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Dear Abby

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DEAR ABBY: I'm a 38-year-old woman who used to be nice. Then I had a three-year affair. Knowing I'm one of America's bigger fools -- and for such a long time -- is infuriating, but I finally saw the light. The only person I think is a bigger fool than me is his wife.

Some "highlights" of our romance: He gave me an STD during spring break, I found "Ally's" phone number in his contact file, and I saw a blonde in a white convertible drop him off in front of his house at 9:15 in the morning, which, according to him, "never happened." My eyes don't lie. After I was struck by a car in a crosswalk, he never once called me to see how I was. After that, his teenage son followed me around town flipping me off and shouting obscenities at me. There's more, but I'll spare you.

Please warn your readers to stay away from affairs. They demean you, your mate will lose trust in you, and the person you're having the affair with -- can that person ever really be trusted? Won't he cheat on you, too? This "wonderful" man is an elementary school teacher. (Think about what he is teaching your kids, folks!)

Like I said, I used to be nice. I used to care and trust. No more! This man changed not only my entire life but also my family's. Will I ever forgive MYSELF?

P.S. I have spent thousands of dollars for counseling. It's a lot of money, but I am worth it. -- FINALLY SAW THE LIGHT

DEAR FINALLY: Love may be blind, but I'm pleased you finally saw the light. I'm also pleased that you realized you needed professional help to regain some self-esteem. Your bitterness jumps off the pages of your letter. If you work on that with your counselor, too, it will be money well spent.

DEAR ABBY: I was widowed 10 years ago after 34 years of marriage. My late husband's sister, "Barbara," who is also now a widow with no children or other family, considers me her sister and friend. Abby, I have NEVER felt close to her. We are very different, and neither my husband nor I had any real contact with her other than occasional holiday gatherings.

Barbara is a domineering, self-pitying hypochondriac with no friends left she hasn't alienated. We live fairly near each other, and I have the feeling since the loss of her husband three years ago that she's expecting me to be her companion and caregiver going into her elder years. I'd slit my wrists first!

I married my husband "until death do us part," not his family. I don't want to hurt Barbara's feelings; I just want to enjoy my own senior years. How can I gently remove myself from Barbara's game plan? -- DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS

DEAR DIDN'T SIGN UP: "Gently" remove yourself from Barbara's game plan by being increasingly less available. She may be strong-willed and domineering, but you do NOT have to knuckle under to her wishes or be a dumping ground for her problems.

If she asks to get together, be busy. If she's depressed, suggest grief counseling, which has helped so many. If she suggests you help her going into her declining years, explain that won't be possible because you plan to travel. You do not have to be cruel or heavy-handed about standing up for yourself. Just hang on to your sense of humor and keep your distance.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing because I'm in a tough situation and not sure what to do. I was recently told by a family member that my 24-year-old son is gay. (He hasn't given me any indication that he is, other than not dating anyone for several years.) He had a bad experience with a girl in his teens and I assumed that was why he hasn't dated.

My question for you is, should I confront him about it or wait until he tells me? I have come to terms with the possibility and will stand by him no matter what. I am also concerned that his father (we are divorced) will disown him if he finds out. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. -- MOM IN OHIO

DEAR MOM: It would be interesting to know why this relative thinks your son is gay. Did your son tell the relative? I don't think you should "confront" your son. In time his sexual orientation will become apparent whether he's gay, straight, bi, asexual, etc. It should be his choice to reveal it -- or not.

P.S. If he is gay, your ex-husband's inability to accept his son, regardless of his sexual orientation, may be the reason he hasn't spoken up.

DEAR ABBY: I am a lover of and rescuer of cats (and dogs). I rescued a beautiful and loving cat with horrible wounds on his neck. I got him neutered, his wounds cleaned and sewn up, and became attached to him. I had asked my elderly neighbor if she wanted him. She said she'd think about it. She visited him at my house as his wounds healed, and a few months later she took the cat.

When I visited her a few months after that, I saw she was feeding him so many treats that he was (I'm not exaggerating) morbidly obese. When I told her so, she got insulted. She didn't believe me so she took the cat for a checkup at the local veterinarian.

