DEAR ABBY: My husband and 3 1/2-year-old daughter love movies. I'm happy they have something in common to keep them close, but it's just not something I'm into. Most of the time, if they're watching a movie, the volume will go up to simulate a theater, which makes me nervous. So I do the polite thing -– I find something to do in another room. I am always courteous about it; I never flip out or am rude. I respect their love of movies.
So why do I feel guilty when my husband comes to me within five minutes of my leaving the room to make sure I'm OK? It's as if he's always afraid I'm angry. No amount of reassurance has helped him believe me. Any suggestions? -- CAN'T STAND THE NOISE, ONTARIO, CALIF.
DEAR CAN'T STAND THE NOISE: Perhaps you feel guilty because you don't make watching the movie "family time" you can enjoy together. Or maybe your husband feels guilty for turning up the volume when he knows you're sensitive to loud noises.
How about popping in some earplugs and enjoying the party? You might find you enjoy the experience not because of the movie, but because of their pleasure in having you there. Alternatively, consider suggesting another activity where you can all interact and converse with each other instead of just sitting and being entertained.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together eight years. I have left him twice because of his constant obsession with me. When he comes from work, if I am on the computer he gets angry and says I don't love him or want to spend time with him. He doesn't even like our children to be around if we are home.
I recently found out that one of the most important people in my life is going to die. When I told my husband I would be out of town at the doctor's with this person, my husband's first comment was, "I guess this means you aren't coming home tonight."
If I go away -– even overnight –- he calls or pages me nonstop, develops stomach aches, etc. Abby, we can be lying in bed with his hand touching mine, and if my nose itches and I move my hand to scratch it, I get, "Fine, then!"
I don't know what to do, but I can't keep on living like this. He always says he'll change, and for a little while he does. Then the cycle starts all over again. He has suffocated my love for him. But if I leave, he will tell the children (10 and 7) that it's all my fault and he wants to be a family. I don't know what to do. Do you think this relationship is salvageable? -- CAN'T BREATHE IN TEXAS
DEAR CAN'T BREATHE: Not unless your husband realizes that he has a serious problem and is willing to get professional help for his extreme self-centeredness and insecurity.
DEAR ABBY: I was widowed a little over a year ago when my darling wife died of cancer. Because my wife is now deceased, are her siblings technically still my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law? They are wonderful people, and I still consider them to be part of my family. But are they? -- WONDERING IN PHOENIX
DEAR WONDERING: As long as your wife's sisters and brothers have a place in your heart, they will remain a part of your family. And if you choose to refer to them as in-laws, that's your privilege. I only hope that when you finally meet another special someone that they will welcome her into the family circle.
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