DEAR ABBY: Many women like surprises. Most men don't. My wife can't understand that. She recently "surprised" me by informing me she had made non-refundable arrangements for us to visit a foreign country. She said I had once mentioned that I'd like to see it. I have no recollection of saying so, but I suppose it's possible.
Abby, I am physically barely able to endure such travel. My balance is bad and walking is extremely painful for my legs and hips. I wish she would have discussed her plan with me in advance. It's possible she wanted very much to go and suspected I'd tell her it would be unwise for me to do it.
Now that we're locked in, I'll go. But if it becomes too arduous, I'll tell her that we're going to have to leave the group and return home immediately. Perhaps that would help her understand that she should talk to me about a plan that includes me before implementing it. Abby, can you comment? -- GOT AN UNWELCOME SURPRISE
DEAR SURPRISE: What your wife did was wrong; she's well aware of your physical limitations. Foreign travel isn't cheap. Before laying out sizable chunks of money, most couples discuss the expense. I think your method of handling the situation is a good one, particularly if no accommodations can be made for your disability by the company arranging the trip.
P.S. I'm advising you to get travel insurance well in advance.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in love with a beautiful woman. She's divorced with two kids, 15 and 17. I believe the 15-year-old boy is feeling threatened by my presence. He has become very "clingy" to his mother and tries to get between us.
I love both of her kids and treat them like my own. I know it's a delicate situation and I want to do the right thing. The disrespect he shows me is becoming an issue, and I know his mother won't do anything about it. I have mentioned it a few times and nothing has changed.
I know she would be crushed if I ended this relationship, because recently she asked me to move in by Christmas. Marriage has been discussed prior to or shortly thereafter. Please help. -- DISRESPECTED IN OHIO
DEAR DISRESPECTED: Do not move in with this woman unless she first agrees to premarital counseling with you to ensure that you're both on the same page regarding parenting, and then family counseling with her children. As much as you care about them, you are not their parent. Because your ladyfriend appears to ignore problems when they arise, without counseling nothing will change. Be warned.
DEAR ABBY: Our son and daughter-in-law have invited us for Thanksgiving in another state. We'll fly there with my husband's mother.
Recently my daughter-in-law mentioned that we may all (11 of us) be going to some sort of buffet instead of making the dinner at their home. We would also end up paying for the meal.
I would much rather cook for them than eat and pay for a Thanksgiving meal at a buffet or restaurant. How can we get this across to our son and daughter-in-law without hurting their feelings? -- NO BUFFET FOR US IN LEAVENWORTH, KAN.
DEAR NO BUFFET: How about saying it in plain English? Tell them you would be glad to prepare the dinner, and if your daughter-in-law would help you, the task wouldn't be onerous for either of you.
P.S. Unless the men are "all thumbs" in the kitchen, they could pitch in, too. Multigenerational rituals are the glue that keep a family together.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)