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DEAR ABBY: I've been in an extramarital relationship for 10 years. My husband knows, and so do my close friends.

I love this man dearly, but neither of us want it to be full-time. I have children at home and don't want to disrupt anything. We meet once or twice a week. He touches base with me several times a day, and is attentive where my husband never was.

My husband isn't bitter about the relationship anymore. However, my two closest friends continually say, "Well, why lie to yourself? You know you just say you don't want things full-time so you don't drive him away," which isn't true. We have a great thing -- we travel, we have long discussions, and I can open up to him without any repercussions, bouncing ideas and thoughts off of each other without judgment or criticism.

But I really don't want this to be full-time. I enjoy it like I enjoy a good book and a glass of wine -- not every day, but an indulgence and a pleasure. It also feels good to hear "I'm thinking of you" first thing every morning and the last thing every night. I am flattered.

It feels horrible that my two best friends can't understand that I give of myself to my community and my family and need something that is just for me. I have reached the point where I don't want to have these discussions with my friends anymore, so I avoid them. How can I get across to them that I'm fine and happy and content? -- JUST FOR ME

DEAR JUST: You say you are happy and content, and your husband is OK with the arrangement. Don't you think it's time you stopped trying to "sell" the concept of open marriage to your women friends? By now it should be clear that they do not understand. They probably never will. Most people don't. Let it lie!


DEAR ABBY: I am a first-time mom of a toddler. I suffer from (and am being treated for) anxiety issues.

Abby, I am having trouble finding the balance on gun safety and awareness in other people's homes -- especially if my daughter will be visiting. I grew up in a household where my father hunted and had guns in the house. However, he stored them safely in a locked cabinet and was the only one with access to the key. He also stored ammunition separately.

Where do I draw the line? Do I ask everyone whose house I'll be going to whether or not they have guns? What are the appropriate questions? Do I ask where they are stored and who has access? What else should I ask? Or should I mind my own business? I know the questions won't be appreciated by everyone because it will seem like I am questioning their judgment. -- FIRST-TIME MOM IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR FIRST-TIME MOM: If you start asking other parents whether they have guns in their homes and how they store them, your questions may be off-putting. Because you are concerned for your child's safety, why not offer to have the kids visit your house for playdates? I'm sure many of the parents will be glad to have some free time, and it shouldn't offend anyone.

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