Dear Abby: I have been married to my college sweetheart, "George," for 20 years. He's a great husband, a good father, and we are very compatible. He's the kind of man who brings me flowers for no reason, and who would rather be home cooking dinner with me than almost anywhere.
Recently a woman called to tell me that George was "screwing around" all over town, and she thought I should know I was married to a "pervert." She hung up before I could comment. Abby, George swears he is not having an affair and has always been faithful. He insists that she's just a crazy person.
Of course, I have to believe the man I have known for 24 years over a complete stranger, but this has been devastating. It has made me question my choice to be a stay-at-home mom and made me nervous in crowds thinking that someone is watching me — or us — when we're out together.
George is trying hard to be there for me and says he'll go to marriage counseling with me or whatever I need. I know he loves me and our three children. But I can't help feeling violated and depressed, and I'm resentful that this stranger has the power to make me question my own happiness. Please help me. —Threatened in N.Y.
Dear Threatened: Take your husband up on his offer of counseling, because you HAVE been the victim of an assault — an emotional assault. In a sense, you have been violated. A wise person once told me that depression is "anger turned inward." A therapist can help you direct your anger where it belongs — at the anonymous caller.
Please don't let the venom some stranger attempted to spread poison your marriage. You know rationally that your husband loves you and demonstrates it in every way he can. Whoever made that call may be angry at you or your husband for some perceived slight. She may be a kook. She could even be a high school student who was dialing randomly for kicks. It's not as unusual as you might think.
Dear Abby: I have been married three years. After the wedding, I chose to keep my maiden name for both personal and professional reasons. Everyone in my life has honored my decision with one glaring exception — my parents.
On my wedding announcements, my son's birth announcement, legal documents — even plane reservations — they have either given me my husband's last name or hyphenated my name. I have called and begged them to stop doing it. (It caused problems with the plane tickets, and all of my wedding announcements and birth announcements were wrong.)
Every time I ask them to stop, they tell me I am the one causing the problem, and then they either get angry or promise not to do it again — and then go ahead and do it.
Obviously, I am hurt and frustrated by their refusal to honor my decision. How should I handle this without causing a huge family fight? —Still "Jane Smith"
Dear Jane: You can't control what your parents call you, or how they refer to you. But you can control who places an order for formal announcements and makes plane reservations for you. As to legal documents, I would think you would have to be correctly identified in order for the document to be valid.
The way to solve this problem is to stop relying on your parents to do things for you and take control of your life. You don't have to be confrontational, but the more independent you are, the less what they do can affect you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate