DEAR ABBY: My elderly father remarried after my mother died two years ago. He married an acquaintance who is 30 years younger at the courthouse with no friends or family in attendance. He told this woman beforehand that there was a large widow's pension he'd paid into for decades that he wanted to give to her by marrying her. She claimed to be in an "unhappy" marriage at the time and promptly got a divorce.
Well, she and her now-ex have "suddenly started getting along just great," so she decided to continue to live with her ex after her marriage to Dad. Despite agreeing to these terms and because the woman teased him before their marriage, Dad is angry that she still won't have sex with him. Also upsetting is that when they are out socially, his new wife still introduces her ex as her "husband" and Dad as their "friend."
Now we learn, despite assurances during discussions with an attorney prior to the marriage that she would never exercise her rights as a spouse to any other funds or property, she's asking my dad for a monthly allowance so she can retire, since she has no savings.
Abby, do we have any recourse in this situation? Do you think we are right to call my father's marriage fraudulent, and would we be considered accomplices by not reporting it to any authorities before his death?
- Stepdaughter in Revolt
DEAR STEPDAUGHTER: You are correct that the "marriage" was fraudulent, and you certainly do have recourse. Your father's lawyer should be consulted immediately to discuss an annulment of this bogus arrangement. Because your father's judgment is so poor, go with him to ensure that no details are left out. Frankly, I think the woman may be guilty of elder abuse, and your father may need a conservator.
In middle school and overcome by weeping
DEAR ABBY: I'm in seventh grade. Until recently, I was my usual happy, bubbly self. I saw school as a place to make friends and have more freedom than I did in elementary school. I was always happy and social and made friends easily.
As the months have passed, it seems like, as I look around, everything annoys me. I can't explain why but I have stopped talking to all of my friends for long periods of time. All these terrible emotions build up. I am angry, sad, frustrated. Now everything that has built up inside me comes out at the worst times. I cry a lot and I feel no one understands why.
This may seem like a normal middle-school breakdown that goes away over days, but it's not. People see me crying and think, "Oh no, she's crying for no reason again" or, "Why is she crying? What is wrong?" but the thing is I don't know what's wrong with me. At odd moments when I'm alone with my thoughts, these feelings come back, stronger and stronger each time. I can't stop them. Why am I like this?
- Almost-teen in Turmoil
DEAR ALMOST-TEEN: That's a very good question, and one you should ask your parents, because they know you better than I do. The lows you are experiencing may result from the fact that you are maturing and the hormones in your body are changing. However, because you are concerned enough about what's going on to write to me, you may need to be examined by a physician.
If you need help beyond that, the doctor can recommend a referral. I'm glad you wrote. It shows you are an intelligent young lady who recognizes she has a problem and wants to deal with it.