Showdown looms in marriage over allergies and a friend

Published 8:20 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

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DEAR ABBY: I am allergic to a wide range of scents – perfume, cologne, laundry detergent, etc. When I am caught in someone’s cloud, my sinuses and lungs burn, which causes instant wheezing and coughing. 

My husband’s friend bathes himself in a scent akin to household cleansing powder. It’s so strong, both of us can smell it in our house for more than a week after he visits. I avoid that friend like the plague and hide at the other end of the house, doors shut, yet I still suffer an allergic reaction. Forgive my being graphic, but his caustic scent gives me a bloody nose. 

My husband refuses to tell his friend about the health problems I suffer after his visits. He doesn’t want to make him feel unwelcome or upset him by being “rude.” What about ME? I can’t go near the upholstered furniture the friend sits on for well over a week. 

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There’s no reason in the world why I should suffer in my own home. I’m afraid I’m going to explode in rage the next time he visits, embarrassing all involved. Could you please advise me how to tell the friend he stinks without being rude? – SUFFERING IN CALIFORNIA


DEAR SUFFERING: It isn’t a breach of etiquette to tell someone you have an allergy problem you have been hesitant to discuss for fear of seeming rude. Call the friend BEFORE his next visit and explain that one of the products he is using causes you to have an allergic reaction that results in bloody noses. Then ask that he please not wear it when he’s in your home. This may be a conversation that’s uncomfortable for you, but to have it is essential.


DEAR ABBY: Ever since our daughter moved out, married and had children, she has become a different person. She doesn’t treat my wife like a mom. They used to be close, but now it seems my wife can’t do anything right. She can’t post pictures of the grandkids when others can, and she can’t hug or kiss her grandkids when others can. When asked what she did to be treated this way, my daughter responds, “I don’t know.” 

My wife wants to be a typical grandma and love, spoil and have a relationship with the grandkids, but she keeps being pushed away. I have had it to my wits’ end with my daughter because when my wife hurts, so do I. I’m ready to write her off and move on. What are we to do? – FRUSTRATED GRANDPARENTS


DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your daughter may fear that her children will love Grandma more than they do her. You might ask your daughter if she would be open to family counseling, but don’t be surprised if she isn’t. If I’m right about that, then your idea about moving on and finding other interests with your wife to fill that empty space isn’t a bad one. 

If she craves being around little children and needs to fill the time, perhaps she could volunteer for a program such as Foster Grandparents, in which volunteers work as aides in schools, day care centers, Head Start programs and family support centers. To find out more about them, visit


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