DEAR ABBY: Here's a new twist to what I believe is an old story. Four years ago, my husband (Jim) passed away, leaving me a widow. A year later, Jim's sister passed away, leaving her husband (John) a widower.
John and I were always good friends, and for three years now we have enjoyed an intimate, compatible friendship. Not unusual, for according to Jewish tradition, a surviving brother-in-law cared for the surviving sister-in-law.
My problem: In many of my anguished dreams, John's wife appears, reclaiming her relationship with John. She asks me what I'm doing in John's bed! While my husband Jim would be more understanding, John's wife wants what was once hers! We argue back and forth over our individual women's rights, while John sits back and says nothing. Eventually, I capitulate! Can you tell me why?
Am I a female milksop? Does being 78 have anything to do with it? How can I dream myself out of this? -- LADY IN L.A.
DEAR LADY: You can't, so let's look at this with our eyes wide open. As much as you enjoy the relationship with your former brother-in-law, I suspect you unconsciously feel some guilt about it. You know his wife wouldn't approve. And because he hasn't made a formal commitment to you, in a sense he still belongs to her. ("He just sits there and says nothing.") I find it interesting that at the end of the dream you "capitulate." Perhaps deep down you feel he will always be hers and never yours.
Instead of trying to "dream" your way out of it, have a talk with John and describe the dream in detail. Then ask him if the relationship is going anywhere. The dream is less important than what's going on in the clear light of day.
DEAR ABBY: I have been working full-time since I was 18. I am now 35. I just left my job as a recruiter where I worked for three years, and have been doing some administrative temp jobs. My problem is nothing seems to excite or fulfill me anymore. I'm not afraid to work hard, but I'm not sure of what kind of work I want to do now.
I have done many different things in the past. I have had my own computer service business, done administrative assisting, been a recruiter. Is something wrong with me? I feel lost right now because I can't pinpoint what I want to do next.
My husband is very supportive. We can survive on his salary, but I have to do something. We have no children yet. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- CHRISTIE IN SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO
DEAR CHRISTIE: There is nothing wrong with you, so stop worrying. Career counseling and testing to discover untapped interests and aptitudes could be very helpful. Many colleges and universities offer such programs. Also, since you are not under pressure economically, consider doing some volunteer work to widen your interests, or taking some adult education classes.
Please let me hear from you in six months. I predict you'll be doing something you enjoy.
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