DEAR ABBY: My son’s ex-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 his ex-wife. He 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’s my son and I shouldn’t have to compete for his love.
I’m getting older now and I’ve asked him for help, but he refuses. I would just like a regular phone call and see him. I no longer get invited to his house for the holidays, and he no longer calls randomly just to talk. He has a new girlfriend and it’s the same old pattern again.
Advise me, please.
— LOW PRIORITY IN OHIO
DEAR LOW PRIORITY: Please accept my sympathy. I know you are suffering. It seems like your son is more attentive to you when he’s with girlfriends, but has tunnel vision when a new woman enters his life.
For your own sake, it is important that you begin to focus on creating a reliable and independent support system. To achieve this, you must be willing to provide support to others, which will leave you less time feeling alone.
Volunteering may be the way to go, whether it’s for a charity, a political organization, or your place of worship. There are so many needs out there; you will feel better once you start filling it.
DEAR ABBY: After 37 years of marriage, all of a sudden my husband has a problem with the way I speak. He says it’s my “tone.”
I can no longer discuss anything with him because it always ends in an argument, not about the words I say, but about the way I say them.
He can’t seem to help himself. He constantly criticizes everything I say. He took away my voice and I feel invisible.
He talks to me, but I’m only supposed to listen. If I ask a question or make a comment, he gets angry because I’m “interrupting” him. I can no longer add or participate in the conversation.
After all these years, I can no longer communicate. It’s like he hates the sound of my voice. Please tell me what to do.
— SILENCE IN TEXAS
DEAR SILENCE: Actually, 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 before, or your husband may have developed some sort of sensitivity to sounds in your vocal range.
Second, if your hearing and his are within normal limits and everything checks out 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 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 PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.