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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband Claimed His 'Space' and Now Wife Claims Hers

DEAR ABBY: I have been married 30 years to a man who is in his 60s. He is now retired and has too much time on his hands. When we married, he made it clear he liked his "space," often leaving home without saying goodbye or telling me where he was going.

He said he didn't need to explain his whereabouts, which was very difficult to deal with, but over time and many tears later, I learned to live with it. Later on, he accepted a high-paying job that took him away from our family for long periods. We would see each other on weekends or during school vacations. Over the years I have learned to entertain myself without intruding on his "space" or complaining when he was away for long periods.

Now that he isn't working and I am still working, he doesn't get my attention when he wants it. He says he feels ignored or unloved because I have continued to entertain myself by reading, playing bridge with my women friends, or occasionally working on weekends. My colleagues laugh at me when they hear me call my husband from work to ask if it's OK if I meet a client on the weekend. Sometimes I resent doing it, but it does keep the peace.

Meanwhile, my husband watches every sporting event on television, pouting or sulking when I don't join him.

Abby, I love this man, but now that he is home, he wants me to be constantly available. Is there a solution? -- BORED IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR BORED: For a man who wanted his "space," your husband appears to have become very dependent. It's flattering that he wants you by his side, but you are in danger of being smothered.

Remind him that when he married you, he demanded and was given his "space," and now you need yours. Encourage him to become physically active and to get involved with groups where his talents are needed. I'm sure there are many.

DEAR ABBY: I think you were way off base in your response to the lady who asked whether she should let her mother-in-law read the letter on computer disk that her father-in-law left to his 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter. If the man intended the letter to be read by everybody and his brother, he wouldn't have addressed it to his granddaughter.

In my opinion, this has nothing to do with "bringing peace to a grieving widow," but rather with a domineering woman sticking her nose where it should not be. Just because the letter is on a computer disk doesn't mean it's any less a letter than if it were written on paper and sealed in an envelope. By advocating allowing the mother-in-law to read that letter, you're also advocating denying that little girl her right to a precious gift given to her by her grandfather out of love because he knew he wouldn't be there to watch her grow up.

I'm just curious -- do you also advocate opening and rewrapping children's gifts before they receive them just to make some adult "feel better" about knowing what's in them? Remember that even the youngest members of our society deserve our respect, and one of the aspects of that is to respect their property. -- A READER WHO DISAGREES

DEAR READER: The child's grandmother is not "everybody and his brother," and I do not agree that allowing the grandmother to read the letter would diminish its value to the 2-year-old when she's finally old enough to appreciate it. However, intelligent minds can disagree, and I respect your opinion although it does not coincide with mine.

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