DEAR ABBY: I have a wonderful husband of 11 years and three children. "Carl" is attentive, caring and always puts the needs of our family first. You could say he is everyone's dream husband.
Long story short, I cheated on him while I was on vacation. It started as innocent flirtation, but then it went further. When "Brad" kissed me, I knew it wasn't going to stop there. Afterward, I not only didn't feel guilty, I did it again. I have been quietly communicating with Brad and sent him revealing photos and a graphic video of myself. He loved it, and we plan to meet again soon.
Please help me understand why I am cheating on such a wonderful husband. Shouldn't I feel guilty? What can I do to stop this before it gets out of control and Carl finds out? I really don't want to lose him. -- DON'T FEEL GUILTY
DEAR DON'T FEEL GUILTY: I have a flash for you. This fling is already out of control. While the excitement may have gone out of your marriage, I guarantee that when Carl gets wind of this -- start the countdown now -- you'll have an abundance of it.
If you really value your marriage, start devoting as much energy to working on it as you have been directing toward Brad. And pray that Brad is a good enough sport to delete the incriminating photos and video.
DEAR ABBY: I am in love with a man who is 28 years younger than I am. I'll call him Albert. We want to get married, but I'm not sure how much the age difference really matters. We have been seeing each other for almost a year, and I know he loves me. We haven't told anyone except a few people. My son, 28, and my daughter, 40, don't know how serious we are. My granddaughter knows everything.
I know my children may object because of the age difference and the fact that Albert is from another country (in Africa). To me, that doesn't matter, and it may not to them, but Albert is worried that Immigration may question us. We are both private people, and we want to be together as husband and wife.
I can't give him children, but there are other ways we can have a child of our own. I want my kids to be happy for me. I really need to know what you think. -- LOST IN LOVE IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR LOST: That Albert is afraid of the questions Immigration might ask raises a red flag for me. What I think is that if you choose to proceed -- as I suspect you probably will -- you should be very cautious doing so.
DEAR ABBY: I have a concern I suspect is shared by others. Keeping a journal has been shown to be of significant psychological benefit, but I do not want my private thoughts and concerns read by others after my death. Is this silly of me? I realize I'll be dead and gone, but the possibility of it happening inhibits me from recording my thoughts and feelings. Thanks for any insights you and/or your readers can offer. -- PRIVATE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR PRIVATE: Unless you have an executor you can trust to dispose of your journals when you are gone, my recommendation would be to keep your journals online, in the cloud, and able to be accessed only by you.
DEAR ABBY: My mom and many others share this problem. She refuses to throw away expired food. I'm not talking about something a few days past its "best used by" date; I'm talking YEARS.
Yesterday, I found a box of bread crumbs that had expired in 2001 (I took a picture). Mom insisted that they "never really go bad." I told her she had better hope she isn't the beneficiary of the life insurance policy of anyone who eats them or she could end up as an episode of "Snapped."
Seriously, though, this is a huge problem for the elderly. I hope you will encourage your readers to help their older friends and family members by cleaning out their fridge and cabinets. I always check the expiration date before eating anything at my mom's. Thank you! -- DATE CHECKER
DEAR DATE CHECKER: Your mother is mistaken. While it is safe to consume some foods a few weeks past their expiration date, other items begin to lose their nutritional value or spoil.
I'm glad you wrote. I'm printing your letter for other readers whose older relatives think the way your mother does, so they can check the expiration dates on packages in their relatives' cupboards (and remove any bulging or rusted cans that could cause botulism, a fatal illness).
DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Dumbstruck in Chicago" (April 24), who's dating a recently divorced man who was unfaithful to his ex-wife through multiple affairs and one-night stands with prostitutes, I cannot stay silent. That man screams of being a sex addict. He needs the help of a certified sex addiction therapist before he wrecks another woman's life.
"Dumbstruck" should RUN -- not walk -- to the nearest S-Anon meeting. It's a 12-step program for people who have been affected by another person's sexual behavior. These behaviors include infidelity by emotional or physical affairs, one-night stands with prostitutes, hanging out in strip clubs and porn addiction.
S-anon saved my sanity and gave me the courage to offer my husband of 30 years a choice -- recovery or divorce. Because he knew I was serious, he reluctantly went into Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) as well as therapy with a certified sex addiction therapist (CSAT) and has been sexually sober for five years. Our marriage is better today than I ever dreamed it would be.
Sex addiction is a disease and needs to be recognized as the cause of ruining many marriages and tearing families apart. Please, Abby, suggest SA and S-Anon when you reply to people who write you about these issues. -- ANONYMOUS IN KENTUCKY
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Thank you for writing. I have recommended the resources you mentioned in my column in the past. Sexaholics Anonymous and S-Anon have been in existence for more than 35 years and have helped many individuals stop unhealthy, destructive cycles of behavior. There are chapters nationwide. Readers, to find a meeting near you, visit sa.org or sanon.org.
DEAR ABBY: I was raped by a man I thought was a friend. Since then, I don't accept men's opinions, including those I work for. When they try to give me constructive criticism, I shut down.
