DEAR ABBY: I have been a widow for six months. My late husband was a physically and verbally abusive alcoholic. I spent numerous nights in the ER waiting to be seen and nursed many black eyes throughout the years. During all those years of abuse, which was witnessed by numerous friends and family, I remained faithful and dedicated to him and our marriage, but due to the toxicity of our relationship I was severely depressed and needed antidepressants. I tried many times to get him help and had family interventions, only to end up being threatened with getting all my teeth knocked out.
My dilemma is that one of our friends has become more than just a friend. This man is a kind, caring individual and has done more for me this last couple of weeks than my husband did my entire marriage. I have been so happy recently, but I feel guilty for feeling this way and wonder if I should be ashamed for not grieving longer. I feel maybe I’m doing something wrong by being happy and not having to deal with the abuse. What do you think? — SURVIVOR IN VIRGINIA
DEAR SURVIVOR: What I think is that you should be grateful you are free of your abusive late husband. I see no reason why you should feel guilty for not grieving the death of that disturbed individual. That said, it’s very important you take your time before getting into another exclusive relationship. You are extremely vulnerable now. You need to heal from the years of abuse you experienced, and possibly receive counseling to ensure you don’t drift toward the “familiar” or overlook warning signs of another potential abuser.
DEAR ABBY: My husband’s brother and his family live out of state. They never invite my husband’s parents to spend any holiday with them. In fact, they initiate no visits with them at all or travel to the area where we live. (We live in the same city as my in-laws).
My dilemma: I do not want to have my husband’s parents at our house for every holiday dinner we host. My children are getting older (one is married), and we don’t see them often. Sometimes I want to get together with just our immediate family, but then I feel guilty if I don’t ALWAYS include the in-laws.
I think my husband’s brother should step up to the plate and invite his parents for at least one holiday. I don’t think it’s fair to expect us to always have them at our house. What do you think? — NEEDING A BREAK IN OHIO
DEAR NEEDING: I agree that this pattern — established heaven knows how long ago — has placed an unfair burden on you. Your husband is long overdue for a conversation with his brother to see if something can be worked out. However, if your brother-in-law is unwilling, you may have to have your smaller family celebrations the night before or night after the holiday.
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.