Dear Abby: Man’s tattoos draw fire from disapproving wife

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2021

DEAR ABBY: My tattoos are destroying my marriage, and I just don’t understand why. I’m a 56-year-old elementary art teacher and the father of three grown children. Since I was young, I have loved the artistic expression of tattoos, and I ALWAYS envisioned having them, lots of them.

It had been about 10 years since my last one, but I decided to get another one. Telling my wife about wanting another one was awful. My wife of 28 years hates tattoos. We have terrible arguments every time I get one. I have covered my entire upper body. (Other than my hands, none of them are visible while I’m wearing my work clothes.) I love them.

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I just returned home with roses tattooed on my hands, and my wife is ready to leave me. She says I have gone too far with all my ink. I’m a responsible and respectful person. I don’t drink, smoke, gamble or have any destructive vices. I’m highly regarded as a leader and role model at my school.

Friends, colleagues — even strangers — compliment me on my tattoos. However, you would think my tattoos and I are the devil in my wife’s eyes. Am I the problem, or is her perception of tattoos the issue? Please, any advice would be greatly accepted. I can’t understand her stance on this. — ART IN LAS VEGAS

DEAR ART: It is your body, and you have the right to do what you want with it. While not everyone is a fan of body art, I assume that you had tattoos before you and your wife married. It is possible that over the years, when you told your wife you were getting more, knowing her feelings about it, it came across to her as disrespectful of her feelings. As you have acquired more and more, it may have felt to her like one insult piled on another.

Having never spoken with your wife, I can’t guess her reason for talking about leaving you, but it’s important you ask why those roses were the last straw. (Am I correct in assuming there’s no place else on your “canvas” that hasn’t been illustrated?)


DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married 20-plus years. His mother has never liked me. I have never done anything to her or her husband.

My father-in-law passed away two years back, and my mother-in-law is older. If something happens to her, how am I supposed to react? I know I have to be there for my husband. My husband and I get along wonderfully, but at the same time, I would feel like a hypocrite if I went to her funeral. We haven’t spoken in over a year.

Other family members have repeated things she has said about me as well as my family. I put up with her behavior for years. I only quit talking to her or going around her a year ago. — HATES HYPOCRISY IN MICHIGAN

DEAR HATES: Funerals are for the living. Do not succumb to the temptation to use your mother-in-law’s as a platform to demonstrate your dislike of her. Attend the funeral and comfort your husband, who likely will be hurting and need your support. And when you do, ABOVE ALL, refrain from humming, “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.”


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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)