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DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I first met, his sister asked my husband if I was "for real" because I'm very outgoing and affectionate. Until about six years ago, she berated me with abusive criticism. If I tried to overlook her actions and have a good relationship, she soon found something else to criticize.

Thankfully her abuse has finally stopped. But I'm now having trust issues because every time in the past when I let my guard down to mend the relationship, she'd lash out and put me down again. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. — WARY IN TEXAS

DEAR WARY: One would think that during the time your sister-in-law was sniping at you, your husband would have told his sister to put her knives away. After suffering through 14 years of her emotional battery, it's no wonder you have trust issues where she's concerned.

Intelligent person that you are, it's likely you always will have them, so stop blaming yourself for it. Continue being the outgoing and affectionate person you always have been, and keep your guard up because that's what healthy people have to do when dealing with someone like her.

DEAR ABBY: I love my wonderful neighbors of 28 years. They are 10 years younger than my parents. They have been like a second set of parents to me. My concern is for their health. They are in their 60s and 70s, but neither one goes to the doctor.

The wife went 20-plus years ago and decided never to return after they prescribed diabetes and blood pressure medication for her. More recently, she can no longer leave the house because she has injured her arthritic knee so badly. She refuses to get it checked and claims it will heal. (She diagnosed herself via Dr. Google.) Her intelligent adult daughter is aware of all of this.

I know this is a choice people make, but at this point I'm sure it's just anxiety that is keeping her from getting the medical help she needs. She's missing her garden, her grandchildren and grocery shopping, so I'm sure she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life like this. Her husband has no influence either and is picking up what she no longer can do. I have tried encouraging her to seek advice, but haven't pushed her so hard as to push her away. What should I do? — SCARED FOR THEM IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR SCARED: If anyone could do anything, it would have to be the woman's husband and her daughter. I assume you have pointed out to your neighbor that with medical help she could heal more quickly, and also that there is something called preventive medicine that can help people avoid becoming seriously ill. Because you have talked until you are blue in the face and still haven't been able to get through, my advice is to love her while you have her.

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Jeanne Phillips

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.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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