DEAR ABBY: My husband, "George," and I have been married for 13 years. Last night he told me that while he loves me, he isn't happy.
I don't handle people well. I love George and our son, but I am most relaxed and comfortable when I'm by myself. I have no close friends, and that's how I prefer it.
George's complaint is that I keep him from having friends. I have never tried to stop him. In fact, I have encouraged him to cultivate friendships and hang out with "the guys," join groups, etc. He says he can't do that and leave me at home.
Abby, in 13 years I don't think I have ever looked George or my son in the eye. It's not something I'm comfortable with. My husband knew how I was when he married me. What can I do?
- Oklahoma Loner
DEAR LONER: You need to find out why you are unable to look even the people closest to you in the eye. There may be a psychological or neurological reason for it.
While it's fine for you to encourage your husband to socialize without you, it's understandable that he would feel uncomfortable doing it all the time. He isn't a bachelor. Couples usually socialize together.
If the root of your problem is a social-anxiety disorder, there is help available for it. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist. For the sake of your marriage and your family, please don't put it off.
DEAR ABBY: I'm thinking about marrying my longtime boyfriend, but I'm hesitant because he wants me to change my last name. I want to keep my maiden name. Most of the women I look up to in my life kept their names.
My boyfriend says my wanting to keep my name tells him I am not committed. I feel that retaining my name is the ultimate in female empowerment. The tradition of women changing their last name goes back to when we were treated as property and not educated. What do you think I should do?
- Female First, Wife Second
DEAR FEMALE FIRST: This shouldn't be a contest of wills, and you should not change your name to prove the depth of your commitment.
Your boyfriend appears to be very traditional in his thinking. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what that would mean for your future if you marry him. Would he be willing to compromise if you offer to hyphenate your name with his? If he isn't, and you feel that giving up your name would make you feel like chattel, then perhaps you should look for a man whose beliefs are closer to your own.