Husband gives spouse an unthinkable ultimatum

Published 8:06 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: My husband has a poor relationship with our son and his wife. They want nothing to do with him and don’t want him around the grandchildren because of how he acts. My husband tells me I should stick up for him and tell them what they’re doing is wrong, and that he would never do or say anything bad in front of the grands. 

My son and his wife have made their decision. If I send them a text or visit them, it causes fights in our house because he is not welcome. Now my husband is demanding that I choose: Stand by him and have nothing to do with the kids, or choose the kids and have nothing more to do with him. How fair is it to have to make a choice like that? – TORN IN FLORIDA


DEAR TORN: Fairness has nothing to do with it. Your husband is trying to blackmail you into running interference for him with your son. It’s time to decide which is more important — having a relationship with your son, his wife and your grandchildren or remaining with your controlling, unpleasant husband. Keep doing what you’re doing and call his bluff, because disengaging from you could be more complicated – and expensive – than your husband realizes.


DEAR ABBY: I am writing because my wife has lost interest in her appearance. I love her, but I cannot figure out a way to tell her she has become obese. She seems to think her appearance is just fine. 

I know I can’t say anything without her getting extremely upset, so I’m in a quandary about how to get her to understand that obesity is not only a danger to her health but also looks awful. Can you suggest a way to approach a woman without getting in deep trouble with her? I’m sure other men (and women) have this similar situation. Please advise. – WORRIED HUSBAND


DEAR HUSBAND: The message might be less unwelcome if you concentrate solely on the HEALTH aspect of her weight gain. Encourage her to see her doctor, begin exercising (with you, if necessary) and adopt a healthy diet for BOTH of you “because you love her, and want to enjoy many more happy years together.”


DEAR ABBY: A relative recently moved to my state and wants to get together more than I care to. This person had more than a year to prepare for the move, but didn’t plan ahead for many of the tasks and now is overwhelmed, needy, whiny and complaining constantly. 

I’m now being asked for information regarding many of the personal services I use. My relative talks over me and doesn’t listen, so conversation is difficult. Aside from not initiating calls or answering my phone, have you any suggestions about how I can limit my interactions with this person? – KEEPING TO MYSELF


DEAR KEEPING: If your relative has a computer or cellphone, email or text a list of resources they can use to acclimate to the community. (I’m thinking pharmacy, dry cleaners, specialty stores, etc.) And after that, be “busy.” VERY busy.


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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)