DEAR ABBY: I have been living with my fiance, "Trevor," for three years. When his children — ages 7 and 8 — are here for their visits, he treats me like a third wheel. Trevor shows me absolutely no affection, nor will he have as much as a two-sentence conversation with me.
His children dictate what we will be having for dinner and what we'll do for the weekend they are here. They hang on him as if they are growths on his skin. I can't even get a hug from him. We don't have five minutes alone. Trevor allows them to stay up as late as they want, and once they go to bed, he goes, too. Most times he doesn't even say good night.
Many times he has left me and my 5-year-old son sleeping and has taken his kids for breakfast without even giving me the courtesy of asking if we'd like to join them. Abby, as soon as his children return to their mother, he becomes himself again — attentive, loving and always including me in what he's doing.
I have told Trevor many times how I feel about this. I understand he loves his children and wants to spend as much time as possible with them when they're here. But must I be put on hold while they visit? I'm ready to pick up and leave.
— LOW PRIORITY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR LOW PRIORITY: Feeling as you do, that might be best for all concerned. For whatever reason, you perceive your fiance's visitations with his children as competition. From my perspective, however, Trevor loves his children, may carry some guilt that the family is no longer intact, and tries the best he can to concentrate all his energy on them during the short periods they are with him. This is not about you and him; it is about THEM.
Forgive me for not being more sympathetic, but please recognize that your present is a glimpse of what your future will be if you marry Trevor. Once you accept that, you'll have a better idea of what you want to do.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 56-year-old woman. When I was growing up, I missed out on a lot in school because of a hearing problem. I was able to graduate from high school — but just barely. I can read and write, but there are things I should know how to do but can't.
I am very embarrassed that I'm not able to do things most people take for granted — for example, make change. I could never work as a cashier because I know I'd be fired on the spot. I have owned a housecleaning business for 17 years, which has worked out OK, but I'd like to have a job where I'm around people.
How can I learn about money without embarrassing myself or my family?
— CHALLENGED IN TENNESSEE
DEAR CHALLENGED: Because you want to supplement your math skills, start checking opportunities that are available in your area for adult education. Some high schools and community colleges offer night classes for adults.
Also, some important advances in cash register design have occurred since your school days. Cash registers now indicate for the cashier exactly how much change should be returned to the customers. So if the idea of a job in retail interests you, start looking around.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: Hanukkah begins at sundown. To all of you I wish a happy festival of lights!
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.