DEAR ABBY: My parents recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary. As their gift I decided to write "A Collection of Life Lessons and Stories as Seen Through the Eyes of Their Daughter" to honor them and everything they have taught me. My brother proofread it for me, and told me several times how impressed he was with the content and that he loved the idea. His fiancee was also moved and expressed her approval. They even asked for their own copy.
When I presented it to my parents, they were a bit confused. I tried to explain, then asked them to just read it, hoping they would understand how much I love, respect and cherish them. Dad read it that night and simply said, "Nice." Mom read it at work a few days later. Her comment, "It was a nice tribute." My brother asked them what their thoughts were; he was sure they would appreciate the effort that went into it. He seemed as confused by their cool reaction as I was.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but "nice" was not it! Not one thing has been mentioned about it since, and frankly, the whole thing has left me a bit hurt. Am I a spoiled brat looking for recognition, or am I justified in my hurt feelings? -- FEELING EMPTY IN FLORIDA
DEAR FEELING EMPTY: A gift such as the one you have described must have taken much time and effort, so it's not surprising that you are hurt and disappointed that your parents "ho-hummed" it. The time may have come to ask yourself if your past efforts to please them, or to excel, were greeted in a similarly withholding manner, because it's a technique that some people use to control others.
I wouldn't blame you if in the future, you remembered your parents' anniversaries with something less personal –- a "nice card," a token gift, or even an epilogue for the book titled "More Life Lessons My Parents Taught Me." I'm sure something will come to mind.
DEAR ABBY: I married "Jake" -- a good man -- but I am very unhappy. We became engaged in late 2004 while my father was dying of cancer. We hoped to be married before Daddy passed away, but we were too late.
Jake wanted us to be married immediately, but after the funeral and my first holiday season with Daddy gone, setting a wedding date or being excited about marrying was far from my mind. Jake and I argued, and eventually I gave in. We eloped a few weeks later.
Abby, I'm having a hard time dealing with being married. I feel trapped and horrified at finding myself in this position. I'm upset that Jake pushed to get married so soon. He now says he was afraid I was going to leave him -- and I'm upset that I didn't have the strength to say no.
I'm seeing a counselor for help, but I'd really like to know what you have to say. -- MISERABLE IN L.A.
DEAR MISERABLE: I hope you will continue seeing your counselor because you need more help than "one dose" in an advice column. Your engagement took place at a time when the most significant male figure in your life was dying. Because of his own insecurities, Jake took advantage of the fact -- and of you. Your counselor can support you emotionally while you untangle yourself from this mess. Your problems didn't start overnight, and they will take a while to resolve.
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