DEAR ABBY: I have been married 21 years. I have a 17-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son. For the past year, my family life has been a living hell.
My wife and daughter refer to me –- and all men –- as "stupid." At first, I took it as a joke, but it has escalated to the point where I can't open my mouth without hearing, "You men are so stupid!" If I ask what's for dinner, it's, "Don't be so stupid. Look for yourself." If I ask the time, it's, "Men are so stupid. You don't even know how to tell time!"
My wife and daughter enjoy their "jokes" and even do "high-fives" to congratulate themselves on their cleverness. I have asked them to stop, but they say I am "too sensitive." I started keeping a diary of their remarks. I was told I was stupid 35 times in four weeks!
I love my wife, but I can't stay in this marriage if they continue to insult me. It is poisoning my relationship with my children. Before this, my daughter was a good kid. She is now a little monster with my wife's blessing. When I try to discuss this with my son, he shrugs it off. I fear what this is doing to him.
I suggested that we get counseling. My wife said no and told my daughter, who then accused me of being the "oppressor."
Abby, what should I do? –- STUCK, BUT NOT STUPID
DEAR STUCK: Your wife's behavior is angry and hostile. Her treatment of you is disrespectful and not funny. Worse, she's modeling that behavior for her daughter and undermining your relationship with your son.
Since your wife refuses to go with you to counseling, you must go alone. I guarantee that when you do, you'll gain enough insight to possibly face a difficult decision.
Please let me hear from you in six months. I care.
DEAR ABBY: I am a great-grandmother with a unique hobby. A large number of four-leaf clovers grow in my yard. I pick them and give them to people who are sick, or mail them to friends just to let them know I care.
I picked 14 of them and mailed them in a card to my favorite author, Stephen King, when he was injured. Most people seem to enjoy them, and I hope he did.
My friend says that people will think I'm strange or superstitious, but I think most of us like to know someone cares and is thinking of us.
I have never had anyone refuse a bouquet of four-leaf clovers, but maybe they are just being kind. Do you think I should stop sending them? –- CURIOUS IN ELWOOD, IND.
DEAR CURIOUS: Absolutely not. I'm sure that any person who receives a bouquet of four-leaf clovers would consider him- or herself lucky to know you.
P.S. Thank you for the ones you sent to me.
DEAR ABBY: Please tell me how many times it is necessary to say "God bless you" after someone sneezes continuously. Must you "bless" someone every time he or she sneezes, or is it OK to stop at one?
I work in an office full of sneezers -– allergy season is upon us –- and I'd really like to know. –- GETTING PESKY OVER POLLEN
DEAR GETTING PESKY: After the first sneeze, proclaim a blanket "God bless you." Once is enough.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
To order "How to Wite Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600