DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 15 years to the sweetest man in the world. We love each other, we like each other, and I feel truly fortunate.

I was recently involved in a conversation with some co-workers who were discussing marriage, and they asked me what I would do if my husband left me. I told them I trust my husband completely, and I know he would never leave me.

I was then informed that I am living in a fairy tale! The rest of the conversation was spent trying to convince me that my husband will eventually leave me, even though none of these people has ever met him. He has never cheated on me. I tried to explain that there are still some decent men in the world, but they refused to accept it.

Abby, I prefer not to live my life looking for negative things because I believe it taints relationships. I believe that if I continue to view my marriage as blessed and wonderful, it will be. Why can’t people allow others to be happy? What prevents these people from seeing good instead of bad and, more important, why can’t they see that there are couples in good marriages who are committed to making them work? – HAPPILY MARRIED IN CORPUS CHRISTI

DEAR HAPPILY MARRIED: Have you never heard the expression “misery loves company”? Some people are so dysfunctional that the only way they can make themselves feel better is to make others feel worse. When they see a happily married couple, it reminds them that in some way they failed or chose someone who failed them.

You have a healthy, optimistic attitude and a successful marriage. Please do not allow your co-workers to continue to spread their negativity, or sooner or later it may affect you. Avoid them, live your life, continue to appreciate what you have, and let them wallow in their suspicion and discontent.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I host Christmas at our home. We have always served the meals buffet-style. Please tell me how to address the problem of relatives who move down the serving line constantly licking their fingers and then touching the utensils of all the other dishes. This may not be a concern to everyone, but to us it is unsanitary and unappetizing.

While we’re on the subject, whatever happened to people washing their hands before they eat? Please hurry with your answer. The holidays are almost here, and I need a solution. – PICKY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR PICKY: While it’s advisable for people to wash their hands before eating, not everyone does – and unless you want to assume the role of “Mommy” and pass out anti- bacterial hand wipes as people get in line, you may have to accept that some of your guests won’t do it.

As to how to handle the “contaminated” utensils, consider serving the food cafeteria-style, with you and your spouse doling it out to each of your guests. This should eliminate the “ick” factor.

DEAR ABBY: I know this issue has been addressed before in your column, but now it has happened to me. My adult son died a year ago. It was very sudden. I try not to constantly talk about him, but when I meet people for the first time and I am asked if I have children, how should I respond? I have one other child, an adult daughter. – WONDERING IN OHIO

DEAR WONDERING: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your son. When someone asks if you have children, it is perfectly acceptable to tell the questioner that you have two – a daughter and a son in heaven.

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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