DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Herbert" for 27 years, and even though we have had our ups and downs -- mostly due to his verbal abuse -- I thought we were relatively happy.
I went to visit my parents for a week. When I returned, I was telling Herb about a major and exciting change in my relationship with my father, when out of the blue he said, "You know, a guy can't help but wonder what it would have been like to have married someone knock-down, drop-dead gorgeous."
I was dumbfounded. When I got up and left the room, Herb became angry and said I must not be "mature" enough to hear his innermost thoughts. Abby, where does a question like that come from? How could I have handled what he said without taking it personally? Am I missing any hidden red flags here? What would you have said? -- FLABBERGASTED IN OHIO
DEAR FLABBERGASTED: You're not missing any red flags with your husband. In the first sentence of your letter you labeled him verbally abusive, and your assessment is on target. Considering that you were sucker-punched, I'd say you handled the situation with great restraint and maturity. A lesser woman would have replied, "And what makes you think you have what it takes to attract, or to keep, a woman like that?"