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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 91-year-old reader with a story to tell. In 1958, I married a man every woman would have loved to have. He was one of a kind. I had two boys from a previous marriage, and this wonderful man adopted them.

In 1963, before homosexuality was understood or openly accepted, I discovered that my oldest son was gay. I didn't take it well because of the way I was raised. In fact, I came unglued. My husband took me in his arms and said, "Honey, he is no different today than he was yesterday."

The rest is a long story, but this wonderful man -- a stepfather -- gave acceptance to his son and taught it to me. His words helped me to value my own son as the person he is. If his words can help some other parent, I am passing them on. -- EVER GRATEFUL MOTHER, SANTA ROSA, CALIF.

DEAR GRATEFUL MOTHER: You married a wise and compassionate man, and I want to thank you for sharing an important message for other parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Sex & Gender | Family & Parenting

DEAR ABBY: I'm an alcoholic. My husband blames it for everything that goes wrong in our lives. Not invited to a coveted party? They must have heard what an ass I made of myself four years ago.

I love my husband and don't want to leave him. However, he is blind to the similarities to his overeating and smoking. I'm at my wit's end. He refuses to see, while pointing out to our friends that I'm not supposed to drink, that I could be as nasty as he is and say things like, "You're not supposed to smoke," or, "You're overweight and shouldn't eat that."

I'm sick of being humiliated and tired of feeling like I owe him something because he "overlooks" me being an alcoholic. How can I get him to see that these things are all addictions and hard to kick, and he should quit looking down his nose at me? -- HUMILIATED IN TEXAS

DEAR HUMILIATED: Your letter proves the truth of the saying that alcoholism is a "family disease." The more your husband draws attention to your alcohol problem, the less he is forced to confront his own addictions to food and tobacco, and it also serves as a distraction. It's comfortable for him, allows him to feel superior and benefits him because it makes him an object of sympathy. This is neither helpful nor healthy for either of you.

I have said many times that you cannot change another person. However, a licensed mental health professional may be able to help you understand why you tolerate your husband's behavior -- and might even be able to give you insight into why you drink the way you do.

Read more in: Addiction | Health & Safety | Marriage & Divorce | Mental Health