DEAR ABBY: My son’s previous wife was difficult – manipulative, spoiled and possessive. I tried to get along with her, but no matter what I did, she gave me no respect and turned my son against me. They have been divorced for six years. He started dating a few years ago and every woman is a carbon copy of the ex-wife. He immediately falls back into the same pattern of ignoring me and letting his girlfriends “own” him. I am deeply hurt. I don’t understand why he feels like he has to choose between them and me. He is my son and I shouldn’t have to compete for his love.
I’m getting older now and have asked him for help but he refuses. I would just like to have a normal phone call and see him. I no longer get invited to his house for the holidays, and he doesn’t randomly call just to talk. He has a new girlfriend and it’s the same old pattern again. Please advise me. — LOW PRIORITY IN OHIO
DEAR LOW PRIORITY: Please accept my sympathy. I know it hurts you. It seems that your son is more attentive to you when he is between girlfriends, but has tunnel vision when a new woman comes into his life. In your best interest, it is important that you focus on building a reliable support system that is independent of him. To achieve this, you must be willing to support others so that you have less time to be lonely. Volunteering can be the start, whether for a charity, a political organization, or your place of worship. There is so much need out there; You will feel better once you start filling.
DEAR ABBY: After 37 years of marriage, my husband suddenly has a problem with the way I speak. He says it’s my “tone.” I can’t discuss anything with him anymore because it always ends in an argument, not about the actual words I say, but how I say them. He can’t seem to help himself. He constantly criticizes something about what I say. He took my voice away and I feel invisible. He talks to me, but I’m just supposed to listen. When I ask a question or make a comment, he gets angry because I’m “interrupting him.” I can no longer contribute or participate in the conversation. After all these years I can’t communicate. It’s like he hates the sound of my voice. Please tell me what to do. – CLOSED TO SILENCE IN TEXAS
DEAR SILENCE: In fact, I have a suggestion (or two). The first is that BOTH you AND your husband should have your hearing checked. You may be speaking louder than you used to, or your husband may have developed some sensitivity to sounds in your vocal range. Second, if your hearing and hearing are within normal limits and everything is checked at your next physical exam, ask your doctor for a referral to a licensed marriage and family therapist. The behavior you describe seems controlling and disrespectful, and a therapist may be able to guide you before you lose your mind.
Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and created by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.