DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I were dating, he told me that he'd had a consensual sexual relationship with his cousin, "Irma." He said they were in their early 20s and very immature. They parted ways because they both knew it was wrong, and Irma moved to another state. He told me so one day I wouldn't be blindsided should we ever be married.
Well, we got married, and this cousin has kept her distance until recently. Irma has now started to attend their family events. We live too far away to go, but I dread the day when we do and she's there. Should I act like I don't know what went on before I was in the picture? Nobody in his family knows this ever happened between them.
I have told my husband it makes me very uncomfortable and that it almost seems she attends hoping to run into him. Why else would she? I would be very ashamed of having done this and would continue to keep my distance.
My husband says I have nothing to worry about because Irma means nothing to him. What do I do if I run into this woman at one of these family gatherings? -- NOT HAPPY IN THE USA
DEAR NOT HAPPY: I know it may be uncomfortable, but when your paths finally cross, be polite. You don't have to do anything but exchange the basic social amenities, and spend your time socializing with the other relatives.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a middle-aged, single woman. My 76-year-old father lives with me. We get along well and the arrangement works fine, except for one problem. He never washes his hands after going to the bathroom. To make matters worse, he does most of the cooking, and he often goes right from the bathroom straight into the kitchen.
I know that if I comment on his lack of hygiene, he will get angry and defensive. How do I get him to be sanitary at his age? -- HUNGRY NO MORE
DEAR HUNGRY NO MORE: I don't blame you for having lost your appetite. After reading your letter, mine is gone, too.
You say your father lives with you and not the reverse. In your home, you get to make the rules. If this makes your father "defensive and angry," so be it.
There's a reason employees of restaurants are required to wash their hands after using the bathroom. It's to prevent the spread of disease. It may mean watching your father like a hawk, but you will have to enforce this. And if at all possible, do the cooking yourself.
DEAR ABBY: I like this girl "Jayne" who I work with that I wouldn't mind dating. Problem is, her mother also works there and has sent out signals that she "likes" me, too. So how do I get Jayne without breaking her mother's heart or creating waves at work for me? -- TROUBLE IN ALBANY, N.Y.
DEAR TROUBLE: Workplace romances are strongly discouraged because if they end -- and most do -- it could be a recipe for disaster. Your situation sounds like double-trouble. If I were you, I'd find a job where there is less electricity in the air.