Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: My wife, "Carrie," and I have a vacation home in Florida. Occasionally Carrie goes down there for a week or so with her best friend. While she's away, I miss her badly and can't wait for her to call so I can hear her voice. The problem is she doesn't seem to miss me.

Sometimes she "forgets" to call or acts like she doesn't want to talk to me. When she gets home she says, "Of course I missed you," but it's different when she is off having fun and I'm the one stuck at home.

Carrie says it is normal for someone on vacation to have fun and be busy, and it shouldn't matter if I'm not on her mind. Please tell me — do I have a problem, does my wife have a problem, or do WE have a problem?

— LONELY HUSBAND IN MINNESOTA

DEAR LONELY HUSBAND: When a man says he feels neglected, and his wife forgets to call him when she's vacationing without him (and puts quotation marks around the word "forgets"!) and uses a phrase like "stuck at home," which implies resentment, then the answer to your question is you BOTH have a problem. Also, it appears you are extremely dependent upon your spouse and could benefit from developing some outside interests or male friends of your own.

DEAR ABBY: My best friend of more than 20 years has a boyfriend in prison. They started out as pen pals and quickly "fell in love." He was convicted of kidnapping and committing a sex crime against a woman. He will be released from prison soon, after completing his 15-year sentence, and plans on moving in with her.

Neither my husband nor I want to get to know this man, visit him in their home or entertain him in ours. My husband is adamant about never socializing with them.

I care deeply for my friend and want her to be happy, but I think she's making a huge mistake. How can I continue this friendship?

— BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL

DEAR BEHIND: You can't. And when she asks you why you have withdrawn from her life, you are going to have to give her the reason. The idea that you can maintain a friendship with this woman and exclude the man who's living with her is unrealistic, and the sooner you recognize that fact, the better off you'll be.

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law died unexpectedly a month ago. At his memorial service we were given numerous sympathy cards, some of which contained cash or checks. Is this commonplace? I asked other family members; they all said they hadn't heard of such a thing.

What are we supposed to do with the money? We don't know if there is a particular custom involving monetary donations. If you know, please advise.

— PERPLEXED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR PERPLEXED: Giving money to the family of the deceased may be a regional custom. It is done to help the family defray the cost of the funeral or other expenses.

Unless individuals prepare in advance for "the unexpected," their survivors can be caught flat-footed when a death occurs. Bank accounts can be frozen until the estate is settled, and it can take some time for insurance money to kick in. These donations can mean that the family has rent money or even money for food and can be very meaningful.

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.