DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been friends with another couple, "Bill" and "Emily," for 20 years. We usually have dinner together once every four to six weeks.
In the past, everyone enjoyed a cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner and nobody overdid it. But over the last year or so, it is clear that they have started drinking earlier in the day, before we arrive. They each consume multiple drinks while my wife and I are still on our first. Emily often is noticeably drunk within the first hour and excuses herself to go to bed while Bill continues drinking. Often dinner plans at their house or at a nearby restaurant must be canceled because of this behavior.
When they visit our home, Emily helps herself to several glasses of wine before dinner and then passes out in our guest room, while Bill sits on the couch rambling on and we speed up the cooking to get food on the table. When dinner is finished, we suggest it's time to call it a night. Our get-togethers are now over in less than two hours.
How do we tell these otherwise nice friends that they drink too much? -- UNWILLING BARTENDER IN ARIZONA
DEAR BARTENDER: The next time Bill and Emily come to your home for dinner, make sure your liquor is locked up and don't serve any. If you are asked about the omission, you and your wife should tell them that YOU have decided to "cut back" on your alcohol consumption because it will enable you to enjoy their company more. (I wish you could videotape their reaction.)
It will be interesting to see if you still enjoy their company when they are sober, and vice versa. If they take offense and decide to socialize with you less often, don't take it personally. Realize that alcohol now rules their lives.
I do not think you should try to perform an "intervention" because it doesn't appear you are close enough to them to do it with much success.
DEAR ABBY: I was married for 27 years before my divorce. The ending of my marriage was both painful and unexpected. I was in therapy throughout the divorce and for some time after.
Later I moved to another state so I would no longer have to risk running into him. But just when I think I have moved on, something is said or something happens that brings my pain and anger back to the surface.
I heard once that when one is in a serious relationship, that it can take twice as long to get over it. Is this the same for a marriage? Can I expect it to take 2 times 27 years before I am finally over my ex and my divorce? -- UNEXPECTED DIVORCE
DEAR U.D.: There is no set timetable for "getting over" a divorce. Much depends on the reasons for it. Some people hang onto their pain and anger for the rest of their lives. Others grow beyond the experience and are able to move on. They cultivate new friends and interests, and sometimes find a romance to replace the one that was lost. I predict you will move beyond your pain and anger when you are ready for another relationship.
DEAR READERS: In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we remember today: "To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough, and morality enough, to cut off the chain of hate."
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)