Friendship fades after criticism of husband's jokes


DEAR ABBY - I've been friends with "Martha" for 40 years. We live a few hundred miles apart, so I like to call her and chat. The problem is, her husband always answers the phone, and he likes to give me a hard time.

When I identify myself and ask to speak to Martha, he says he doesn't know anyone by my name or there's no Martha living there. Once he told Martha to ask me how my ex-husband was. (I haven't seen my ex for 40 years, since our divorce.)

The last time it happened, I told Martha her husband was annoying and that she should call me from now on. She said he was just trying to be funny. I haven't heard from her since. Was I wrong to speak up? Should I apologize?

Problem husband in Florida

DEAR PROBLEM - Martha's husband doesn't strike me as being particularly witty. After repeat performances of his lame material, I can understand how someone would become annoyed. I don't think you owe Martha an apology. Because you left the ball in her court, it's possible that since you did all the work staying in touch, your friendship wasn't as close as you assumed or you would have heard from her.

DEAR ABBY - My boyfriend and I have been together for two years. We're in our 50s and have both been married before. My problem is I don't know how to respond to his friends and family when they talk to me about his first wife. They tell story after story, and it makes me uncomfortable. I feel disrespected but smile politely to not be rude. Any thoughts?

Girlfriend in New Jersey

DEAR GIRLFRIEND - I'm sure no one does it out of a desire to make you uncomfortable or disrespect you. How you respond would depend upon how your boyfriend's marriage ended.

If his first wife is deceased, a way to change the subject might be to say, "It sounds like she was a wonderful (mother, daughter, woman)." If the marriage ended in divorce, all you need to say is that you'd rather focus on the present than the unhappy past.

DEAR ABBY - A friend and I belong to a book club and have regularly gone to lunch and a movie afterward. We've occasionally mentioned a movie we liked while chatting prior to the start of the book club meeting. This has prompted others to invite themselves along or ask if they can go with us.

If we wanted to spend more time with these women, we would have invited them. We feel that this afternoon outing is OUR time together and we would prefer it being just us. We changed the day, which was a bit inconvenient but preferable to the alternative. How do we handle it when future inquiries come up without hurting feelings or sounding snobbish?

Our time together

DEAR OUR TIME - Your mistake was in talking about your movie dates in front of the other women. In the future, handle it by refraining from doing that, and your problem will go away.

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.

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