I know I need therapy. How do I get past this thing and become a productive employee? I no longer want to be just another number and/or statistic. -- GETTING PAST THIS
DEAR GETTING PAST: Not all men are rapists, and not all rapists are men. What happened to you was appalling, and I hope you reported it to the police so it won't happen to another trusting friend of his.
You know you need therapy, so why not contact a rape treatment center and ask for help now? If you do, it will help you in many areas of your life, in addition to your work environment.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 18 and have been working a minimum-wage job for a little over a year. I've saved up a good bit of money, and it has taken a while to do, but I really want to travel. Should I be responsible and keep saving or use the money to buy a plane ticket? -- BROKE AND RESTLESS
DEAR B & R: I think you already know the answer to your question, but allow me to point out that the more money you save, the farther (and longer) you will be able to travel.
DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced 53-year-old woman. My children are grown, and I have a good career in HR and payroll. It's not my dream job, though. I applied to and was accepted into a Master of Architecture program, but I just found out they will accept only 12 credits from my associate's degree, which means I will need five years of full-time college to achieve my dream, while working full-time, of course.
I'll be 58 when I graduate and probably should be planning for retirement, not taking on $100,000 in student loans. Should I abandon this dream? Have I run out of time to take on such a lofty goal? Or should I just sit back and relax and travel now that my kids are grown? By the way, my retirement goal was age 72. -- NOT SURE IN MICHIGAN
DEAR NOT SURE: What you are contemplating takes a great deal of stamina. Some individuals in their 50s are up for the challenge, others not so much. Before you commit, talk to a guidance counselor at the school to explore what opportunities might be available to an older graduate with no work experience in the field.
Would you still plan to retire at 72? Your student loans could take many more years to pay off if you don't quickly become a high-earning architect, so consider your next move carefully and receive as much unbiased counsel as you can before making a final decision.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Oscar" for more than 30 years. He has been inattentive for more than 25 of those years. Over the last 15 years, I have found erectile dysfunction medications in his vehicles. Oscar claims he knows nothing about them. He lies constantly, even when the evidence is right in front of him. When I ask him if he is seeing other women, he claims to be impotent and tells me I am crazy.
I had an affair at 55 to try to raise my self-esteem. I once was very beautiful and even now, at age 68, I look quite good. I have stayed with my husband out of habit in spite of his hurtful comments and lack of affection.
Oscar has told me that if I need affection, "go get a job in a whorehouse." I have had three back surgeries in less than a year, and when I cry with pain, he gets annoyed and tells me to cut it out.
He's a narcissist and not much to look at. He goes out of his way to please strangers to make himself look good, but when I need a hand, I'm a "b----," and my husband doesn't lift a finger. Advice, please! -- UNHAPPY IN NEW YORK
DEAR UNHAPPY: You have put up with this for how long? Your relationship with this man (I hesitate to call him a "husband") is clearly loveless. Instead of asking me for advice, look within and ask yourself, "Is this really the way I want to spend the rest of my life?" When the chips are down and you need Oscar's help, he not only turns his back but also calls you a b---- for asking.
Because you know he's cheating, hire a private detective for a month and find out who with. Then talk to a lawyer about what your rights are as a wronged wife in New York.
DEAR ABBY: I have a neighbor who stops by several times a week unannounced and uninvited. What complicates the matter is that he has some form of mental disability. He's in his 20s and lives with his mother a block away from us. We tolerated his presence when he used to stop by only occasionally, but since meeting my 24-year-old daughter who is staying with us, his visits have increased to about five times a week.
When he comes over, he can be very demanding and rude. For example, if someone is sitting in "his seat," he assertively tells them they must get up. Other times he'll interrupt my daughter to tell her to come watch TV with him or sit next to him. In response, she tells him, "No, thank you."
We don't want to be rude, but his visits are making everyone uncomfortable and have become an issue of boundaries. How do we tell him and his mother we would like him to stop coming over? -- UNWELCOME NEIGHBOR IN FLORIDA
DEAR NEIGHBOR: That young man is lonely, but it should not be your responsibility to entertain him. Tell his mother exactly what you have written to me. It should be up to her to tell her son to stop dropping over. Depending upon how disabled he is, he should be working or in a program where he can do something constructive with his time.
DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law constantly talks to my husband about committing suicide because she's not happy with her life or her husband. My husband worries all the time and has offered to let her come stay with us for a while.
To me, this would be a nightmare. I can't be around her more than two or three days, and she has "hinted" that she would like to move in permanently with us. I have told my husband how I feel, but he's terrified she will follow through. How can I fix this? Should I tell her how I feel? -- SCARED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR SCARED: If your mother-in-law moves in with you, it will probably spell the end of your marriage. She needs more help than you or her son is qualified to give. Explain this to your husband. His mother may suffer from chronic depression or be trying to manipulate her son through emotional blackmail. If he really wants to help his mother, he will make sure she is evaluated by a licensed mental health professional.
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