DEAR ABBY: I am a transgender female who is working on my marriage to my wife of 41 years. I started my transition in 2011.
We have had our ups and downs during the course of our marriage. We have two sons and eight beautiful grandchildren. All of them know about my transition to womanhood, and my family also knows. What I need now is some advice to help our marriage. We are strongly committed to working on it. -- REAL ME IN OHIO
DEAR REAL YOU: Many couples choose to stay together and keep their marriage intact when one partner transitions. You and your wife can find help -- and support -- at the nearest LGBT center that offers couples counseling. If there isn't one in your community, check the nearest large city to where you live.
You and your wife should also reach out to the Straight Spouse Network, which has been mentioned in my column before. This group was started in 1986 by Amity Pierce Buxton, Ph.D., and its mission is to build bridges of understanding for couples of mixed sexual orientation or gender variance. The contact information is straightspouse.org.
DEAR ABBY: I have two adult children who are divorced and both live out of state. My son has no children, and my daughter has two who are now adults. I'm close to my son but have been estranged from my daughter and grandchildren for almost 20 years. (There is no possibility of a reconciliation.)
I have not explained the details about this situation to anyone. My close friends know I have no contact with them and, thankfully, to their credit, they haven't asked. My co-workers, however, want to know about my family. I have tried giving them generic information, such as "they live out of state," but a few keep asking for more details, such as when are they coming to visit, what do they do, etc. Some are being friendly, but a couple of them are busybodies. What can I say to deter them and their questions without being rude? -- COMPLICATED IN VIRGINIA
DEAR COMPLICATED: This situation is more common than many people realize, and the best way to stop nosy people from repeatedly asking questions would simply be to say, "We are estranged." Period. If someone is so insensitive as to question you about why, you are free to say you prefer not to discuss it -- now or ever.
DEAR ABBY: What would you say about a married man who cultivates online friendships with young women? He is in contact with one of them every hour, calling or texting. Mostly it is innocent, but there are very warm texts that include "kisses" icons ("just pictures, nothing more!").
He does not hide this from his wife. He tells her he is enjoying very much the communication with a young, beautiful woman. He says it is just a game for him, he has no feelings for them, he loves his wife and only her (and she feels it strongly). Do you think this kind of communication is acceptable? -- TRIVIAL FLIRT IN RUSSIA
DEAR TRIVIAL FLIRT: I don't think so. The husband may not be cheating on his wife in the classic sense, but calling and texting is not only disrespectful to the wife he says he loves, but also to the young women who may not understand that it's "just a game."
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