DEAR ABBY: I'm a happily married woman who has always valued my friendships. I feel fortunate to have about a dozen women friends I can talk to, have lunch with and enjoy girls' weekends with.
One of my longtime friends, "Cecily," is a widow. She's an attractive, intelligent, vibrant woman who complains to me that she is lonely and wants companionship. She has had several relationships since her husband's death, but none have led to marriage.
Not long ago, Cecily mentioned that I'm the last of her girlfriends -- the others have drifted away. I think I know the reason. Cecily is a poor listener and forcefully talks over whomever she's speaking with, which indicates that she's not really listening to the person but instead forming her next thought. She does it with me often, but realizing she has a need to be heard, I let her talk until she winds down.
I'm afraid that the people she wants to be close to lose interest in maintaining a friendship with her because of it. Should I share this with her? I believe it is affecting her life and has caused her to slip into a mild depression. -- FRIEND WHO CARES IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR FRIEND: Sometimes it takes a friend to tell a person a truth that he or she needs to hear. But before you do, first ask yourself: "Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind?" I'd say that in Cecily's case, your message qualifies on all three counts, so go ahead and speak up.
DEAR ABBY: I married "Kelli" less than a year ago. She's a great person, very positive and a hard worker. She is not someone I would have imagined myself with five years ago, but I'm almost 30 now, and I thought we'd grow together over time.
Before our wedding I was hit by the worst anxiety of my life. I began feeling that the marriage might be a huge mistake. Sleep became impossible. My mom asked if I wanted to call off the wedding, but I thought it was just pre-wedding jitters.
As I said, Kelli is a great person -- but my unease about whether I made a mistake is still with me. I'm also not sure if things will stay as pleasant as they are now.
More troubling is that Kelli wants to start having kids. I do not want to have children, be in a miserable marriage and end up divorced. I have been to counseling to work on my anxiety, but the thought of a child terrifies me.
Kelli has her heart set on having kids. If I tell her I don't want any, it will break her heart. If you have any advice, it would be appreciated. -- RIDDLED WITH ANXIETY
DEAR RIDDLED: Clearly you are not fully committed to your marriage. The only thing worse than not leveling with your wife about your feelings would be to let things continue as they are and for her to become pregnant.
Kelli will be very hurt when she hears the news, so be prepared. Your counselor can help you break it to her in the kindest way possible. Do not procrastinate. Your wife deserves a husband who will love her without reservation, and nowhere in your letter did you mention even once that you love her. The bottom line is in the long run you'll be doing her a favor.
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