DEAR ABBY: I gave birth to my fourth child a few months ago. (My oldest is 5.) I am now being pressured by my in-laws, who live in another state, to visit. They expect me to pack up the six of us and drive three hours to a house that is not child-friendly.
I have tried to be as accommodating as possible, and have traveled as much as I could with pregnancies and newborns to deal with. I am just not up to it this time. Would it be unreasonable of me to ask for a year's reprieve?
I would gladly throw open my doors to any and all who would like to visit and see the grandchildren, but traveling has become too much for me. I just can't go anywhere at this time. Why won't people understand? Why must I be constantly burdened with the guilt of disappointing others?
Can't they see that for me, traveling is no longer a "diversion" but a cumbersome undertaking? Or am I the one being difficult? -- GUILT-RIDDEN IN MARYLAND
DEAR GUILT-RIDDEN: Sometimes people become so used to the status quo that they overlook the reality that circumstances change. The time has come for you to quit trying so hard to be a people-pleaser. Tell your in-laws they are welcome to visit at a time of their choosing, but that with the arrival of your fourth child under the age of 6, travel has become too much for you.
And please do not feel guilty for speaking up. Your husband should support you on this -- unless he is willing to do his share of the packing, the driving and entertaining the children while they are en route.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a wonderful man for a year. We love each other -- no question about that -- but when I tell him I'm IN love with him, he never responds. He says he doesn't know what that means.
He asked me to explain the difference between loving someone and being in love. He says it doesn't make sense to him. Please help me explain to him what it means to be in love. I need to know that he's in love with me, not that he just loves me. -- IN LOVE IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR IN LOVE: If you have to explain to this wonderful man what it means to be in love, then I'm sorry to be the one to tell you he may not BE in love with you. While it's possible for a man or woman to "love" many people (and cats, and pizza and shiny cars), when someone is IN love, then only the object of that emotion will satisfy him or her. There is nothing unsure or doubtful about it, and no substitute will suffice.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I frequently receive birthday cards, Christmas cards and other mail that has been misaddressed. Today a thank-you note from "Carrie" to "Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Murphy" arrived at our address. Our name is Smith, and we have no idea who the Murphys are. Again, there was no return address to let the sender know the address was incorrect.
I do open these mailings, hoping there will be an address on the inside. When I return them to the post office, they just wind up in the dead-letter file.
Please remind your readers to put return addresses on their correspondence. -- RETURN TO SENDER, CATASAUQUA, PA.
DEAR MRS. SMITH: I'm pleased to pass the word along. However, you should not open mail that is addressed to someone else because to do so is against the law. The envelope should be marked "addressee unknown" and returned to the post office or to your mail carrier.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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