DEAR ABBY: My wife, "Jan," is having problems related to my late wife, "Ellen." Ellen and I were married 31 years. We built a business together and raised three sons. Obviously, I have a lifetime of memories associated with her. I admit that I still grieve, but I have tried to move on.
I am forbidden to mention Ellen's name around Jan. She says five years should be long enough to "forget." When we married two years ago, she moved into my home because it was bigger and closer to my business than hers. Jan now says she has no "place" in this house, although we moved most of her furniture in and sold mine.
Abby, Jan won't let me have a photo of Ellen, even in a drawer. I had to buy her a second piano because she refused to play the one that Ellen had played on, nor will she consider a certain make of car to replace hers because Ellen drove one.
She says she feels like "the other woman" in our marriage. It's not a threesome, and I'm not trying to mold her into my first wife. Did I make a mistake marrying just three years after my wife died? Am I inconsiderate of Jan's feelings, or is she being unreasonable? -- REMARRIED TEXAN
DEAR TEXAN: It's not unusual for a second wife who moves into an existing home to want to "sterilize" the interior so she can make it her own. However, I agree that Jan's reaction is extreme. Obviously, you married a woman with serious insecurities. Her insistence that the name of the mother of your children not be mentioned, or a photo of her kept -- even in a drawer -- is unrealistic and heavy-handed.
If you made a "mistake" it may have been in marrying while you were still grieving. Because you and Jan are at odds, I strongly advise scheduling some sessions with a marriage counselor.
DEAR ABBY: I was laid off recently and my husband does not make much money. We have lived within our means, but due to a recent rash of bad luck, necessary home repairs, kids' braces and medical bills, I don't know what to do.
My parents are not helping us in this time of need, and I am becoming resentful. They are elderly and we are always helping them -- cutting grass, painting, driving them to family get-togethers and doctor's appointments. These are things they would have to pay someone else for, but we do for free.
I want to say, "I need your help now, not an inheritance down the road." I have no siblings nearby and I know my parents' care will eventually fall to me, putting even more stress on my situation. Am I wrong to feel resentful, knowing they can afford to help us out but don't? -- DUTIFUL DAUGHTER IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR DUTIFUL DAUGHTER: Before you allow your resentment to build any further, have a talk with your parents. Have you asked them for help and been refused? Do you know all the details of their finances, and whether their savings are earning enough for them to live and still give you the help you're looking for? If you haven't already done so, start a dialogue with them -- without a chip on your shoulder or expectations about what they "should" do.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $12 (U.S. funds)
to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)