DEAR ABBY: Seventeen years ago, I had a (minor) tryst with my wife's sister. Months later, it came to light during an unfortunate phone conversation. Since then, my wife and I have gone through years of counseling.
Our family has recovered and all is well -- except with my wife's brother-in-law (the husband). He considers me "persona non grata," and I have been excluded from all family functions, at least those he is involved in.
I took my counselor's advice and sent him a written apology, delivered by my wife. My parents-in-law have forgiven me (as well as their daughter) for the errant behavior, but still a massive wedge remains in our family. My father-in-law is ailing now and is desperate for reconciliation. I've done what I can (I think). What now? What more? -- PERSONA NON GRATA IN ILLINOIS
DEAR P.N.G.: You have already apologized. You can't force your brother-in-law to accept it. Because your father-in-law is desperate for reconciliation, he is the one who should appeal to your brother-in-law to heal the breach.
DEAR ABBY: In a world so vast and beautiful, do you think one person could somehow see it all? I've often dreamed of doing so, but most of the time I sit in front of a computer doing schoolwork. So many days I have wanted to drop out and be a hippie or something, but in these times, there are so many requirements to get to where we want to be and have what we've always wanted or needed.
You know what, Abby? I've got a better question for you. Can you invent a time machine so I can go back to the '50s? Forever wondering ... -- GABRIELLA IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR GABRIELLA: I wish I could provide one, but if I did, I have a hunch it would become very crowded. Your yearning for the '50s may be happening because life in the 21st century has become stressful. It isn't just you -- for many people, the cycle of life seems to spin increasingly faster.
There's nothing wrong with dreaming about visiting faraway places. Once your studies are completed, you may be in a position to do that. In the meantime, make an effort to block out time to go to a gym, do yoga, meditate. If that's not possible, break up your routine with some other form of exercise. I can tell you from experience, it works.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a 15-year-old daughter who has a boyfriend her age. Her boyfriend visits our daughter in her bedroom, where they lock themselves in for hours. I object to them being alone in a bedroom, but my wife says she "knows" her daughter and that there's nothing to worry about. Who is right? -- UNCOMFORTABLE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: YOU are! Your wife is dreaming! Tell your daughter that from now on, her door will remain open when anyone of the opposite sex is in there with her, or the lock will be removed. (Even better -- restrict their visits to the living room.) Do it now. Time may be of the essence.
TO MY READERS: A very merry Christmas to you all!