we are responsible for his burial expenses if he should die before we do. He is not sick, Abby. He is living with a woman in her home, not working, and will soon be leaving for Russia to find a wife. He is angry with us for saying it is not our responsibility and that his children should be responsible for this. Are we right or is he? -- WORRIED PARENTS
DEAR WORRIED PARENTS: Because your son is acting like a child doesn't make him one. Since he wishes to be buried instead of cremated, he had better start saving for a cemetery plot and a casket. Your financial obligations to him ended when he became an adult four decades ago.
DEAR ABBY: My uncle died recently. He had a brother and a sister. When somebody asks me how many uncles I have, what should I say? Is it once an uncle always an uncle? What if they ask my mom? What should she say? -- UNSURE IN CANTON, GA.
DEAR UNSURE: If you're asked how many uncles you have, reply, "I have one uncle who is living, and one who is deceased." If your mother is asked how many brothers she has, she should answer that she had two brothers, but one is no longer living.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)