DEAR ABBY: Nine years ago I married a man who has a son from a previous marriage. "Eli" is now 26 and lives "on his own." While he may live under a different roof than his parents, they support him financially. My husband and I pay Eli's car insurance, cellphone bill, toll tag, life insurance policy and whatever other things come up (passport, gym membership). Eli's mom assists with all of his utility bills, in addition to depositing money in his account monthly. They even turned over Eli's 529 tuition account to him.
I have tried explaining to my husband that they are enabling Eli, and the umbilical cord should have been cut years ago. Eli has never earned more than $12,000 a year and has no desire to try because he has an endless flow of financial support. His dad is retired but continues to work in order to help Eli -- although he won't admit it.
This is straining our relationship because when I bring up this issue, he feels I am attacking his son. Am I unrealistic to expect an adult to support himself? -- SEEING CLEARLY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SEEING CLEARLY: Not at all. You are being rational. Your husband and his ex may be fostering their son's cycle of financial dependence out of a sense of guilt -- possibly because of their divorce. It may take counseling in order for him to understand that he and his ex are doing Eli no favors. Suggest it as part of marriage counseling to ease the strain on your marriage.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in the process of downsizing. I have two black graduation gowns and caps in excellent condition. I wore them proudly as an adult college student not long ago, and hate the thought of them being thrown in a landfill or used as Halloween costumes.
There must be schools where some students have a financial hardship and can't afford to buy their graduation gowns. However, I don't know of any organizations in my area that have a gown reuse program. Perhaps your loyal readers will have ideas? -- DARLENE IN NEW YORK
DEAR DARLENE: I'm sure they will. But in the meantime, may I offer a couple of suggestions? Contact the administration at the high schools or community colleges in your area and ask if they could use the gowns. Or contact a local community theater group and volunteer to donate them to their costume department.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO MY ASIAN READERS: The Year of the Monkey begins today. A happy, healthy new year to all who celebrate it. People born in the Year of the Monkey are witty, intelligent and have magnetic personalities. Clever in financial matters and career, lively and versatile, gentle and kind, these traits make them ideal partners if you want an everlasting love life. However: They must watch their tempers and a tendency toward arrogance. -- LOVE, ABBY
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.)