Q: Fourteen years ago, when my daughter was 4, my older sister, "Jennifer," was visiting. She was conversing with people at my dinner table, and my 4-year-old daughter was seated next to her. Jennifer was swearing and using vulgar language. (When I was younger, we could never even say "jeez" in front of Jennifer's children.)
My daughter tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Aunt Jenny, you shouldn't be saying words like that in front of me." My sister turned to her and said, "Listen, you little s---. You can't tell me what to say and not to say!" I haven't spoken to Jennifer much since that evening. She sent me a T-shirt soon afterward that said, "Get over it!"
Well, 14 years later, I still haven't. She never apologized to me or my daughter. My niece (Jennifer's daughter) thinks we should talk. I can't imagine anything I could have done in my younger years to have her retaliate in such a way. My niece says I should just let it go. Help! It still bothers me.
Sue in Oxford, Conn.
A: Your sister should have apologized, but obviously she wasn't big enough to do it. What happened 14 years ago was extremely regrettable. However, enough water has flowed under the bridge since then to have washed away your sister's sins. I agree with your niece. It's time to let bygones be bygones. However, when your sister is under your roof, never give her anything stronger than apple juice.
A marriage in trouble
Q: My life has been a roller coaster. I am 27, have three lovely kids and am in my fourth marriage. I have finally found my soul mate. However, our relationship is rocky.
I love this man with all my heart, but we do not have what I consider a true marriage. We have our own money, pay our own bills and live our own lives. How can a marriage work like that? We have our ups and downs just like everyone else. One of our arguments recently became heated, and I don't know how to let it go and move on.
Will my marriage work? I am desperate! This is my fourth, and I really want it to work. What can I do?
On a Roller Coaster in Paris, Texas
A: Ask your husband if he also wants the marriage to work - because if the answer is yes, you both have a lot of work ahead of you. Your relationship sounds more like a partnership than a marriage. And if the argument you mentioned escalated into a physical altercation, there are serious anger issues to consider.
If your husband is willing, the two of you should start talking with a licensed marriage and family counselor as soon as possible. If he's not, then consult one alone, because you may have married the same man four times.
They tell tall tales
Q: I am curious about why so many people exaggerate their height. A lot of movie actors and professional athletes do this. They all say they are taller than they actually are. What gives?
Dan in Perth Amboy, N.J.
A: They mistakenly associate height with masculinity, and therefore sex appeal. Of course, the true measure of a man is from his eyebrows up, and sex appeal is based far more upon what's between the ears than on the tape measure.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips.
Universal Press Syndicate