DEAR ABBY: My husband travels a lot -- three to four days a week. Sometimes when he's intoxicated and we're having sex, he acts like he doesn't know who I am.
I asked him once, "Are you married?" He said, "No ..." Another time I asked, "Do you have a girlfriend?" and he said, "No, but you're fine ..." The next day he has no idea he said any of this. Should I be worried? -- WRONG ANSWER IN CHICAGO
DEAR WRONG ANSWER: Absolutely. You should be worried not only about the fact that your husband is probably having extracurricular sex, but also that he has a drinking problem so severe he doesn't always know who he's sleeping with. You should be worried that after a night of drinking he can't remember clearly the next day what he has said (or has possibly done).
If he won't admit he has a problem and seek help, you should contact Al-Anon (it's in your phone book, or find it online at www.al-anon.org). And you should schedule an appointment with your physician to be tested for STDs, because I'm worried he may have given you one -- or more.
DEAR ABBY: I moved from New Jersey to Florida 20 years ago, married my wife and started a family. My parents relocated here a few years later. When I asked if they would be living nearby, I was told, "No way! We raised our kids already." Hearing it felt hurtful.
As time has passed, they have made themselves available to a family who lives near them for baby-sitting and help running their business when the family is on vacation. We have asked my parents on several occasions if we could have some help watching our children, but they said they were too busy or it was too much to handle.
We feel we should take priority over "outsiders." But when we bring up the subject, it is met with strong opposition. We just feel like we're not good enough, and don't know how to answer our children when they ask about their grandparents. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- BEWILDERED IN FLORIDA
DEAR BEWILDERED: Your situation is sad, but my advice is to accept that you won't be getting any help from -- or becoming any closer to -- your parents. They may have refused your requests for help because they don't care for your spouse, or your children really are too much for them to handle. I'm sorry.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my 84-year-old mother in an accident. I called Mom's friends, many of whom are also elderly. Several of them talked on and on about their problems, their poor health, their spouses' poor health -- and one even went on and on about her hot water tank "blowing up"!
Would you please remind people that when they get a courtesy call from a grieving family member to please listen, say, "Thank you for calling to let me know," and to offer condolences for their loss. -- BEREAVED DAUGHTER, LIVONIA, N.Y.
DEAR BEREAVED DAUGHTER: Allow me to offer my condolences for the loss of your mother. I'm pleased to print your letter because not everyone knows how to handle a phone call such as you had to make. It's possible that the folks you called were either uncomfortable with the subject, and so they tried to deflect it by discussing what was going on in their lives -- or they have heard about death so often at their age that they have become accustomed to hearing such sad news. (As for the woman who mentioned her water heater -- I hope you were kind enough to refer her to a plumber.)
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)