My husband hasn’t called me pretty once in 40 years

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DEAR ABBY: On my first date with my husband, he told me his first wife was a “fox.” I thought, “How would I compete?” We are married now, but he has never told me I was pretty or anything close. He’s a great husband, but these things are not in his wheelhouse. 

Tonight, I was watching a game show and the winner introduced his “beautiful wife.” The woman had a facial deformity, but you could tell he meant what he said. It is hurtful that my husband never sees my inner beauty. We have been married 41 years now. I knew this was how he was when we married. He excuses it by saying this is the way he is. Yet I feel so very let down now. Can you comment? — UNPRETTY IN KENTUCKY

DEAR UNPRETTY: I’m surprised that after your suitor’s remark there was a second, third or fourth date. Why would he feel the need to describe his ex-wife to you? I will assume that in the ensuing 41 years you have told him how sad you are that he hasn’t AT LEAST mentioned that he appreciates your inner beauty and finer qualities and how lucky he feels to have you as his wife. 

“You knew how he was when you married him” is an excuse for his insensitivity, not an apology. I wish you would have elaborated on what makes him a great husband, because from where I sit, he’s insensitive, withholding and not a very nice person.

DEAR ABBY: I’m 22, and when I was in my teens, I was sheltered. I was often in trouble for something little. My phone was taken away from me for months, and I wasn’t allowed to do anything besides go to school. It caused me to develop social anxiety. 

I still live with my controlling mother and go only to work. I have no social life. I want to leave her, get a social life and experience new things, but every time I bring it up to her, she plays the victim and insists she needs me or belittles me and says I need her. 

She does things for me as an “act of kindness,” but it feels like she does it so I’ll need her or it will never get done without her. I don’t know how to get out of this situation. What is the best way to handle it? — SHELTERED IN TEXAS

DEAR SHELTERED: The longer your mother can prevent you from making friends and living a normal life for a person your age, the deeper her emotional dependence on you will become. 

Start saving your money until you have enough that you can find a place (with a roommate, if necessary), and then move. Do not ask for permission because your mother will give you a dozen reasons why you should postpone it. If you have other relatives who will guide you through this growth experience, reach out to them. 

You weren’t being “sheltered” in your teens; your wings were being systematically clipped to prevent you from becoming independent. Taking this step may feel daunting, but for your personal growth, you must find the courage to give it a try.

DEAR READERS: I wish you all a happy and healthy Fourth of July. Please drive carefully and celebrate safely.

P.S. Wishing you a Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mom! — LOVE, 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.

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