Dear Abby: Navigating old and enduring relationships in a new marriage

DEAR ABBY: I recently married "Joel," a man I love very much. While we have our differences, we are solid in the knowledge that we love each other and are in this marriage for the long haul.

Our wedding pictures just arrived and, after going through them together, I asked my husband to create a digital album to share with our family and friends, as I'm very busy with work. I just had a moment to look through the album he created and saw he had omitted a picture of my male best friend "Logan" and me hugging as Joel and I left the reception. It was a very special moment for me because I grew up with Logan and consider his family an extension of mine.

When I explained this to my husband, he expressed that he understands. I feel very hurt that this picture was omitted. Joel has expressed in the past that he isn't comfortable with me hugging males who are not family members. It has been a point of contention between us, and after a couple of long talks on the subject I thought we had reached a resolution.

Before the wedding, I found out Joel still had pictures of ex-girlfriends in his phone. When I confronted him about it, he said he kept them for memories but would delete them, which he did. Now that we're married I have noticed he brings up his past dating life a lot. I have asked him to stop, but he keeps doing it.

I feel like this is a double standard. I must distance myself from male friends, but Joel gets to keep his connections with ex-girlfriends. I don't know how to broach this with him because it is so early in our marriage. I could use some advice.


DEAR NEWLYWED: You and your husband are overdue for a serious discussion. There's a difference between mentioning one's past dating life and maintaining connections to those individuals. IF Joel is staying in touch with them, he is employing a double standard and you need to talk it over. You may have to keep reminding him that talking about his past romances makes you uncomfortable and ask why he persists in spite of knowing it does.

The photo of you and Logan hugging at the end of the reception may have been omitted because it wasn't a memory of your wedding day that your husband felt was relevant. Now that you have explained its significance, ask Joel to add it if that's possible. But do it when you are both calm and relaxed so it isn't contentious and you can both clear the air.

DEAR ABBY: I was recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. I have been very good at adopting a no-sugar and low-carb diet. The problem occurs when I eat outside my home. At birthday parties, I am filled with anxiety around eating. If I say no to the sugary desserts, one of three things is guaranteed to happen: I'm accused of trying to be skinny, told the food is wasted because I don't eat it, or I feel guilty because I acquiesced. I find myself refusing offers to eat out because I dread the inevitable. What can I say to people so that they will respect my food restrictions?


DEAR F.A.R.: All you have to say is, "My doctor recently diagnosed me with pre-diabetes and I don't want it to progress any further. So, no thank you!"

DEAR ABBY: After 40 years of marriage, I just found out my husband has been having an emotional affair, in addition to an actual girlfriend he had 15 years ago. I forgave him the last time. This time, he has only said he is wrong, but he hasn't offered an apology, nor is he remorseful.

How can this be resolved? I have removed my wedding rings and refuse to go to his family gatherings. I have read that if he doesn't have remorse and ask for forgiveness, it just won't work. Moreover, he blames me for his poor, impulsive choices. Then he minimizes what he did and tells me I'm "overreacting."

How do I gain his respect? How do you convince someone how badly they have hurt you, and get them to make better choices?


DEAR WRONGED: It may be time for some self-examination. Ask yourself what your husband may be looking for in these strictly emotional affairs. (I assume they aren't physical, or you would have written otherwise.)

If you want to stay married to him, put those wedding rings back on and tell him it is apparent that you two aren't communicating with each other effectively. Tell him you want to work to improve your marriage with the help of a licensed marriage and family counselor, and make an appointment. During those sessions, it will become apparent to him that you have been deeply hurt. However, be prepared to hear some critical comments about you from him. For many couples, this has healed an unhealthy relationship.

DEAR ABBY: It's been more than three years since I have spoken to my former best friend. We were best friends for nearly 15 years. The friendship ended when we were in our early 20s because she didn't like the men I was dating. I also didn't agree with some of the choices she was making, which led to some nasty arguments.

I communicate with her through social media as "small talk," but it feels like I'm speaking to a coworker. I miss my best friend. I saw her not long ago at a mall, and she didn't look like herself. I was worried for her.

My life has evolved, and I feel I have grown up for the better. I would like to share those experiences with someone I considered a best friend for so long. Would it be wrong to bring up the past? How do I share with her that "the past was the past" and I want to get back to where we used to be?


DEAR LOST FRIEND: Call the woman, tell her you saw her at the mall and ask how she's doing. Suggest the two of you have lunch sometime to catch up. If she agrees, during the lunch tell her you miss the close relationship you once had. Do NOT mention what caused the chill in your relationship or the fact that she doesn't look like herself.

If she brings it up, listen and tell her you think you have both grown since then. I hope it works and you can patch things up, but do not count on it, because a lot of things have happened in both of your lives since the old days.

About Dear Abby

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.