DEAR ABBY: Last Friday was my birthday. My co-workers threw me a surprise party, complete with cake, singing, a card signed by everyone in the office, and a beautiful bouquet of roses and orchids.
That night, when I told my boyfriend, "Rodney," about it, he blew up and talked nonstop about how no one ever does "nice stuff" for him. Then he said he had completely forgotten my birthday -- and even worse, he tried to pick a fight.
When I shared this with my mother, she told me that Rod's behavior could be considered emotional and verbal abuse. He has always gotten angry over little things, and is quick to complain about what he "doesn't have and never will." I've heard all the stories about how rough he had it growing up. I, on the other hand, have pleasant childhood memories and a positive outlook on life.
The next day Rod apologized. He said his outburst was because he was mad at himself for forgetting my birthday and embarrassed that other people did things for me that he should have done. Should I accept his apology and move on -- or am I seeing signs of a relationship doomed to fail? We've been together for three years, and I'm growing tired of his outbursts. -- DISSATISFIED WITH MY GUY IN EAST LOS ANGELES
DEAR DISSATISFIED: If your birthday was yet another example of Rodney's volatility and negativity, it's time to accept the fact that he doesn't make you happy -- and probably never will. Your signature says it all. Consider this: The best belated birthday present you can give yourself is your freedom and the chance to move on.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Ray" for nine years. We have three children under 7. For a couple of years, I have noticed money missing from our bank account. Each time I asked Ray about it, he'd always have an excuse, saying, "I bought tools," etc.
A week ago, I noticed an unusually large withdrawal. When I confronted my husband, he finally told me the truth. Ray confessed that he's been going to massage parlors and prostitutes for the last two years -- and he is an admitted sex addict. Abby, I am devastated. His confession rocked my world.
I ordered Ray to get out. Now, one week later, I have been to counseling and he has agreed to go. What I am asking is this: Have you ever heard of "sex addiction," and can it be cured? I love my husband and want to give this marriage a chance, but I'm terrified he will stray again. -- NO NAME, CITY OR STATE
DEAR NO NAME: I have known about sex addiction for decades, when a member of Sexaholics Anonymous came to my office with literature about the problem. The organization is well established and has chapters all across the United States -- and in 16 countries -- and its program is based on the AA 12-step model. It works for people who are truly motivated.
For more information about Sexaholics Anonymous, write: S.A., P.O. Box 111910, Nashville, Tenn. 37222-1910, or call: 615-331-6230. The Web site is www.sa.org, and the e-mail address is: saico(at)sa.org.
P.S.: If you haven't already done so, see your physician about being screened for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600