DEAR ABBY: For the past 25 years, my husband, "Don," has had his hair cut by a woman I'll call "Barber-Ella." She's slim, attractive and full of energy. Don has mentioned that she often pats him on the leg and kind of flirts with him.
We have been married 35 years, and I've never had a reason to mistrust him. Our life hasn't been a bed of roses. We have a 30-year-old disabled daughter who lives with us. I have rheumatoid arthritis, which causes me pain and saps my energy. The medication has made me gain weight in my belly and face, and I feel unattractive.
Barber-Ella seems to have a lot of influence on Don. She persuades him to buy certain products, and once talked him out of a medical procedure "because it went wrong for a friend." Recently he told me she has been telling him dirty jokes and using four-letter words in the telling. Don says, "She likes to see how red my ears get." Although she is married, I'm not convinced that's all she's up to.
I feel this woman's behavior is inappropriate. Does this have more to do with my own insecurities than with her? Why does she do this? Should I ask him to change stylists? Should I call her and ask when she'll be adding lap dances to her services?
I don't want to put Don on the defensive or make it seem like I don't trust him. Please give me your opinion because I'm losing perspective. -- REALLY UPSET IN ST. PAUL, MINN.
DEAR UPSET: Gladly, and here it is: Your husband has been Barber-Ella's client for 25 years. She probably flirts with him because she thinks he likes it. (Her other male clients may also find it flattering.) As to the jokes, she may tell them because she heard them from other clients, thinks they're funny and is trying to entertain him. If any of this posed a threat to you, your husband would not tell you about it.
I'm a strong believer in patterns of behavior. Unless your spouse is getting more haircuts than he needs and his time is unaccounted for, I don't think you have anything to worry about.
DEAR ABBY: I am the youngest of four girls. I share a room with my sister, "Noelle," who is the next-to-the-youngest. We fight a lot. Recently, during an argument, Noelle told me our oldest sister told her our parents only had me because Dad wanted to try "one more time" for a boy. She said Dad was disappointed that I was a girl and wished they hadn't had a fourth kid.
I don't know if this is true. My sister could have said it to be mean. It makes sense, though. I mean, what man wouldn't be hoping for a boy after three girls? It hurts me to think that I wasn't really wanted.
I love my dad, and I think he loves me, but I always did have the feeling that he was somehow disappointed in me and loved my older sisters more. I'm afraid to talk to him about it for fear of finding out that it's true. What should I do? -- HURT IN SACRAMENTO
DEAR HURT: If you're afraid to talk to your father, then you should tell your mother what Noelle said. It was nasty, calculated to hurt, and I'd be very surprised if there was any truth to it.
Let's look at it logically. If that were true, then it would apply to sister No. 2 and Noelle -- not just you. Not every man longs for a son. Some are very happy to be surrounded by women and the center of attention.
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