The vet told her the same thing in no uncertain terms, and to feed the cat no treats and a certain low-fat dry cat food. With my help she ordered the food and I measured it into bags to make it easier for her, as she gets a bit confused.

I weigh the cat every Monday and he has lost a bit of weight already. Slowly is the best way. But she's not pleasant to work with and is fighting me all the way. I'm a patient person and do my best, but sometimes it's hard not to lose my temper. Any suggestions? -- CARES ABOUT FUR BABIES

DEAR CARES: Unfortunately, we don't always get to know people until we see them in action, as you are now doing with this neighbor. For that cat's sake, hang onto your temper and continue to help her and her fur baby. If she's becoming increasingly confused, it is important that someone not only keep an eye on the feline in that household, but also her -- to ensure that she is able to take care of herself.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I divorced five years ago. We have four grown children. He wanted to sell the house, but I ended up buying him out because two of our kids were still living at home.

Fast-forward to now: We are expecting our third grandkid. Since the divorce, he doesn't want to co-parent with me. He keeps saying we are no longer a family. The holidays and main events are now celebrated separately. I am increasingly sad about this. He refuses to be civil with me. He's a racist, and I happen to have a boyfriend of a different race living with me now.

His attitude is affecting our children, especially the one still living with me. I want to be able to share the joy of our new grandkids and the successes of our children, and the dilemmas as well, but I can't. Should I confront him? Or should I just consider him "dead"? -- SOMEONE'S MISSING IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR SOMEONE'S MISSING: I seriously doubt that "confronting" your ex-husband will work out well. You are a loving, enthusiastic parent and you do not need your ex's negative attitude putting a damper on your happiness.

Continue hosting these celebratory events, and extend invites to your ex if you wish. However, because of his racism, do not expect him to show up. That's a good thing, all things considered. Continue to dwell on the positive, and you and your children will all be happier.

DEAR ABBY: My brother "Patrick" and I have known "Bobby" for about 20 years. Patrick is closer friends with him because they live in the same town. Recently, we found out that Bobby's best friend was arrested for child pornography. While Bobby knew nothing about this before the arrest, he still wants to support his friend.

I told Patrick he will no longer be welcome in my home (I host for all the holidays) if he doesn't cut off all contact with Bobby. My brother says I'm being too harsh because you can disapprove of someone's behavior and still be a friend. I think that child pornography is morally and ethically wrong and there is no middle ground here. What do you think? Should Bobby have a seat at our table? (He has no other living family.) -- NOT WELCOMED IN THE EAST

DEAR NOT WELCOMED: I do not think you should excommunicate your brother because of something Bobby's friend did. I believe the Bible says that while you can hate the sin, you should still love the sinner, and that is what Bobby is doing. If you wish to check the reference, you may discover you have a copy somewhere in your home. You can review that chapter with your brother at your holiday table.

DEAR ABBY: My physician husband recently had a total hip replacement. (Orthopedics is not his specialty.) I'm a board-certified registered nurse with 40 years of experience who used to work inpatient orthopedics. He refuses to follow the surgeon's directions or mine, which are the same. He believes he knows more than all of us combined. However, when the home health nurse and physical therapist came, he accepted everything they told him. When I told him he doesn't respect my professional opinion, he didn't respond. Then I told him he'd insulted my integrity, and he blew up and accused me of being crazy.

History will soon repeat itself because he has to have his other hip done in a few months. I am to the point of letting the chips fall where they may and letting his outcomes (good or bad) be his sole responsibility. However, this is difficult to do as a wife and nurse. Plus, I will have to live with the fallout of any suboptimal outcomes. Your advice? -- HIP SERVICE IN FLORIDA

DEAR HIP SERVICE: Whether caused by a painful recovery or the drugs he has been prescribed, your husband's behavior is self-defeating. Because he ignores your and his surgeon's advice, you have no choice but to let the chips fall where they may. You can suggest and warn until you're hoarse, and your husband will continue to tune you out. The person who will have to live with the consequences is your noncompliant husband.

Allow me to offer a suggestion: Hire a nurse to tend to him after the second hip replacement and stay safely out of the line of fire. The peace of mind will be worth the money.

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


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