DEAR ABBY: At 17, I learned I could never have children. I was devastated. I thought there would never be a “happily ever after” for me. I was wrong. I have been happily married to a wonderful man for four years. I was honest with him about my infertility, and it made no difference to him.

The problem is my father-in-law. Although my husband has two sisters, he is the only son of an only son, and his dad is always pushing the baby issue.

He says things like, “If I could only have a grandson before I die,” or, “When are you going to get busy and have me a baby?” When I remind him that he has a grandson, he says it doesn’t matter.

He wants one with HIS last name.

My husband thinks I should just tell his father the truth – that I can’t have children – but I’m afraid his parents will hate me.

It has been seven years since I learned I can’t have children, and I still feel an emptiness inside. And just when I think I can’t feel any worse, my father-in-law’s comments make me feel broken and useless. I could use some advice. – CHILDLESS IN ARKANSAS

I agree with your husband. The two of you should have a frank talk with his parents. Explain to his father that his comments are hurtful and why. He needs to know the truth. If you are “hated” after that, the problem is theirs – not yours.

P.S. Even if you could have children, there is no guarantee that they wouldn’t all be girls. Big Daddy is overdue for a dose of reality.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Fred,” has never been much of a conversationalist, and since he stopped smoking five months ago, his weight has ballooned. We’re both elderly and live on a lake, so we’re quite isolated, especially during the long winters.

Although Fred sees his doctor regularly, he’s stubborn and I doubt that he has told his doctor everything, including the possibility that he’s experiencing depression. He sits by the hour and pouts.

This morning, when I tried to carry on a conversation, he refused to look at me. Finally, I said, “Do you want me to stop talking to you?” to which he replied, “Do whatever you want.”

Fred has never been easy to get along with, but his pouting is driving me crazy. I go out for lunch with friends occasionally, but because Fred doesn’t want visitors here, that’s my only respite. Any suggestions? I’m … READY TO BAIL IN MINNESOTA

If there is anything usual about Fred’s behavior, it should be reported to his doctor because it could be a sign of dementia or other illness. However, if it is just “more of the same” from this charmer you married, perhaps you should ask yourself seriously whether you’re better off with him or without him, and if this is how you want to live the rest of your life.

DEAR ABBY: Why do people write messages such as “Happy Birthday” to dead people in obituary columns in newspapers? I comprehend the idea of memoriams, but to wish someone who has died a happy birthday or anniversary seems ludicrous to me. Will you point this out to your readers and comment? – MYSTIFIED IN EASTERN MAINE

I’m printing your letter, but I wish you would open your heart a bit and stop being so judgmental.

People often do this because a special occasion such as a birthday or an anniversary makes them long for the person who died. They are still grieving over their loss and want their loved one to be remembered.

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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