Dear Abby: Teen's sudden death comes amid fractured friendship

DEAR ABBY: Last year, after a falling out with someone I have been friends with for more than 20 years, I was OK with writing this person off and going on with my life. From my understanding, this person felt the same way.

Last week, their teenage son died in a terrible accident. I was heartbroken. I truly cared about the boy and had watched him grow up. I reached out and received no response (as I expected). I'm torn about whether I should go to the funeral and how it would be perceived. I want to show support, but I'm concerned I'm not wanted there. I'm also concerned that if I don't go it will look awful and disrespectful, since I have been a part of this boy's life. I don't know what to do. -- CARED FOR HIM IN OHIO

DEAR CARED FOR HIM: You may not have heard from the family because they are grieving and not communicating with everyone. As I see it, you have several choices: Send a condolence card, send flowers, contribute to a charity in the young man's name and/or go UNOBTRUSIVELY to the funeral and sit in the back. If, however, you decide to do this, do not go with any expectation it will heal the breach in your relationship.

DEAR ABBY: I was happily married for almost 20 years. Suddenly my husband became withdrawn, obviously unhappy, and moved out. He keeps telling me we are going to spend the rest of our lives together, that we aren't divorced, just "taking a break."

Although I had a great relationship with his family, they no longer speak to me. My family still treats him the same. He has a friend who is always whispering in his ear about how terrible I am. My husband denies it, but I have seen the text messages. As far as I know, I haven't done anything to this friend.

Between my husband's paydays, I help him out financially. We're both close to retirement age because we married late, and we still have a teenager at home. Do I wait for him to come around, or move on with my life? I still love him, but I'm feeling used. -- DISILLUSIONED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR DISILLUSIONED: You are not only being used, but also being lied to. In addition, your in-laws' behavior is emotionally abusive. (Could they have been told things about you that aren't true?) Offer your husband the option of marriage and family therapy and a chance to repair what went wrong. However, if he refuses, quit being so accommodating, close your checkbook and move on with your life.

DEAR ABBY: After an invitation to visit, how long can I stay before I'm imposing? -- TOO LONG IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR TOO LONG: It depends upon the relationship you have with the person who invited you. Usually, when an invitation is extended, it is for a specified time period -- a week, a weekend, etc.

Two truisms apply here: "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days" (Benjamin Franklin), and "One of the most important things that Hollywood teaches is to always leave your audience hungry for a little more" (Howard Bragman).

P.S. When in doubt, ask!

Wife discovers her place in pack's hierarchy

DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I got married a year ago, he had seven rescue dogs, which was a lot for me, but I accepted it. Two of the small dogs slept in our bed, and I was OK with that, too. My husband promised he would never put the dogs before me, and when those dogs died, he would not replace the big ones. (At that time, he had only two small ones.) Well, he has lost a big one and a small one, which left us with five dogs.

Not only did my husband go to the shelter and adopt two, he is going to buy another one! Everything he promised was a lie. The two from the shelter are allowed to sleep with us, although I've explained to him I can't sleep with all these dogs in our bed. Rather than have them sleep somewhere else in the house, he has pretty much told me to pack my things. When he told his dog-loving mother about our problem, she advised him that it's OK for me to sleep in another room so he can sleep with his dogs.

I feel like he knew all along what his intentions were. I almost left and I am still thinking about it. I've talked to him, but he won't change his mind. I'm not sure why he even married me. Help me, please. -- SLEEPING POORLY IN TENNESSEE

DEAR SLEEPING POORLY: Unfortunately, I can't help you. You are going to have to help yourself. Your husband has made clear to you that his animals come first. Now that you know what his priorities are -- and you appear to be at least sixth on the list -- pack your bags and get out of there. He isn't going to change, and you will both be happier.

DEAR ABBY: I have three children, ages 10, 8 and 5. I live about 45 minutes from my sisters and my parents, so we spend holidays and more together. My younger sister is pregnant and wants to name the baby "Bradley" because she and her husband can't agree on any other name. When she asked my opinion, I was taken aback because my 5-year-old's name is "Bradford." At first I said it would be OK. But after a few days of thought, I asked her to please not use Bradley as a first name because my son (and hers) may want to use "Brad" in school or sports at some point, and it would be confusing. This has caused a family rift, as everyone thinks I'm being unfair.

At this point, it's not about the name. It's more about her deciding to ignore my wishes. Are there baby-naming rules of etiquette to follow? I will, of course, love the child regardless, and I love my sister. We are close. However, I'm surprised they can't come up with any other name, knowing that it bothers me. Help! -- NAME GAME IN ILLINOIS

DEAR NAME GAME: For whatever reason, your sister and her husband seem unable to find another name. Accept it and move on. Because of the five-plus year age difference between the boys, there shouldn't be a problem with "confusion" because by the time her son is ready for kindergarten, your son will be so much further along in grammar school. He will also be out of high school by the time his cousin enters. Rather than fume over something you can't control, let it go.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.