DEAR ABBY: My childhood was difficult. My mother was a bitter, unforgiving, jealous woman. My father traveled a lot for his business and just tolerated my mother when he was home. I decided to never have children to bring into this family.
When I first met Dave -- my husband of 10 years -- I told him my feelings. He said it was fine with him -- he never had a strong desire to be a father. Until recently, our marriage has been a happy one.
After constant nagging by my mother about "When are you going to give me grandkids?" I lied and said that Dave had a low sperm count and we wouldn't be having any. Now Dave is no longer invited to their home for monthly Sunday dinners.
Mother is suggesting I divorce Dave and marry "someone who can give her grandchildren." Dave says that because he is "uninvited" I shouldn't go either. My father sides with my mother and says she's a lonely person. He says he will change his will if I upset Mom by not visiting.
Abby, this has caused a real strain on our marriage. Please help. -- NOBODY'S MAMA IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR NOBODY'S MAMA: I'll try. The success of a marriage is not measured by the ability to produce grandchildren. If you hadn't lied to your mother, she wouldn't be blaming your husband for the fact that she doesn't have any. Tell her the real reason why you won't be having children, and how she influenced that decision. Her treatment of your husband and her meddling in your marriage are outrageous.
Tell your father to keep his money, and if your mother is "lonely" it's his job to fill her empty hours. If you allow your parents to continue to manipulate you, you will find yourself alone.
DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Nancy," is wonderful, generous and kind to everyone except her husband, "Ted." She belittles, yells and embarrasses him constantly.
Nancy has suggested that my boyfriend and I take a vacation with them, but I can't stand hearing her constant criticism. Just having dinner with them is painful enough.
Ted is a nice guy who tries hard to please Nancy, but he can't seem to do anything right in her eyes. Is there anything I can do or say to Nancy without offending her or sticking my nose where it doesn't belong? -- EMBARRASSED IN VIRGINIA
DEAR EMBARRASSED: As I see it, you have two choices. Keep dodging your friend's efforts to arrange a joint vacation, which will wear thin after a while. Or, have a frank chat with her. Tell her -- as gently as possible -- that she may not realize how uncomfortable she makes others when they must witness her constant bickering with her husband, and until they mend fences, you and your boyfriend will be unavailable for vacations.
DEAR ABBY: An old friend I'll call "Bud" used to take my ex-husband and me out for dinner and drinks. About 15 years ago, he met a woman. She moved in with him and then they got married. They have been married a long time now and I hardly get to see or talk to Bud.
I am now divorced. I have always had "feelings" for this man, and I want what Bud's wife has: She has a new car, a beautiful home, he has a new truck, they both work and seem to have everything.
I don't love Bud, but I know him from way back and I want to break them up. Can you give me any advice on how to? -- LOSING OUT IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.
DEAR LOSING OUT: You must not be a frequent reader of my column. In a case like this, I think I'll take a pass.