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Setting the record straight  on addressing gay spouses

Updated: August 11, 2012 6:16AM

Dear Abby: I am a longtime reader. This is the first time I have ever written to you, and I’m hoping you will have an answer for me. I’d like to know the proper way to address a surviving gay spouse in the unfortunate event of a death.

Is a gay man who has lost his husband a widower or a widow (seeing as he lost his husband and not a wife)? Is the title of the survivor dependent on his or her gender or the gender of their partner? I’d like to know the proper terminology. For the record, I support gay marriage because I believe in true love in all its forms.

Hannah in Carrollton, Ga.

Dear Hannah: Regardless of sexual orientation, if a male loses his spouse, he is a widower, and if a woman loses her spouse, she is a widow. The terms don’t change because the union was a same-sex relationship.

Dear Abby: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago. I started a combined therapy about a year ago — individual and a dialectical behavioral therapy group. Everything has been going great, and I have learned a lot about myself. The problem is, I have become very attracted to my therapist and, as a result, I feel it is interfering with my treatment.

I am confused as to why I am having these feelings. Is it part of my bipolar disorder, or something else? Surely, this would be something I would bring up to my therapist, but unfortunately, I’m embarrassed.

Abby, what do you suggest I do in a situation like this? I feel like putting a hold on therapy for a while because of this, but I know that I still need it.

Needs Therapy in Illinois

Dear Needs Therapy: Please don’t use this as an excuse to stop your therapy. Your feelings are very common in psychotherapy. The term for it is “transference.”

Because you’re finding it distracting, it’s important that you discuss this privately with your therapist. It won’t be the first time he has heard it, I guarantee.

Dear Abby: My husband makes his living doing general construction. We have no employees. We get along fantastic, except for one point of contention.

Over the years we have made investments in tools for his trade. Another family member constantly asks to borrow them for personal projects. My husband willingly lends them out. If he needs that tool for a job, he will go without, reschedule his work or make a special trip to retrieve it.

I say the only way he should lend out his tools is if there is a slim to zero chance at all of his needing it himself, and if he does, then it must be returned immediately.

Tools of the Trade

Dear T.O.T.T.: Your husband appears to be a very nice person, but providing for his family should come first. His tools are his livelihood, just as those belonging to a barber, beautician, seamstress or doctor would be. Because his relative has the money, he (or she) should inquire about renting the necessary tool from a home improvement store, or search for “tool rentals” in the Yellow Pages or online.

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