DEAR ABBY: I recently married a man with kids. I have kids as well. Combining two families is hard, but we’re figuring it out.

When we were dating, he would text me during the day to tell me he loved me. Now that we’re married, I never hear from him during the day. I have told him numerous times that I enjoyed those texts and how much they brightened my day. He always promises to do better, but doesn’t. I tried texting him instead and only got emojis in return.

I came to the conclusion that that’s just how he is, and I love him enough to overlook it. Well, last night I needed to use his phone because my battery was dead. When I texted his daughter to pick up something on the way home, I saw that he texts her every day telling her he loves her.

I’m afraid to say anything because I don’t want him to think I was snooping or that I’m jealous of his kids, but it really hurt my feelings. I’ve been hurt in the past, so he knows I’m somewhat insecure.

Should this bother me? My best friend says I may be depressed. Does it sound like it? We both have custody of all of our kids, so it’s not like he doesn’t see them every day. Their mom is in their lives — they just prefer not to stay at her house and only hang out with her some. — TEXTING IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TEXTING: Whether or not this ”should” bother you isn’t the point. It DOES bother you. You have expressed to your husband what you need, and he has chosen to ignore it. It’s almost as if, now that you two are married, he feels he has ”closed the sale” and doesn’t need to put forth more effort.


I don’t know whether your friend is right in her estimation that you are depressed. But if you are, I can understand why. Rather than brood, tell your husband you needed to use his phone because yours wasn’t working, and how what you saw made you feel. It’s great that he loves his daughter, but he should also be communicating the same to you.

DEAR ABBY: My wife, ”Nancy,” and I are working on fixing our marital problems. She confides in an ”older wise woman” at church who has been telling Nancy she’s a lousy Christian because she stayed married to me.

How can I defend my wife from this defamation of character that makes her feel weak? I told Nancy to avoid her. I have told the older wise woman to leave us alone. Nothing has worked. — FRUSTRATED IN THE PEW

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your wife needs a better role model. Point out to her that Christians should not judge and insult others. Allow me to offer a suggestion that may make your wife feel instantly better: Change pews.

DEAR ABBY: When someone anonymously pays your tab in a restaurant, and the staff drops enough hints to reveal the identity of this person, what’s the protocol for the recipient? Should I have walked over and thanked that person? My day was definitely made brighter by this kind gesture. I will certainly try to do something similar when I can. — SURPRISED IN COTTONWOOD, ARIZ.

DEAR SURPRISED: The protocol is the same as with any other gift. A show of appreciation is always welcome, and it would not have been a breach of etiquette to offer one.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: ”Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and ”More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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