DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Ted" for 15 years. We have three school-age children. My husband is extremely narcissistic and passive-aggressive. During our entire relationship, he has been controlling and manipulative, as well as emotionally, economically and sexually abusive. I have remained in the marriage this long because I thought keeping the family intact was the right thing to do for my children. (Ted doesn't abuse them. I am his only victim.)
Through counseling I have realized that living in the atmosphere of a loveless, abusive marriage can be as detrimental for kids as a breakup would be. I will soon be filing for divorce.
My dilemma: Because Ted is very good at projecting a "good guy" image, I'm sure that people won't believe he is abusive. Should I be open about the reason for the divorce and be accused of lying? We live in Ted's hometown, a small, rural community. I don't know if I can live with the stigma of having accused a "nice guy" of such a thing. On the other hand, I don't want the abuse to be a "dirty little secret." What do women do in situations like this? -- NO VISIBLE WOUNDS
DEAR NO VISIBLE WOUNDS: They "confide" their problems -- with specific examples -- to a couple of their closest girlfriends. The truth will spread like wildfire.
DEAR ABBY: I am an 18-year-old male. When I was 15, I met a girl on the Internet. We talked pretty often, visited each other and had a lot in common. I fell in love with her, as much as a teenager can love someone. Eventually we hit some bumps in the relationship and she broke up with me. We have rarely spoken since.
Abby, even though it was a teenage relationship and it was over long ago, it still hurts. Is this normal? Could it be that I didn't get closure because we hardly talked afterward? It doesn't seem like it should still affect me as much as it does. I lack confidence when it comes to romance now. -- UNCERTAIN TEEN IN BEAVERTON, ORE.
DEAR UNCERTAIN TEEN: The problem with teen romances isn't that the people involved don't fall in love -- hard -- it's that they are growing so fast in so many different directions that the relationship is hard to maintain. That's probably what happened to your romance. And yes, it hurts, usually until you find yourself involved in another one. I'll tell you a secret: MOST people lack confidence when it comes to romance. But lasting love usually grows out of meaningful friendship. So open yourself up and you may be pleasantly surprised by how little time it takes.
DEAR ABBY: I work in a doctor's office. One of our patients makes a big scene if we do not address him by his title -- "Reverend Smith." He has to tell everyone within earshot that he went to school for eight years to get that title. He insists that, out of respect, we should address him as such.
Abby, this man is not MY reverend. So far, I have avoided calling him this. Am I being disrespectful, or is he being pompous? -- UNIMPRESSED IN LOUISVILLE
DEAR UNIMPRESSED: You are not only being disrespectful, but also passive-aggressive. Because this patient has made clear that he prefers to be addressed by the title he has earned, you should use it.
CONFIDENTIAL TO MY READERS: Happy Fourth of July, everyone!
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)