DEAR ABBY: I am a single woman who raised three kids on one average income. They are all grown and on their own now. I still save and have a tight budget, but now I can spend some money on travel. I have opportunities to travel with friends and do it as often as I can afford.
The problem is my brother-in-law and sister love to tease, and they tell everyone that I'm "the rich sister." Abby, I am far from rich. I have asked them both to stop and told them their teasing hurts my feelings -- that I simply choose to spend my money differently than they do.
Our relationship has now become very strained. I have only one sister and would like to be close to her, but I can't laugh off their teasing any longer. -- HURT TRAVELER
DEAR HURT TRAVELER: When people persist in doing -- or saying -- something after being told it's hurtful, one has to wonder if it's not about humor at all. I suspect that your sister and her husband are somewhat jealous over the friendships you have and the adventures you are enjoying.
You might be subjected to this less if you become more close-mouthed about what you're doing and where you're going. Give it a try. But if the "teasing" continues, tell "Sissy" she's going to be seeing a lot less of you and then follow through.
DEAR ABBY: I've been with my second husband for almost five years, married for two. After a year, we became more like roommates than spouses. At one point I caught him kissing a mutual friend in our bathroom. When I confronted them, they assured me it was innocent. Her husband has now confirmed his suspicions with me that something was going on, but there was never any solid proof.
My husband enjoys my company, but the lack of affection and my continued suspicion are affecting my self-esteem. The other day I asked him why he married me, and he answered because I was "nice." He refuses to go to counseling and said he doesn't want a divorce.
I feel like an idiot, but I just don't want to leave. What is wrong with me? What should I do? -- IN LIMBO IN WASHINGTON
DEAR IN LIMBO: You will find the answers you need as soon as you decide that, regardless of whether your husband is willing to go to counseling, it's time for you to go. Having already caught him in a compromising position, you have every right to be suspicious. There's nothing wrong with you -- except perhaps that you are too "nice."
You are going to have to decide if living like brother and sister is an arrangement you are willing to live with forever because the relationship you have described isn't a normal marriage, and the longer it continues, the worse you will feel about yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I would like to know why people say, "Oh, you have a new hairdo," and then never say if it is good or bad. Or, "You have new curtains or new flooring," and then never say another word. Why do they just say nothing? -- CURIOUS IN COLORADO
DEAR CURIOUS: Perhaps because people often notice change before making up their minds whether they think it's positive or negative, and they are speaking to you without a filter.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)