Dear Abby: I am a 57-year-old married man. I share a house with my wife and daughter. After dinner last month, my wife and I had a big fight. I can’t believe the things we said. In 30 years, it has never gone that far.
I left the house and went to a bar. A slightly older man sat down next to me, and we talked for a long time, about the Beatles, hockey, science, evolution and the universe. Conversation just flowed.
I decided to tell him about the fight with my wife. He told me he lived in the building and had a vintage vinyl collection. If I wanted, we could go up and listen to some records. I said yes. We had a few drinks, listened to some great music and talked some more. He was so smart and so cool.
Then I caught myself looking at him with more than just admiration for his intellect, if you know what I mean. It scared me. I didn’t know what to do, so I apologized and excused myself, hastily and rudely, I’m sure.
I don’t know if he had any intentions other than listening to old records. He didn’t say, and I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. But I remember that feeling. All day long I remember it.
My wife and I have made up. We both regret the fight. But, Abby, I think about him every day. I’ve considered going back and knocking on his door, but I can’t. I never imagined I’d feel this way at my age. What can I do? – Twisted up in the South
Dear Twisted Up: I’ll be frank. Sexuality is not necessarily black and white; there are shades of gray. You met this person at a time when you were emotionally vulnerable. The best thing you can do for your marriage would be to talk about this with a licensed mental health professional. The most destructive thing you could do for your marriage would be to knock on that person’s door at this time.
DEAR ABBY: My father has always been very careful with money, paying credit cards in full and living within his means. He recently retired with his house paid off and enough savings to maintain a middle-class life for him and my stepmother.
Last month, my sister confided to me that my stepmother, “Lynda,” has racked up $100,000 in credit card debt, mostly from online shopping. She hasn’t worked for many years because of health reasons, so she has no way to pay the bills on her own. Everyone in the family knows about this and is hiding it from my father.
I feel Dad has a right to know, as interest charges over time will only make the situation worse. If he finds out sooner rather than later, he will be in a better position to pay the debt. If necessary, he could return to work, at least part time.
However, I’m afraid that both my and my father’s relationship with my stepmother will be jeopardized if I tell him the truth. He has a history of not being able to control his temper.
They recently returned from a cruise, and all I could think about was whether they should have been spending money on a vacation. I’m afraid they could eventually lose their house and the means to support themselves if I don’t speak up. What should I do? – Nervous in New England
Dear Nervous: Rather than aid and abet your father’s wife by hiding her (shopping) addiction, your family should have informed your father before the debt reached such large proportions. What you should do is speak up. Let him know you are worried because it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see there is serious trouble on the horizon that will only grow worse if something isn’t done immediately.