DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years, "Jerry," recently learned about an old girlfriend's death. A Facebook friend informed him about it. The message arrived late at night while I was sleeping, and he woke me to tell me the news.
He is now receiving condolences from friends that he is responding to as though he were grieving. Abby, the old girlfriend and my husband split up on very bad terms. She not only cheated on him but gave him an STD. I am appalled and feel hurt that this is happening. Friends of mine are surprised and suspicious about it.
I confronted my husband and asked him if the situation were reversed and I were the one who died and an old flame started receiving condolences, how would he feel? Jerry said it wouldn't bother him. Is it normal to send condolences to old flames? — DEATHLY CONFUSED IN TEXAS
DEAR DEATHLY: It's normal to inform others about a death, but considering the circumstances of the breakup, what's going on isn't "normal." It's possible that the messages your husband is receiving are from other Facebook friends who are connected to the sender of the original message.
While it isn't unusual for old friends to reach out to each other after news of a death, to convey it in the form of a condolence to an ex-boyfriend after the romance is long over strikes me as somewhat odd. My advice is to remain calm, don't let it give you heartburn and wait for the emotions to subside with time.
DEAR ABBY: The holidays are approaching, and I suspect many young couples are facing the same problem about where to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have two daughters — one married and one single. The married daughter's mother-in-law has declared that this is "her" year for Thanksgiving, and next year is "her" year for Christmas. She has three sons, none of whom lives within four hours of her home. All three sons have children.
Don't you think the sons and their wives should decide for themselves if they want to travel for the holidays? They may prefer to spend Christmas morning in their own homes. Also, what about her daughters-in-law's parents? Perhaps they, too, have other grown children who would like to decide what they want to do for the holidays.
My philosophy is to plan my holidays and invite my children. If they can come, great! If not, there are no hard feelings. If all of my children and grandchildren can't be here at the same time, I focus on the ones who are and enjoy the time I have with them. I think the woman is being disrespectful to her sons and daughters-in-law. What say you? — FOCUS ON A GOOD TIME
DEAR FOCUS: As your letter illustrates, not all mothers-in-law are alike. Some are iron-fisted matriarchs who demand obedience from their grown children. Others, like you, are more easygoing. In my opinion, the woman you have described is less disrespectful than overbearing.
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.
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 $7 (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.)