DEAR ABBY: I am writing to you as a last resort. I have been married for 13 years to a man who does not communicate, to say the least. I have begged, pleaded, fought and waited for him to talk about something other than his children.

Now I have met a man who is divorced, and we have wonderful conversations. There is nothing more to it than conversation at this point.

My question is, if lack of communication is the only thing wrong in a marriage, is it enough of a reason to end a marriage? I was always brought up to “hang in there” and make it work at all costs. I am at my wit’s end. – JUST WANTING TO TALK, WOODBURY, MINN.

The “only thing wrong” in your marriage is the foundation of what a healthy marriage is built upon. When couples can’t communicate, it usually poisons the rest of the relationship.

Before you invest any more of yourself in the divorced man, it’s important that you and your husband get counseling from a licensed marriage and family therapist. Consider it a “hail Mary” pass at saving your marriage. I’m crossing my fingers that counseling will open the channel of communication between you and your spouse. If it doesn’t, then you will have to decide how much longer you can live in intellectual and emotional isolation.

DEAR ABBY: I know an older couple who seem to have an intractable problem. The wife, who now works part time, pursued painting as a hobby for many years. Her husband does not like her paintings. Almost every time I talk to him, he complains about the “junk” that his wife refuses to get rid of.

I have suggested that he give her one room of the house (there is a spare bedroom) to do with as she wishes – store her “junk,” display her paintings, etc. He refuses, fearing it will become so cluttered that it won’t be usable for overnight guests.

They rented a storage locker for several months, but the wife missed her things and brought them back. Their arguments have brought them to the brink of divorce. Have you any words of advice? Mine seem to fall on deaf ears. – ANONYMOUS IN NEW MEXICO

When words of advice seem to fall on deaf ears, it may be because the complainer would rather vent than listen. Offer one more bit of advice: If they have a garage, panel it and display the paintings in there – and possibly store some of the “junk” there, too – in cabinets, of course. After that, stay out of it.

DEAR ABBY: My friend, “Sarah,” has been considering becoming a nun. She found Jesus in the summer of 2003 and converted from Judaism to Christianity. She seems passionate about her beliefs, and I support her 100 percent.

When Sarah and I were in our teens, she was in a car accident that led to the death of a young man. Although charges were never brought up, it was manslaughter, and I think she still feels guilty about it.

Do I need to report this incident to her clergy? Would this prevent her from being able to become a nun? – SYLVIA IN SAN FRANCISCO

I see no reason for you to “report” anything to your friend’s clergyperson. Whatever confessing Sarah needed to do, she did when she converted to Christianity. As for its preventing her from becoming a nun, I see no reason why it would should. It might make her a better nun.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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