Dear Abby: Dad's bursts of enthusiasm collide with boys' bedtime

DEAR ABBY: My husband gets very upset when our 4-year-old sons don't share his enthusiasm over something that excites him. He wants them (and me) to jump up and down or cheer when he's excited about something. The problem is, he tends to share his news when we're getting ready for bed or just plain tired. I feel guilty for not acquiescing, but at the same time, I don't want to fake it. Any suggestions for a compromise, please?


DEAR AT A LOSS: Explain to your husband that you are "sorry" he's upset at the lack of enthusiasm he's receiving when he's excited about something, but his TIMING is off. If he expects you and the children to be his cheering section, it would be helpful if he timed his announcements so they don't conflict with bedtime, when everyone's energy level is low. 

DEAR ABBY: My former husband and I have been divorced for more than two years. We had our wedding reception in a club with live music, and we would go there every Saturday night to listen to the music. We were divorced shortly after our marriage because he had frequent violent outbursts. After our divorce, he called and asked if we could have a date night. When I went out with him, it was great. We listened to the musicians, and no one knew we were divorced.

My ex had serious surgery, which I helped him through, but because of a subsequent violent episode from him, I have now severed all ties with him. I'd like to go back and listen to the musicians, but I don't know what to say when they ask me where he is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 


DEAR MUSIC LOVER: When you are asked, all you need to say is, "'John' and I are no longer a couple, so you won't be seeing him with me anymore. I may have split with my husband, but I haven't fallen out of love with your music." It isn't necessary to share any details beyond that. 

DEAR ABBY: My grandparents have been very generous. They provided for me in ways my parents could not when I was a child. They allowed me to take music lessons and vacations, let me travel with them and paid for my higher education. They also started an investment fund for me that has grown nicely. 

Now I'm married (I'm 37; my husband is 42), we are financially stable and obtaining financial counseling, and we have decided to place those funds in a different form of investment. The rub is that Grandma objects to any changes to these gifts and puts pressure on us. How do I thank her for her generosity and let her know we are handling our finances now?


DEAR CUTTING: Start by telling your grandmother again how grateful you are for everything she has provided these many years. Explain to her what your investment plans are for the money that has accumulated, and your reasons for wanting to change. If she has concerns, hear them out and suggest she discuss them with the financial adviser you plan to employ, which might put her worries to rest.

DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced when I was 4. I've had a problem with insecurity and jealousy for as long as I can remember. I have two older sisters who are twins and a half-brother my stepmom and dad had when I was 18. 

My sisters were always the popular and favored kids because they were twins. My grandparents took them to twin contests and constantly bragged about their talents. I was born legally blind. I can see, just not well. I had learning disabilities and have always been overweight. 

I was bullied at school and had few friends. My sisters were popular and were the talk of the school. I do have some close friends I've had since childhood, especially my best friend, who I've known since kindergarten. Our friendship has lasted through my best and worst times. My family considers him a part of our family. 

One of my sisters is always talking to him. She even went to visit him without letting me know. I feel like whenever we are all together, I get ignored. I don't doubt our friendship, but I can't help but feel left out when it comes to my sister. She used to lie to me about going out to lunch and visiting him out of state. 

I feel like they are keeping things from me. How do I move past my insecurities and jealousy? My sister says I'm being childish. I was always in the twins' shadow. How do I move past that?


DEAR LEFT OUT: I sympathize with what you went through, but you are no longer a child. It is time to quit competing with this sister. She should not have been sneaking around with your best friend, and he shouldn't have abetted her. That said, as insecure as a person may feel, they don't have the right to dictate to others who they may or may not see — all that does is generate resentment. 

You might have less anxiety if you interact less with the twins and focus on your own separate relationships. Figure out what interests bring you pleasure and involve yourself in activities with like-minded people.

DEAR ABBY: I am approaching a major college reunion next year. Several of us former roommates are looking forward to spending the weekend together and attending some of the official reunion activities. None of the others plans to bring a spouse or partner. My partner didn't attend our college, although he does know some of the girlfriends. He wants to attend. 

How can I tell him it will be more relaxed and fun for me if I don't have to worry about whether he's enjoying events when he knows few people and doesn't have the shared history the rest of the group enjoys?


DEAR GOING SOLO: Explain it to your partner exactly as you have explained it to me — that this isn't a couples event, and none of your former roommates is bringing their partner. If he insists on coming anyway, he should not expect you to be responsible for entertaining him.

About Dear Abby

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.