Father feels helpless as marriage crumbles

Published 8:27 am Thursday, October 5, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: I have failed in a 30-year relationship and as a father of five. After feeling terrible for a number of years, I was finally diagnosed with a blood disorder. I was prescribed a chemotherapy pill and, two years later, was diagnosed with extreme neuropathy. Depression set in. I let myself go and rarely got out of bed. My wife complained because she wanted me to be more involved with the children, but I failed.
We are now going through a divorce. I have been cut off from my 13-year-old son, and I don’t know how to reconnect. He’s the youngest of my kids, and he’s very special to me because he is adopted, as was I. I need help. I’m not good at asserting myself. Please help me because my heart is broken. – NEEDS HELP IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR NEEDS HELP: The individuals who can provide the help you are looking for would be your divorce lawyer and a licensed mental health professional. The former will see to it that your legal rights as a parent are enforced; the latter can help you become more assertive as well as, hopefully, reconnect with your youngest child. Your heart may be broken, but it will heal more quickly if you start now.
DEAR ABBY: Out of nowhere, my husband announced he thinks we should unfriend each other on Facebook. I got upset and told him it would make me feel insecure about us, because I think there is no reason for it. I find it very suspicious, and if there is a reason, I think we should split up. He unfriended me anyway. He called me closed-minded and said I value Facebook over our marriage. Is he right? – SOCIAL MEDIA-MINDED IN GEORGIA

DEAR S.M.M.: No, he’s not right. Your husband’s announcement was a red flag. When a spouse does what your husband has done, it’s usually because he doesn’t want his partner to see what he is posting and doesn’t want to be monitored.
You need to discuss this further so he can explain his reasons. If the discussion is not productive, offer your husband the option of counseling with a licensed marriage and family therapist. If he refuses, consult an attorney so your interests will be protected.
DEAR ABBY: Our church has a potluck every Saturday. How do we deal with the freeloaders – an adult family of three – who never bring anything? They jump up to be first in line, don’t help clean up and never fail to take leftovers home with them. They act like they deserve free meals. We are a small church and could use an extra dish, help in cleaning up, etc. Thank you for your advice. – OUTRAGED IN OREGON

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DEAR OUTRAGED: “Someone” – preferably, but not necessarily, the religious leader of your church – should take the family aside privately and explain the “rules” to them. It may not happen until the rest of you complain about what’s going on. If that family cannot afford to bring a dish, the least they could do is assist with cleaning up.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone – teens to seniors – is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)