I usually think your advice is pretty good, but your answer to "Homebody in Norfolk, Va.," who didn't want to travel with her husband, was way off. If she doesn't like to travel, she shouldn't be forced to just because that's what her husband wants. She has every right to live her life the way she wishes, and not be coerced to do something she doesn't like just because she's married.
Travel is not pleasurable to everyone. Flying is a big pain in the butt and can even be harmful to a person's health if he or she is susceptible to deep-vein thrombosis. Hotels are not like home. The beds are uncomfortable, and restaurant food for every meal can be fattening.
You should have recommended instead a session or two of counseling so both parties can get their feelings out in the presence of a neutral party. Maybe then the husband will be more accepting of his wife's preferences.
M.M. in Kingston, N.Y.
Although I didn't intend to be, you are not the only reader who felt my reaction to "Homebody's" problem was harsh.
You are usually sensitive to problems and concerns, yet you assume that "Homebody" simply refuses to go. I sometimes become panicked just going on errands, out of town, etc. To go to faraway lands promotes whole new fears.
My advice would be for "Homebody" to explain to her husband why she doesn't want to go, and then reach a compromise. If he really wants to spend time with her, I'm sure he won't care where they go. Perhaps they could find a destination that both of them would be happy with.
It hurts to be paralyzed with fears and panic. It may not be hurting their marriage now, but without understanding, it could harm it later.
Staying Put in Texas
Although I am all for compromise, I suspect compromise might be difficult for someone who hungers to visit the game parks in Africa, ride a gondola on the canals in Venice or walk on the Great Wall of China. Since your problem is fears and panic, please read the next letter carefully:
I, too, was a homebody. Now I am divorced. I went to very few restaurants, complained about traffic and crowds, attended no concerts or movies. After nine years of putting up with my phobia, my wife divorced me. I attempted to save our marriage by seeking help from my doctor. He prescribed medication that saved me from becoming a hermit.
Even though my marriage is over, I am doing much better. I now venture out and do things. Through counseling and proper medication I have become a better parent to my 13-year-old son. Please urge "Homebody" to consult her doctor.
Bob in Indiana
Thank you for sharing your personal experience. I'm glad to know that you received effective help for your problem and are doing better.
I think "Homebody" was gracious to suggest that her husband go with a friend or family member. I love to travel and so does my husband, but sometimes we don't share the same enthusiasm for a destination. When that happens, we find other travel companions who share our interests and everyone has a good time. This summer my husband went to Greenland while I visited Italy.
Carla in Livermore, Calif.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate