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Dear Margo

Dear Margo column

Q. My husband is very reticent about emotion other than affection. He’s a very nice husband. I’m concerned, however, that he may be depressed. What’s immediately troubling is that when someone treats him badly, he swings around and tries to understand their point of view. This has happened more than once, but the most recent example is that we were blindsided by the foreclosure on our apartment building. We found out on the last day of the month — and by that time the landlord had left town with the next month’s rents and all of our deposits. It amounted to about $6,000 from us, and who knows how much from his other tenants?

We can’t recover our money — the guy is in bankruptcy. My husband keeps excusing the man. I can see how it probably happened. The guy fooled himself about his finances, had an extravagant wife, and lied to everyone in hopes that he could somehow pull the chestnuts out of the fire. But I’m still angry and feel violated. (We were fairly friendly with him and his wife.)

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My husband says he was a fool for not checking up on the guy, but he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and he just couldn’t say no to his wife. I say that lots of forgers, check kiters, embezzlers, and so on operate out of desperation, but that doesn’t justify their behavior. My husband says we should be nice to the couple if they show up again. I want nothing to do with them and wouldn’t let them in the door. I also doubt they would ever come back. Is this a sign of depression? It doesn’t feel normal to me.

A. I suggest you go online and look up the symptoms of depression. Forgiving being screwed by a friend is not one of them. At the very least, your husband is a good schnook. I happen to agree with your anger about the situation, but your husband is clearly conflict averse. (And he probably doesn’t have a stomachache about this, whereas I’m betting you do.) It would be good if you two could discuss the differences. Do you find him a passive wimp in other areas? Does he feel you have a short fuse? Both of you have a psychological source for your attitudes, and exploring them should give each of you a better understanding of the other.

Q. This is in response to the woman who doesn’t cook but wanted to invite several couples over for dinner. I suggest ordering whatever food you want to serve. If someone compliments you, laugh and say, “Thanks, I made it myself. The hardest part was opening the packaging in the (insert source here) containers.” This works whether you are ordering from your favorite pizza joint or a gourmet restaurant. People will laugh, and everyone can get down to the business of enjoying dinner together.

A. Thank you. I love humor as a way to deal with all kinds of things. Your suggestion reminds me of many years ago when my mother asked a renowned hostess for the recipe for the stuffed cabbage she served. The woman demurred and said, “Oh, it’s an old family recipe, and I don’t give it out.” A few weeks later, the hostess wrote again, probably prodded by a guilty conscience, and said, “Regarding the stuffed cabbage, the family is Stouffer’s.”

All letters must be sent by means of the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo.

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