DEAR ABBY: I moved to Australia 10 years ago. It has been a fantastic adventure, but I feel drawn home. Complicating things is the fact that I have a same-sex Australian partner. Because gay marriage is not federally recognized in the United States, he has no possibility of legally emigrating there. His skills are not sufficient.
To move back to the U.S. would destroy my home, which is a happy one. On the other hand, I come from a large, close family, and my parents are entering their 70s. I miss my family and my culture every day, and feel torn between my family in the U.S. and my partner in Australia.
I have felt this way for a few years. I feel unable to settle down and start living or feel comfortable in my life until I work this out. The thought of not being around my family in the long term is unbearable. The thought of leaving my partner is equally painful. I have tried in vain to find an answer and feel overwhelmed. Help! - TRANS-PACIFIC READER
DEAR TRANS-PACIFIC: I don't know your financial situation, but why must this be an "either/or" situation? You're happily settled in a beautiful country and enjoying a loving relationship. I assume you also have a well-paying job.
Your dilemma might be solved by visiting your parents more often, particularly since their health is still good. If that changes, you could return to the U.S. for a more extended period. Until the laws in the U.S. regarding same-sex marriage change, that's what you will have to do unless you're willing to sacrifice your relationship.
DEAR ABBY: Is it proper to tip your tattoo artist or piercer? They provide a service, just as a hairdresser would. I have never seen this addressed before. Your input would be helpful. - CURIOUS IN UPSTATE NEW YORK
DEAR CURIOUS: Tattoos and piercings are considered works of art, and it's not unusual for a customer to present the artist with a gratuity commensurate with the degree of satisfaction the person feels with the results, the time it took to create it and the intricacy of the design. In lieu of money, sometimes gifts such as art books, spiritual artifacts or jewelry are given to the artist.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Wade," and I went into a convenience store near our home that we frequent regularly. A new employee - a pretty, much younger girl - stared at Wade with an expression of recognition and surprise on her face. When I asked him what that was about, he laughed it off and said I was "imagining things."
The next time we saw her, Wade acted nervous and started talking fast, as if trying to distract me. He seemed to be avoiding eye contact with her. She ignored me while obviously trying to lock eyes with Wade. The third time, she again ignored me but smirked and giggled while we were checking out. Then she shouted, "See ya later!" to my husband as we were walking out the door. When I turned, I caught Wade glaring at her.
When I asked why he did it, he replied, "I looked at her like that because she was acting like an idiot." When I asked why she'd be acting like an idiot if they didn't know each other, he started screaming at me. He called me crazy and threatened to leave me if I bring the subject up again.
Should I ask her why she seems so amused by my husband? And why is he angry at me? - SMELLS SOMETHING FISHY
DEAR SMELLS: By all means ask, because I'll bet she is dying to tell you. Your husband may have been seeing her or someone she knows. He attacked you because he felt guilty about something and didn't want to discuss it.
It proves the truth of the adage, "The best defense is a strong offense." Believe me, you have my sympathy, but you need to get to the bottom of this, so don't put it off.
DEAR ABBY: What do you call additions to your family that result from second or third marriages? Our daughter died several years ago. I refer to her widower as my son-in-law, but what term should I use when I introduce his new wife? She has two daughters from a previous marriage - sweet girls who call me "Granddad." Technically, they are not my granddaughters - but what are they?
These are just two examples of modern relationships that seem to require a new vocabulary. I have tried searching the Internet for answers without luck. Any suggestions? - FAMILY MAN IN TEXAS
DEAR FAMILY MAN: When introducing your late daughter's husband and his wife, try this: "This is my son-in-law 'Sam' and his wife, 'Virginia.' " If you're asked for clarification, which I doubt will happen, give more details. As to the woman's daughters who are not blood related to you, because they call you "Granddad," refer to them as your granddaughters and leave it at that.
DEAR ABBY: Where does the priest get the ashes for Ash Wednesday? - MARY IN VISTA, CALIF.
DEAR MARY: Traditionally, palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned to create the ashes, and those ashes are retained for the next year's Ash Wednesday. Some people keep the palm fronds from the last Palm Sunday tucked behind a cross or a religious picture in their home and bring them to be burned. I have this on good authority. (When I told a priest I would have guessed they were left over from the Inquisition, he laughed.)
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.