DEAR ABBY: We have been having a problem with a young neighbor couple in our rural area. They drop in to visit us about five evenings a week. They're nice people and good neighbors, so we don't want to offend them, but what would be a diplomatic way to tell them we don't want company that often?
The husband gets home from work at 4:30 p.m. every day and his wife always has dinner on the table when he walks in the door. My husband is 62. He works hard 10 to 12 hours a day and returns home anywhere between 5 and 7 p.m. So it's not possible for me to have dinner ready and waiting. Our idea of a pleasant evening is eating dinner, watching an hour or two of TV, and going to bed about 9 p.m.
My husband has to drive by these neighbors' house on his way home, so they know when he gets here -- and they usually arrive shortly thereafter. I feel very uncomfortable cooking a meal and eating with non-eating company in my kitchen, so I always put dinner preparation aside and visit with them for an hour or two. It's not unusual for us to wind up having dinner at 9 p.m. Sometimes they stay so long my husband and I are too tired to even bother.
We have about had it. How can we regain our privacy but remain friends? -- MISSING DINNER IN MISSOURI
DEAR MISSING DINNER: You and your husband have been such good neighbors that you have made yourselves prisoners in your own home. The next time the couple arrives at your door at dinnertime, in a pleasant tone, say, "John just got home from work and he's tired and hungry. Please excuse us while we have dinner. We plan to retire early. And in the future, don't just drop by -- please wait until we call you."
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ted," and I have been married for four years and have a 3-year-old son. Before we were married we talked about having at least two children.
After our son was born, Ted went through what he believes was postpartum depression. He wasn't prepared for the reality of having a baby, and it was hard on him. To his credit, he got through it and has been a fantastic father to our son.
He now says he doesn't want any more children. We are financially stable, but Ted says it isn't the money. He just doesn't want to go through it again.
Abby, I can't imagine not having one more child. I know I can't force him to change his mind, but I'm afraid I will resent him for denying me something I want so badly, especially since we had agreed ahead of time.
I feel there is no compromising on this. Either way, one of us is going to be miserable. I cry all the time and don't know how to move on. Can you help? -- DREAMING OF TWO IN TACOMA, WASH.
DEAR DREAMING OF TWO: I wish I could, but not knowing the cause of your husband's anxiety and aversion to having another child, I'm at a disadvantage. You should both talk this out with a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I hope you'll do it before you become further depressed because your current mental state may adversely affect your ability to parent the child you have.
CONFIDENTIAL TO "FEELING OLD AT 45": Old age doesn't have to be lonely. It's what you choose to make it. Reflect on the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's comment on aging: "I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110 -- shot by a jealous husband!"
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