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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad's Long Disappearances Give Family Cause for Alarm

DEAR ABBY: My father's behavior has been very peculiar lately. He and Mom have been married for 45 years. Of course, all marriages go through ups and downs. They have had their share of health problems. Both are doing OK but are dealing with some medical issues.

Because of my father's actions, I'm afraid for my mother's emotional state. He stays gone for long periods of time throughout the day and sometimes stays out until the early morning of the next day. She always stays up until he gets home. When she calls or texts him, at times he doesn't respond. I've also called or texted him while he was out. When I tried talking to him, he said he doesn't have to explain himself. He's not the best at staying on track when it comes to taking care of himself. It's like he is living another life.

I'm not sure what's going on between my parents. I just know I don't like to see Mom treated this way because it's disrespectful, and I can see she's hurting. My relationship with my father is suffering because of this. I asked him to come to family counseling with me, my siblings and mother. He refuses. I'm praying about this. I just don't know what else we can do. Please help. -- PERPLEXED DAUGHTER

DEAR DAUGHTER: You cannot force your father into family counseling, but you and your siblings can continue to give your mother emotional support during this difficult time, and that's what I urge you to do. I don't know what your father is up to and neither do you. But if it becomes necessary, a private detective can fill you in, I'm sure.