DEAR ABBY - I have hearing loss. My insurance isn't very good, and the monthly payments for hearing aids are the equivalent of a car payment, so I try my best and do without. People who know about my hearing loss will talk louder for me or let me know when they need my attention. Even strangers will repeat themselves or talk louder if I say I'm hard of hearing.
The problem is that my husband refuses to talk louder for me or make any attempt to improve our communication. He has gone as far as to threaten that he just won't talk to me anymore because he's sick of repeating himself. No matter how many times I say I can't hear, he practically whispers or will scream at the top of his lungs at me to make a point. It's like he's taking my hearing loss personally, as though somehow my hearing loss is my fault. I also feel he may have an ulterior motive for talking softer.
I feel depressed and isolated, and I'm not sure what to do. My marriage is falling apart.
I can't hear you in California
DEAR CAN'T HEAR - What he's doing is emotionally abusive.
Please have your hearing checked by an audiologist to determine how much of your hearing you have lost. Take your husband along so a professional can explain it to him. And be sure to ask if there may be lower-cost options for an assistive device that won't bust your budget.
DEAR ABBY - When I was 17, I was engaged to a serviceman. I broke the engagement because my mother disapproved. I was young, naive, had no job or money, and I had never disobeyed my mom.
Big mistake! I have paid for it for more than 50 years. I have raised a family, but my heart is still with my young military man. I wake up in the middle of the night thinking of him. I've dreamt about him all these years. I still cry and feel I can hardly breathe sometimes. I still love him. Thoughts of him are consuming my life. I wonder if anyone else has had these feelings this long.
I don't want to risk disturbing two families by contacting him in another state to apologize. Please advise me about what to do.
Seeking closure in the South
DEAR SEEKING CLOSURE - There is no magic wand I can wave to make those feelings go away. I can, however, point out that your memories of that young man are from the perspective of a 17-year-old girl with little life experience. Viewed from that perspective, the life (and person) you have idealized may be far from reality.
Because these thoughts have become obsessive, it would benefit you to talk them through with a licensed mental health professional. Please don't put it off any longer, because it's clear from what you have written that you are hurting and need professional help.
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 $7 (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.)