DEAR ABBY: When I met my husband, he dressed impeccably — suits, sharp sport coats, monogrammed shirts, freshly pressed dress slacks, top-of-the-line leather shoes. Even when we went out with friends for a casual night or a movie, he still dressed well in current, fashionable clothing. I fell in love with a man who dressed beautifully (my father was known for his attire as well, which is perhaps why I like the successful look).
Now that he's retired, his jeans always look dingy (they're not dirty; they just look like they are), his sneakers look worn, and he just doesn't care about his appearance like he once did. When we go out together, I'm embarrassed.
I love the man who used to care about his appearance, not this retired, sloppy-looking guy. If I complain, he tells me I'm being ridiculous. I don't expect him to look like he once did (office attire), but he should at least look current, crisp and clean. Am I wrong to be embarrassed?
— LIKES THE OLD LOOK
DEAR LIKES: I wish you had mentioned how long you and your husband have been married, because over the last 40 years styles have changed. People of both sexes dress much more casually. Your husband may have dressed more formally years ago because there was a dress code at work and it was expected with the crowd with whom you socialized or the places you went. At this point, he may feel that because he's retired he has earned the right to dress "comfortably."
Yes, you are wrong to be embarrassed. What is important is how your husband feels about himself. How he presents himself is a reflection only on him — not you. You might suggest a shopping trip so the two of you can update those jeans and sneakers, but if he won't bite, you would be wise to let him off the hook.
DEAR ABBY: My significant other and I have five children between us. He has a son and daughter from a previous marriage, I have a daughter from a previous relationship, and we have two daughters together.
I love all our children equally, but my significant other complains nonstop about my daughter from the previous relationship. He nags about every little thing she does, which he never does with his own children. I have talked to him many times about the favoritism he shows toward his kids over my daughter. I understand she's not perfect, but how can I get him to treat all of the children equally?
— EQUALLY CONFUSED IN TEXAS
DEAR EQUALLY CONFUSED: Children aren't stupid. In fact, they are very perceptive. I'm sure your daughter recognizes that the man her mother lives with doesn't like her and treats her differently.
If you can't get through to him that what he's doing is unfair and damaging to your child, and that he needs to tone it down, then explain to her the reason why it's happening. And if necessary, enlist the help of a licensed family therapist to change the dynamic.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.