Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My best friend “Owen’s” wife, “Shirley,” is a narcissist, and she’s driving everyone away from him. They have been married for 10 years. I’ve known Owen since high school. He has always been a quiet, easygoing guy. Shirley is a nightmare. She has berated him at work and has left him by himself on holidays, including birthdays. She orders him around, and she runs everything without hardly paying for anything. I am divorced and I’ve been through it.

I don’t know how to tell Owen that there’s a safety net for him. I know telling him his wife is a crazy narcissist and he should leave isn’t the answer. She has berated me for “getting in their marriage.” My friend is afraid he has no support if he leaves because Shirley has alienated him from all of his friends, and the only family he has are his parents and sister, who live many miles away. She has pushed me away from him as well. What can I say to Owen to make him understand that there are people here who are just waiting for him to ask for help without his feeling I am pressuring him? — HAS HIS BACK IN FLORIDA
DEAR HAS HIS BACK: There is more than one kind of partner abuse. Although most people associate the term with physical violence, another is emotional. It appears Owen is the victim of many years of emotional battery. Because he is scared, a group that might lend him emotional support is Stop Abuse for Everyone ( It’s a nonprofit that provides services for domestic violence victims of all ages, genders and sexual orientations and helps those who typically fall between the cracks of domestic violence services. Please mention it to Owen and remind him that he may not be as isolated as he fears, because his friends are waiting to support him when he is ready.
DEAR ABBY: My family doesn’t know I have cancer in my kidneys, and I don’t want to tell them. I feel that when the time comes, it comes, but my boyfriend keeps pushing me to tell them. I don’t want anybody to be worried about me or my health.
I’ve been the black sheep of the family since I was a child. Nobody was there for me except my grandmother, but she’s no longer living. I just feel my family doesn’t need to know anything. Am I being selfish about what I’m going through, wanting to keep my illness to myself and, when the time comes, let my boyfriend tell them what happened? — BLACK SHEEP IN NEW YORK
DEAR BLACK SHEEP: I’m sorry about your diagnosis. You are not being selfish. If your family hasn’t been there for you in the past, I understand your reluctance to court further rejection. While it might be nice to give them an opportunity to atone for their past behavior, there are no guarantees they will. Your health status is YOUR business and no one else’s, so don’t allow your boyfriend (as well-meaning as he may be) to push you into anything you don’t want at this point.
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.
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