DEAR ABBY: I am one of nine children who all still get along. One sibling belongs to a religious order. At least one (for sure) is not a Christian. One is a born-again Christian. One of us is gay and married. We are not all of the same political persuasion. Yet somehow, after all these years, we have managed to get along and still gather for family fun, whether it’s a holiday or just a cookout. We don’t all live in the same state, but more often than not, most of us are there.
There’s no secret to us still loving as well as liking each other. We simply respect each other’s opinions and realize that although we don’t always agree, it’s not worth cutting out of our lives someone we have known “forever.” I can’t imagine losing even one sibling over a silly disagreement. That’s not to say we haven’t had arguments, because we have certainly had our share, but we simply take the high road and agree to disagree. I love my siblings with all my heart. Just wanted to share an uplifting note with you. — NO PROBLEMS HERE
DEAR NO PROBLEMS: Most of the mail I receive concerns relationships that fractured because of a lack of respect for someone’s feelings. Thank you for your, frankly, refreshing letter. If more people emulated your family’s example, this world would be a happier, less complicated place in which to live. I wish your attitude were contagious.
DEAR ABBY: I have been dating “Paul” for several years. He lives about an hour away, and we see each other a few weekends a month. I know he loves me. A few months ago, his dog suddenly died from cancer. It was traumatic because “Bruiser” was his best friend.
Paul has been different since Bruiser’s death. He has zero interest in anything physical. To me, touch is important — not just sex. There’s shared intimacy in holding someone’s hand or kissing. I feel like a plant that’s wilting with no sun. I know Paul is struggling, but I don’t know how to help him through. We talked about it once, but other than acknowledging he’s struggling, he has done nothing further.
I don’t want to force the issue, but time is precious. I know what it’s like to struggle with depression, and I recognize the signs, but he won’t get help. How can I support him through this and get over my selfishness? — IN THE DARK IN NEW YORK
DEAR IN THE DARK: Tell Paul you know he is hurting because since Bruiser’s death, his behavior has changed. Explain that he may be depressed — AND WITH GOOD REASON — and that it might help him to contact his veterinarian and ask if there are grief support groups for pet owners who have lost their furry family member. His vet may be able to suggest one or more. However, if that doesn’t appeal to Paul, he should consider talking to his doctor because he is exhibiting some classic signs of depression. After that, the ball’s in his court.
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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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