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Dear Abby 2/28
After long life together empty nesters drift apart
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    DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for 35 years. The first 30 were pretty much devoted to raising children.
    Now that we are both retired and empty nesters, I realize just how focused our lives have been on family issues. While I have developed many interests, "Fred," has none besides solitary activities. He isn't interested in most of the things that I enjoy, but offers no alternatives. Consequently, I've learned to make social plans that do not include him.
    I do spend a good deal of time at home with him, but I am feeling increasingly detached. I would like to have more of a life with Fred, but must I give up the relationships and activities that have provided a needed balance in my life in order to revive our marriage? -- MRS. COUCH POTATO
    DEAR MRS. POTATO: And what's to guarantee that if you give up your friendships and activities that your marriage will be "revived"? Marriage is about compromise. Before this situation goes any further, you and Fred should talk to a counselor about the state of your union.
    People who are anti-social may be extremely narrow in their range of interests, or they could be depressed. I'm advising you to find out now into which category your husband falls before you sever your social contacts.
    DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter, "Amy," was recently dumped by text message, and I am extremely frustrated with how to address her tears and heartbreak. Text messaging and instant messaging seem to be the only ways that young people communicate these days. This young man took the coward's way out.
    Amy and I have had several heated discussions about it, mostly ending with us agreeing to disagree. My perspective is, when two people are ready to end a relationship, they should face the other person and talk about the reasons why it isn't working. Hers is, "That's just the way we do things now." Any thoughts? -- KATHY IN SPIRIT LAKE, IOWA
    DEAR KATHY: You are both right. Communication is a skill that people learn through practice. And I, too, am concerned that a generation of young people isn't learning to communicate face-to-face. It's almost as though there is a fear of intimacy, and the signals that people send through facial expression and gesture are being lost because of over-dependence on technology.
    Although "that's the way we do things now" may be your daughter's perspective, my question to her would be, "Now that you know how terrible being dumped that way feels, would you do it to somebody else?"

    DEAR ABBY: When someone sneezes multiple times, do I have to "bless them" after every sneeze, at the end of all sneezes or only after the first sneeze? -- BLESSED OUT IN MENOMONEE FALLS, WIS.
    DEAR BLESSED OUT: It depends upon how superstitious you are. The custom of "blessing" a person who sneezes originated during the Middle Ages, when people believed that when someone sneezed their souls left their bodies for an instant. Saying, "God bless you" ensured that the soul would jump back in, rather than be "lost." If you're really superstitious, then you should utter the blessing every time someone sneezes.
    However, today most people say it only once after the first sneeze.
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