DEAR ABBY: Please tell me if I'm being petty. We do pretty much whatever and go wherever my husband, "Al," wants. When he lost four family members in two years, I was at his side night and day, being supportive in every way I could. We go only to sporting events because that's what he likes. If I mention I'd like to go to a concert, a play or a movie, Al tells me to ask my sister or a girlfriend to go with me.
Recently, two things happened that cut me to the core. First, my mother died. Al provided me no support at all. As I was packing to leave -- my parents live several hundred miles away -- he announced that he wasn't going with me. I made the long drive alone. Next was a major anniversary. Al told me he was planning a "big surprise" for me, a weekend at a hotel with dinner at a swanky restaurant -- the whole works. When we arrived, so did several of his buddies. It "just so happened" a big game was going on in the same city and they had tickets -- including one for Al. He canceled our dinner reservations and left with his friends. I spent our anniversary alone at the hotel.
Abby, I love my husband, but I no longer like him very much. He can't seem to understand that there is anything wrong, no matter how much I try to explain it to him. I'm torn between keeping my mouth shut and staying, or leaving. We're both in our 50s. I'd have a rough time, but sadly, I don't think he'd miss me. -- CRUSHED IN LEWISVILLE, TEXAS
DEAR CRUSHED: You have my sympathy. That you were emotionally abandoned upon the death of a parent was unconscionable. And when your husband promised a big anniversary surprise, the cruel one he delivered was certainly not the kind of "surprise" anyone would normally expect.
However, perhaps you should examine your own role in creating this "monster" to whom you are now married. Was he this way during your courtship? If so, why did you marry him? If it happened only after the wedding, why did you tolerate it so passively that he never learned a happy marriage requires compromise?
Whether you decide to stay or go, it's time you got some assertiveness training, because if you don't, this pattern will only repeat itself. Would he miss you if you left? Sometimes people don't realize they have a good thing until it's gone. But more important, would you miss him? Ask yourself, "Am I better off with him or without him?" The solution to this problem lies in the answer to that question.
DEAR ABBY: My friend -- I'll call her "Dina" -- has a difficult time getting pregnant. All the tests she had done came back normal. They can't find anything wrong with her, but she can't conceive. Dina does not want to adopt. She loves kids, but she wants one of her own.
It is very difficult to tell her to relax and take it easy. I tried telling her that, but she keeps getting frustrated all the time, and now it's affecting her sex life and her marriage. Any ideas? -- CAREFREE IN SEASIDE, CALIF
DEAR CAREFREE: Your friend's problem is more common than you may think. Telling her to "relax and take it easy" was the wrong thing to do, however well-meant. She is hurting, and every monthly cycle that goes by is a reminder. Much as you might like to, you can't make the situation "better."
My advice to you is to suggest that Dina and her husband talk with a fertility specialist, and possibly a psychotherapist, to help her deal with her pain, frustration, disappointment and anger.
CONFIDENTIAL TO MY ASIAN READERS: Happy Chinese New Year, as you welcome the Year of the Dog.
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