DEAR ABBY: A few days ago, my mom told me that if it wasn't for me, she and my dad would be divorced. She also said that the last few years with my dad have been terrible. I feel so guilty about this, knowing that I'm the reason my parents are unhappy.
I barely slept the night my mom told me this, but actually, it all makes sense. Now I know why my parents yell at me for no reason and why I get in trouble for no reason. Abby, please help me. How do I tell my mom how it made me feel? -- FEELS GUILTY IN GEORGIA
DEAR FEELS GUILTY: Your mother was wrong to say that you are the only reason she and your father have stayed married. They are together for reasons of their own that have little or nothing to do with you. You are not responsible for their unhappiness.
Your parents appear to be under a lot of pressure right now, which may be why their tempers are frayed. Before discussing this with your mother, it might help to talk about what happened with another adult relative you trust. However, if there is no one else, clip this letter, show it to your mother and tell her you wrote it.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old woman with a problem I'm not sure how to solve. I am 30 pounds overweight (I have been heavyset my whole life). My mom and I have been walking together for years, talking and enjoying each other's company as we go.
For a while, we were both losing weight consistently as a result of our walks. But since my parents' divorce three years ago, Mom has had to work full-time and isn't able to walk with me as often.
I want to continue walking to lose weight so I can be healthier and feel better about myself. But I feel I will be betraying my mom by not including her. Walking together has been our tradition, so I don't know how she'll feel if I continue to walk without her. What should I do? -- STEPPING LIGHTLY
DEAR STEPPING LIGHTLY: Get out there and continue walking -- with headphones or with friends. Exercise with your mother on weekends if she's available, and encourage her to do some walking on her own during her lunch hour. The only thing you should not do is quit walking because you feel guilty that you and your mother are now on different "paths."
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Daryl" for 10 years. He has never really hit the mark in what I want -- someone who is mature, stable, predictable and has an appropriate perspective on life. Daryl depends on the outside world to make him feel good about himself, and when that doesn't happen, he drinks and smokes pot.
I love exercise and the outdoors. He doesn't like hiking. In fact, he's afraid to challenge himself physically in even the smallest way.
I have to decide whether to stay and "make do" or move on. How do I make that choice? (I'm over 40.) -- LOOKING FOR BETTER, LAGUNA HILLS, CALIF.
DEAR LOOKING: Tell your husband what you have told me. That will give him a chance to shape up and at least try to be more of the man you thought you married. (I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and not assuming you felt you were compromising when you accepted his proposal.) Daryl deserves to spend his life with someone who values him for who he is, not someone who feels she's "making do." If it doesn't work, then you should both move on.
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