DEAR ABBY: "Ralph" and I have been married a little over a year. It's the second marriage for both of us. We were both single for six years after our divorces, so we had time to become independent.
Ralph still spends his evenings and weekends the way he did when he was a bachelor. He stays in the garage and watches TV alone. We have talked about it, set up family time, and even bought the large-screen TV he wanted for the living room, but still he hides out in the garage. He comes in only to eat and use the bathroom.
I know Ralph loves me and our new family, but this is causing strain. I have two children from my last marriage, and the younger one feels deeply hurt because my husband spends no time with him. What can I do? I feel alone in this marriage. -- ALONE AND LONELY IN INDIANA
DEAR ALONE AND LONELY: You ARE alone in this marriage. If you married Ralph thinking you could change the way he acted as a bachelor, that you would have companionship and your children would have an attentive father, you may have married the wrong man. If Ralph was happy and at ease, he would not be hiding out in the garage.
Before this goes any further, you and he need to have another frank talk because the status quo is not fair to you or the children. If it doesn't work, then it's time for family counseling, if only so your children won't blame themselves for your husband's shortcomings.
However, I don't expect him to change and neither should you. This is the way he was before you married him, and a leopard doesn't change his spots.
DEAR ABBY: I have an issue with my husband and can't seem to get my point across. He refuses to wear a seat belt. He says it's uncomfortable, and he hates when he pulls it too quickly and it gets caught. I have asked him repeatedly to wear it, not only because he could get a ticket, but also for his own safety.
My car has an alarm on it, so if you don't buckle up, it beeps. He goes as far as buckling the belt behind him so it will stop. I have tried everything from explaining the safety hazards to telling him he can no longer drive my car if he can't drive safely. What can I do to make him buckle up? -- FRUSTRATED IN ALABAMA
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Seat belts save lives, and that's why seat belt laws were passed. Your husband is a grown man, presumably of sound mind. You can't "make" him do anything he doesn't want to do. You can, however, refuse to ride with him if he doesn't comply -- and that's what I'm recommending.
DEAR ABBY: My fiance insists upon asking our server's name if it is not offered when she approaches our table. I am insulted that he even cares. Personally, I do not want him asking for another woman's name in my presence. I find it rude.
He, on the other hand, thinks it's rude if the server does not introduce herself. Who is right? -- NAMELESS IN GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS
DEAR NAMELESS: In most of the better dining establishments it is a matter of policy that the server introduce him- or herself when a party is seated. If that doesn't happen, then it is perfectly acceptable -- and, indeed, advisable -- for the guest to ask the server's name. Doing so ensures that if something is needed at the table, the diner does not have to say "Hey, you" to get the server's attention.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)