DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married three years. We have a great relationship except for one problem: When "Chad" gets angry, he breaks things and punches holes in the walls. He eventually calms down and regains his composure, leaving broken dishes and cracked plaster.
This upsets my 9-year-old daughter. She was especially scared when Chad picked up our dog and flung him to the ground. She cried and wrote a prayer to God asking him to help her daddy.
I've told Chad he should attend anger control classes, but he says he doesn't need them. When Chad is himself, he adores my kids and they adore him. He is a far better father to my children than their natural father was.
Abby, how can I convince Chad to take the classes? I'm afraid if I push him he will walk out, leaving my kids without another father. -- WANTING PEACE AND QUIET IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR WANTING: You can't "convince" him. Your husband is the one who must realize that for the sake of his family he needs the anger control classes.
I am worried about your children's emotional health. When they see Chad violently throwing their dog to the ground, it's an implicit threat that he could do the same thing to them if they displease him. As a responsible parent, you must protect them from further intimidation. It's important that they feel secure in a safe environment.
Since Chad refuses to get help, I urge you to go to counseling yourself. It will help you to get your priorities in order and give you a more complete understanding of what you must do. Please don't wait.
DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law and close friend of 20 years died of breast cancer two months ago. "Jane" was only 43. Her husband, "Brad," seemed loving and supportive until the end. Since then, however, his behavior has changed dramatically.
Jane died on Tuesday. The following Sunday, Jane's daughter called and said Brad was getting rid of Jane's clothes and asked if we wanted any of them. The following Thursday, Brad had a vasectomy. Two weeks after that, he brought his new 25-year-old girlfriend over to "meet the family"!
Abby, in the weeks since the funeral, Brad has been out on the town doing all the things Jane could never get him to do in the 20 years they were married. He and his girlfriend dine out in nice restaurants, go to ball games, you name it.
Brad acts like he's glad to be rid of Jane and all of her things. We are all appalled by his behavior. We are still grieving over Jane's death. We will never accept this woman into our lives. We realize that life goes on, but how soon is too soon? -- BOILING MAD OVER BRAD
DEAR BOILING MAD: There is no timetable for grief when the deceased died from a lingering illness. Hold on to the fact that Brad was a loving and supportive husband to Jane until the end -- when it counted. Try to be supportive. Brad may be assuaging his depression with this rebound romance, and it may not last. Try not to judge him harshly; the truth is, nobody knows what any marriage is like behind closed doors.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600