DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to "Bored Husband, Akron, Ohio," whose wife is addicted to soap operas. Several years ago, I, too, was addicted to them. I'd cry when my favorite soap stars got married, I'd cry when someone died on one of my favorite shows, and be extremely elated when something good happened to one of them. In short, I lived my life vicariously through the soaps.
I finally went to my doctor for a checkup and -- guess what! I was diagnosed with chronic depression. I was put on medication, a new diet, and told to find something to do to fill my daytime hours that did not include watching soaps.
When life is not exciting or challenging, people tend to look for something to spark their lives. "Bored" should, first of all, take his wife to the doctor to be screened for depression, and possibly counseling. After that, they should find something they can do together -- like bowling, golf or volunteering. Most important of all, he should keep trying to find a solution to the problem and not give up. I wish him luck. -- ROSE IN OREGON
DEAR ROSE: Thank you for your generosity in sharing your personal experience. Predictably, the mail I received commenting on "Bored Husband's" letter was all over the map -- including some from staunch soap opera fans declaring that after 50 years of marriage, the wife "had a right" to spend her remaining years doing exactly as she wished. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The man complaining about his wife's "addiction" to the soaps hit a nerve. Obviously the soaps have been her company for years. Where was he? Where were the kids? She has filled her time with soaps, which apparently have never let her down.
After 50 years, maybe she just doesn't like her husband anymore and uses the soaps for an excuse. I'm on her side! -- SOAP OPERA LOVER IN HOUSTON
DEAR ABBY: When I saw that letter, I had to chuckle. My mom got me addicted to soaps back in the '70s, when I was in my early 20s. I finally decided that sitting for three hours a day listening to other people's problems was about the dumbest thing I had ever done. I stopped -- cold turkey.
In 1988, my dear mother was in the hospital with a terminal illness. I sat at her bedside for days, and of course, she had the soaps on. Abby, I could follow the story lines perfectly! I knew all the people and what was going on. It had been more than eight years since I had watched. It was then that I realized how much time in my life had been wasted on those shows. Mom died shortly after that, and I've never watched a soap opera since. -- FORMER ADDICT, SAWYER, OKLA.
DEAR ABBY: I completely relate to that man's problem. I had it, too. From the moment VCRs went on the market, my wife taped every show so she could watch them after work. After years of going our own ways, talking, counseling with three different groups, nothing changed.
After 45 years of marriage, I knew there had to be something better. I divorced her and began a wonderful new life. My solution may not work for everyone, but for me, my only regret was not biting the bullet sooner. -- RICHARD IN NEW YORK
DEAR ABBY: Lots of women would adore having someone to go out to lunch with, and I'm one of them. I don't watch soap operas, and I'd love to have someone to go places with, do things with, or just to talk to. If "Bored Husband" would like to trade that wife in for one who's 64 and would consider him the answer to her prayers -- tell him to come on down! -- MISSISSIPPI REDHEAD