DEAR ABBY: I am a happily married man with one problem that doesn't go away. I convinced my wife, "Ellen," to move to Florida so we could be close to my family, but now she doesn't trust them because of an altercation she had with my mother. Ellen says Mom made negative comments about her and lied about it.
My intention was for everyone to come together as a family, but now I feel I must decide whether I can be a part of the family. If I do, my wife feels I am saying it's OK for my family to hurt her. If I don't, I'll feel I'm missing out on spending time with them. Ellen no longer wants anything to do with my family and wants them to apologize. It has been a rough four years being trapped in the middle of this ongoing feud.
My father and I have talked and tried to resolve things to no avail. How can I fix this once and for all? -- TORN UP IN TAMPA
DEAR TORN UP: YOU can't fix it. I don't know what your mom said about your wife, but it must have been a doozy. Your mother might be able to mend fences, if she were willing -- but she doesn't appear to be.
Look at it from your wife's perspective. She sacrificed a comfortable lifestyle so you could forge a closer relationship with your family. It's your job to side with your wife. She has been wronged and made to feel unwelcome. A licensed family counselor may be able to help all of you patch up the damaged relationship, but only if everyone involved agrees to bury the hatchet.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a faithful reader and Navy wife. My husband has been deployed for nearly a year, and I'm lucky he'll be home in time for Christmas. However, not all military spouses will be as fortunate.
I'm writing to ask a favor. Deployments are long and can be challenging. Being separated from your spouse during the holiday season is difficult. I have done many deployments and have experienced this myself. Please remind your readers to think about their military friends and include them in their holiday plans. If they do, I know it will be appreciated. Thanks, Abby. -- PROUD NAVY WIFE IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR PROUD WIFE: I'm glad to help. For many years my mother and I had a program, Operation Dear Abby, in which readers could send messages of support (and gifts) to active duty military members who were away from home during holiday time. Even after it was scaled back from cards and packages to just email messages, more than 35 million of them were sent to our troops.
Sadly, Operation Dear Abby is no longer in existence -- but readers, if you know someone whose family member or spouse is away from home during the holidays serving this country, please see that they are not alone. It would be a lovely way to repay in some small part what their family member is giving to all of us.
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.)