DEAR ABBY: I think I have an abuse problem. I have been with my boyfriend for a year, and already I feel like he is fed up with me. I don't want to lose him.
When I was younger, my father used to abuse me. It was years ago, but I feel like I might have gotten that trait from him. In addition, I have a tendency to smack my boyfriend on the arm when he's verbally abusing me. I just want it to stop.
I love this man and I feel terrible after I do it. I keep telling him I'm sorry and that I have the worst tendency to act on impulse. Please tell me how to stop because I cannot lose him. Any suggestions? -- SORRY IN KANSAS CITY, MO.
DEAR SORRY: If you want your relationship to improve, you must realize it will take effort not only on your part but also your boyfriend's. Neither of you handles anger or frustration appropriately. He shouldn't verbally abuse you if something bothers him. And you need to find other ways than hitting him to make him stop.
Couples counseling could help you communicate more effectively with each other. Many licensed mental health professionals offer it. Please don't wait.Read more in: Abuse | Love & Dating | Mental Health
DEAR ABBY: Our 5-year-old daughter, "Maya," was diagnosed with a severe peanut and tree nut allergy before she was 2. My parents have completely overhauled their house and have gone nut-free. My husband's parents, on the other hand, refuse to cooperate with Maya's diet restrictions when she visits.
I have tried talking to them, which in turn upsets my husband. He keeps making excuses for them, even though he demanded the school become nut-free to accommodate her.
We were scheduled to go to their house for an early Thanksgiving when they revealed that the house still wasn't safe for Maya to come to. My husband's solution was to go there for the weekend and leave us behind.
How can I get my in-laws to understand, and my husband to stand up for his daughter and me? -- LOOKING OUT FOR MAYA
DEAR LOOKING OUT FOR MAYA: You can't. Your husband is still under his parents' thumb. While he may love his parents, his first responsibility is to you and his children. Until he finds his backbone and realizes that, he will remain at his parents' beck and call. I'm glad you're looking out for your daughter because her father doesn't appear to be emotionally equipped to do it.Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety
DEAR ABBY: I can no longer go to funeral visitations. I have buried my parents, two sisters, four brothers and nine nieces and nephews. The number of loved ones I have lost, and the visitations and funerals I have had to attend, have been overwhelming. I can't face it anymore.
How do you suggest I avoid them? I am running out of excuses, and I'm tired of being a no-show. -- HATES FUNERALS IN ILLINOIS
DEAR HATES FUNERALS: People deal with loss in different ways, and you don't have to apologize for feeling the way you do. Stop making excuses and start telling the truth.
When you are notified about a death, offer your condolences, a donation, flowers, and explain that after 17 deaths in your family, you no longer attend funerals because it has become too much for you. That way, no one will think you don't care or wonder why you didn't show up.Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics
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.)