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by Abigail Van Buren

Words of Apology Are Not Part of Wife's Vocabulary

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 23 years. Not once in all those 23 years have I ever received an apology from her.

She spilled mustard on my shirt while she was reaching across a table. It was my fault for not handing her a napkin she was reaching for.

While we were playing racquetball she drilled me in the back with the ball and left a huge and painful welt. Again, nothing.

She charged $4,000 on a credit card and didn't tell me. She said it was "my fault" -- she was "getting back at me" for spending too much time at work. After talking and counseling, I still received no apology.

I'm not perfect, and we have other issues in the marriage, but I am at a loss as to why she won't apologize for anything -- even injuring me in an accident. She spins every argument so she can win. Why won't my wife say "I'm sorry"? -- HARASSED HUSBAND IN IDAHO

DEAR HUSBAND: I strongly suspect it's because she isn't sorry. What she is is angry and has a need to punish you. The safest way to do that for her is through an "accident."

More than needing an answer from me, what you need is insight from a licensed psychotherapist to help you understand not only why your wife acts out the way she does -- but also why you would continue to tolerate it for 23 years.

DEAR ABBY: At what point does a parent stop giving unsolicited advice? It is painful to watch my "child" repeatedly make choices that aren't in her best interest.

My daughter, "Alicia," is 43. When she inherited a considerable estate, I told her the windfall could make her quite comfortable in her old age. She agreed. After a year and a half I doubt she has much of her inheritance left.

Now that yet another live-in relationship has ended, I suggested that next time she find a man who is self-supporting. I also urged her to quit uprooting herself and her kids.

After years of weight issues, Alicia now has a new figure thanks to Lap-Band and plastic surgery. She let the boyfriend du jour select the size of her implants. Being of the strip club mentality, he chose DD. Abby, my daughter looks like two olives on a toothpick. I'm heartsick and can't help but wonder what my teenage grandchildren think. It's hard to watch a train wreck happen.

Although I am trying to keep my mouth shut, she tells me she "feels" my disapproval. I think it's her conscience that she's trying to ignore. Must I duct tape my mouth shut? -- DISAPPROVING MOM IN TEXAS

DEAR MOM: At this point, yes. Your daughter is an adult. She hasn't listened before and she's unlikely to do it now. Perhaps when her current romance ends, she'll be more receptive. But for now, keep mum, mom.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and a junior in high school. I was diagnosed with panic disorder and have recently started treatment. I have only told a few friends and family members that I'm seeing a therapist and am on medication.

What should I do if I have an anxiety attack or panic attack in class? Should I talk to the school nurse or counselor so I'll have a safe place to go? -- PANICKED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PANICKED: Yes, you should absolutely do that if it will lessen your level of anxiety. You should also inform your teachers. But before you do, ask your therapist to give you a note you can share with them.

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