DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Sam," and I have been married for 32 years, and all these years he has lied continually. It has gotten so bad that I cringe every time we're invited to family functions or get-togethers with friends. Sam uses these gatherings to be the star of the show, spilling out the most outrageous whoppers you can imagine.
My family knows when he's lying or exaggerating about something. They roll their eyes and nudge me to let me know they know. Sam fabricates the most outlandish stories and never owns up to anything he has done wrong. Instead he blames me or others for his actions. If I confront or challenge him, he gets defensive and says I'm "always" belittling or challenging him in front of others.
Abby, even though I still care for this man, I don't have the respect I wish I had for him. What can I do? -- DISENCHANTED IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT
DEAR DISENCHANTED: After 32 years, there is nothing you can do about it. Your husband has a personality problem -- probably related to insecurity -- that causes him to lie to get attention. It's pathetic, really. However, to embarrass him by pointing it out in front of others is cruel and unproductive. Until he's ready to admit to himself that he has damaged his credibility so badly that no one believes a word he says, nothing will change.
DEAR ABBY: My close friend "Kate" has just told me she's getting a divorce. She confided that she cheated on her husband, "Phil," and says she doesn't want to try to work on her marriage, even though they have a baby together. Kate says that Phil is a great father and he's not abusive -- she just doesn't love him anymore.
This came as a shock to me, and I'm not sure how to be supportive. When I divorced, my husband was the one who cheated and left me, so I know how Kate's husband feels. I know I should be sympathetic to her, but I don't know what to say. Can you help? -- TRYING NOT TO JUDGE
DEAR TRYING: Continue trying not to judge. It is understandable that you'd identify with Kate's husband since his position is so similar to what you experienced. If you know and like him, befriend him. I'm sure he could use a friend right now. However, before you do, ask Kate if she would mind.
As to your question about what to say to her, all you really need to do is acknowledge her announcement by saying, "I'm sorry to hear it. I hope you have given it careful consideration." Period.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 15. My father just started paying child support three years ago for my twin sister and me. He only pays a small amount each month, and he has never paid any medical or health bills for either of us in our lives.
Recently we found out he lied about his monthly salary so he wouldn't have to pay for us. I'm really hurt because I feel like he doesn't care about us. How do I cope? Help! -- INCREDIBLY HURT IN THE SOUTH
DEAR INCREDIBLY HURT: While I can understand your disappointment in your father's lack of character, please do not allow his failures to make you think less of yourself. His behavior shows that he doesn't care about anyone but himself. Now that you and your mother know he lied about his income, it's possible the child support he didn't pay can be collected retroactively. If your mother hasn't discussed this with an attorney, she should do it now.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)