Dear Abby: My wife, “Tina,” was very hurt by a friend recently. Her friend “Sally” called her “cheap” during a conversation (“she’s cheap like you”). Sally didn’t intend it to be hurtful, just an illustration — but my wife is very upset about it.
We use coupons when we grocery shop or dine out; we also watch our thermostats, recycle, etc. On the other hand, we have sent our children to university without loans, our mortgage is paid off, we have traveled extensively and our net worth is north of a million dollars with no debt. How do I make Tina realize that Sally’s comment should not upset her so?
What happened was unfortunate because the problem may be that Sally simply chose the wrong word. What she probably meant was that your wife is frugal. The difference between “frugal” and “cheap” is that being frugal is a VIRTUE. Because Sally hurt your wife’s feelings, Tina needs to tell her how it made her feel so Sally can apologize to her before it causes a permanent rift.
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Dear Abby: I’m a teenage girl who has a fantastic life, a loving family, great grades in school and a nice house. I have a problem that seems to be taking over my life: I’m very anxious.
At first, it seemed I was just a worrywart, but lately, it’s been nuts. I’m terrified someone in my family is going to die and I worry obsessively over it. I try to think it’s going to be all right, but my anxiety just overtakes me.
I’m terrified of death and that my parents or my siblings will die tomorrow. I don’t know who to tell. My parents freak out over the slightest thing. Please help me.
Many young people harbor the same fear you have. But because you say your parents tend to “freak out” at the slightest thing, I can’t help but wonder if a tendency toward high anxiety runs in your family.
Assuming that your family members are in good health, your preoccupation with the idea they might suddenly die should be discussed with a licensed psychotherapist. Ideally, you should tell your parents what’s going on, but if you’re afraid to talk to them and ask for help, then speak to a counselor at school so the counselor can bring it to their attention. Because this is troubling you to the extent that you have written to me, please don’t procrastinate.
Dear Abby: How do you politely refuse to hug or shake someone’s hand because of a medical issue that lowers your resistance to infection?
I had a stem cell transplant 18 months ago because of a recurrence of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’m now on a drug that keeps my white blood count low. If I get a fever, I could end up in the hospital. I have been in remission for over a year and look healthy.
I don’t really care to get into a long conversation about my experience, but I don’t want to put myself at risk. How should I handle this without appearing rude?
Not extending your hand should send the message. However, if you are pressed, tell a short version of the truth, which would be, “I can’t do that because I have a medical condition that prevents close contact.”
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.