Man frets about depressed female friend

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DEAR ABBY: I am happily married with a great wife. I also have a platonic female friend, “Tina,” I have known for many years and who suffers from depression. She and I have been getting together for the last few months over tea, and I usually let her air what’s on her mind in an effort to alleviate her depression.

We also go for walks occasionally and sometimes hold hands. I feel guilty doing this, but there is absolutely no threat at all of us ever becoming intimate. I worry that if I don’t befriend Tina she might commit suicide, which would make me feel terrible. I also worry about being seen in her company by one of my wife’s friends and the whole thing becoming a big misunderstanding. I value Tina’s friendship, but also do not want to jeopardize my marriage. What should I do? – BEWILDERED IN RENO

DEAR BEWILDERED: First of all, recognize your limitations. If you sincerely believe Tina is so depressed that if you stop holding hands with her during your walks she might end her life, then please urge her to get professional help. She would be better served if she was “airing what’s on her mind” with a therapist who can counsel her and possibly give her medical treatment for her illness – because that’s what depression is, an illness.

It’s all right to stand by your friend in her time of need, but if your alarm bells are going off and you’re getting “nervous about being seen,” then you are, perhaps, seeing her too often and getting closer than you should, both physically and emotionally. Please think about it.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 10 years to a man who just doesn’t take work seriously. It seems he’d rather that I work than he. He has been on workers’ comp twice and just got off again after three years. He works when he wants, just enough to get by – pretty much burdening me with the bills.

I have an opportunity to board where I work this year. It is quite a ways away, and the season lasts six months. My husband threatens to kick me out if I do. To be honest, I think he just wants me here to pay the bills.

Oh, and he abuses me, too, so I feel leaving would be good for me all the way around. Please tell me what you think. – GLAD FOR A WAY OUT IN NEW YORK

DEAR GLAD: Your husband isn’t going to “throw you out” – you should be so lucky! Take the job and, while you’re apart, file for divorce. Ten years of abuse is enough.

DEAR READERS: Sunday, May 21, 2006, marks the beginning of Remembrance Week, leading up to the observance of the National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress to occur at 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day. This year, the public is invited to a historical tribute, “A Time of Remembrance,” which will take place at noon on the 21st on the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. It will honor our fallen from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and their families. We want them to know that their fellow Americans care about their great loss and the sacrifice of their loved ones.

A wise man once said: “Like a breath to the human body, remembrance makes the spirit live.” The greatest gift we can give to our fallen and the loved ones who survive them is the gift of remembrance.

In the words of Carmella LaSpada, director of the Commission on Remembrance: “We hope our tribute on May 21 will comfort the families who gave their hearts to our country.”

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.

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