DEAR ABBY: I live with my significant other. We have been together for 13 years now. I would like to ask his stepmother why she refuses to acknowledge me. She sends holiday cards addressed only to her stepson. I am left off invitations as if I simply do not exist. Should I confront her and tell her it hurts my feelings?
I have had a couple of visits with her, and I'm respectful. She has introduced me as "a friend" of her stepson. I feel it's time to speak up. Do you agree? — FED UP IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR FED UP: I am surprised that after all this time your partner hasn't spoken to his stepmother about this. I agree it is time to bring this out into the open, but only if you can curb your resentment and talk calmly with her.
Tell her her omissions have been hurtful and ask why she seems incapable of acknowledging your relationship with her stepson. Once you have put her on the spot, listen to what she has to say, but resist the urge to strike out. If you can manage that, you will have not only learned something important about her, but you will also have kept your dignity.
DEAR ABBY: People often stress out over the stuff that goes on in daily life and don't seem to know how to deal with it. Frankly, I don't know either, because I stress out more than most of the people I know. Do you have any advice on some things I can do to stress less? — TRYING TO COPE IN THE SOUTH
DEAR TRYING TO COPE: Several things come to mind. Make it your business to get out of the house and walk every day for at least 30 minutes. I find it has helped me to put things into perspective. Look online for some simple meditations and breathing exercises, which can also help to relax you.
If you drink, do so only in moderation. Remember, alcohol can be a depressive and make you feel tired and down. When you are feeling overwhelmed, recite the Serenity Prayer: "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."
If your stress continues, don't suffer in silence — discuss it with close friends and family, and if necessary, your doctor.
DEAR ABBY: I was a girl, then a young lady, next a mother and now a grandmother. I was never a "guy" until the last 10 years, when waitstaff and salespersons began calling me that when I am with my husband. Examples: "How are you guys tonight?" and "What can I get you guys?" I am not, nor have I ever been a "guy." Other than baring my breasts, how do I let people know that I am not a guy and wish to be addressed otherwise? — CALL ME MA'AM IN FLORIDA
DEAR CALL ME: The servers and sales staff are not intending this as a personal affront. Using the word "guys" to refer to a couple or a group is becoming so common it's now in Webster's dictionary. However, this is a complaint voiced by many of my readers of a certain age, along with not enjoying being addressed as "Sweetie" or "Young Lady."
If it bothered me as much as it does you, I would quietly take it up with the manager and suggest that because it is annoying, "Sir" and "Ma'am" would be a more suitable substitute for "you guys." You might also prefer to dine in a less casual restaurant or shop in a more exclusive store to see if you are addressed differently.
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 everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)
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