DEAR ABBY: You missed the mark with your advice to "Sad in the South," the woman who said she was miserable in her 35-year marriage to "Homer." She said she was afraid her "small pension" was insufficient to support her if she divorced him. You advised her to get a volunteer job that might turn into a paying position.
Abby, after 35 years of marriage, that woman is entitled to a significant portion of her husband's "very nice (retirement) annuity" and any other benefits he will receive. She should consult a lawyer specializing in family law about her rights, if she's as miserable as she says she is, and then divorce him. Life is too short. She has already missed 35 years of it by staying with a man who made her so unhappy. -- CALIFORNIA LAWYER
DEAR LAWYER: In my own defense, I felt that volunteering would get the woman out of the house and give her enough of a boost that she would feel better. I was surprised at how many readers disagreed with me. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: You should have advised "Sad in the South," who is married to "the most manipulative, cunning, critical man ever born," to see an attorney about her rights to some of his assets if she should decide to leave. She may also need counseling to regain enough self-esteem to leave, and it would be better than staying in the situation she's in. I hope she gets out while she still has some enjoyable years left. -- A FRIEND IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR FRIEND: She called her husband cunning, clever and manipulative. Although those traits are obnoxious, nowhere did she say he mistreated her. Instead of divorcing her husband, I'd rather she saw a counselor and learned how to stand her ground. She said at first she gave in because she loved him, then she did it to avoid an argument, and now she does it out of habit. Instead of just walking away, wouldn't it be better if she first gave him a chance to change?
DEAR ABBY: That woman needs to educate herself about the laws governing pension plans and Social Security, and the best way to do it is to see a lawyer. Then, like me, she may learn she has more coming to her than she thinks.
I not only have enough money to get by, I have enough to enjoy things I never would have experienced with my husband. I live comfortably in a retirement village where I pay according to my income, and I'm enjoying the new friends I've made here. I was granted half my husband's pension, half the savings and stocks, and all of the household items. After his death a few months ago, my Social Security increased, so I went on a cruise with friends to celebrate. Everyone says my happiness is what killed my husband, who died an angry and bitter man.
My life has become a paradise, and everything I have dreamed of has come to pass. -- FINALLY HAPPY IN INDIANA
DEAR FINALLY: It appears you're sitting in clover, while your husband is lying under it. I don't know what he did to you that makes you take such joy in the circumstances of his death, but I wonder if the punishment fits the crime.
P.S. One woman to another: It isn't nice to gloat.