Dear Abby: My boyfriend and I met and started dating 10 years ago. After about four years, during a very turbulent and toxic time in our relationship, I found out I was pregnant. When I told him, his response was very cold, and we separated. I terminated the pregnancy, as my life was in shambles and I had no way to even carry a child to term.
We reconciled after a year and now have a happy family with our son and another on the way. A woman he had been seeing during that time became pregnant, and her son looks identical to my boyfriend’s childhood pictures. I have never talked to him about this. But I find it very painful to think that one day my children and the child of the woman will learn of each other through ancestry testing or some other way.
Should I speak with him about my suspicion and fear of the pain for our children? Should I consult a therapist to try to cope with this fear before addressing him or try to move past it on my own?
— Fearing the Future
Dear Fearing: Discuss this with your boyfriend privately, at a time when you are both calm and relaxed. If you feel you need the emotional support of a therapist in order to work up the courage to do that, by all means do so. Because of DNA testing, the scenario about which you’re concerned may very well happen, so it’s wise to be prepared in advance. But please don’t worry about causing your children “pain.” If they aren’t made aware of the other child, their reaction is more likely to be one of surprise. Because DNA “reunions” are becoming more common, it’s less of a scandal than it was years ago.
Dear Abby: My husband has terrible oral hygiene. He brushes his teeth at night before going to bed but won’t brush them in the morning. It’s disgusting. About a year ago, he chipped a front tooth. I have asked him over and over to please get it taken care of. My requests are being ignored. The damage has now become much worse and it’s really noticeable. It doesn’t bother him.
Nice teeth have always been important to me. When I try to talk to him about it, he walks away. It’s to the point that I no longer want to go anywhere with him because it’s embarrassing. We have an event to go to soon and I’m dreading it.
This may seem trivial, but I see the dentist on a regular basis and he hasn’t gone in years. It isn’t the money; he has no problem spending money on his toys. Please tell me how to handle this. It’s causing some major issues between us. Am I asking for too much?
— Embarrassed in Wisconsin
Dear Embarrassed: People sometimes let their dental health lapse because they don’t see what others do when they speak or smile. Your husband may have a fear of dentists, or think you are nagging him for the pleasure of it. If his damaged tooth is ignored much longer, he may wind up losing it.
You might be able to get your point across if you film him with your cellphone while he’s speaking, laughing, etc., and show him what you and others have been seeing. (If that doesn’t help, suggest that because of the upsurge in COVID variants, he wear a mask to the event.)
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 DearAbby.com.