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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Seeks United Front Before Going Separate Ways

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are separating after six years of marriage. I am 31 and he is 33. After months of discussion and many sessions with a marriage counselor, we came to realize that we had no common goals. (He initiated the idea of separation after expressing a desire to be on his own again.)

I have cried, bargained and offered to compromise, but his mind is made up; he wants his independence. I refuse to commit emotional blackmail or entrap him with a pregnancy to continue the marriage. Therefore, I have decided the best thing to do is let him go. It hurts, but this way we can part as friends and get on with our lives.

Our problem: how to explain this to our families, friends and co-workers who have always viewed us as the "perfect couple." We rarely fought. We trusted each other, supported each other's careers, shared the work and had fun together. No one would suspect that we've been talking about separating for the past four months. It will be a shock to our families and a total surprise to everyone else.

Abby, we want to be truthful and call it a mutual decision, but I know people will look for something more scandalous than incompatibility as soon as this spreads via the grapevine.

How do we maximize understanding and minimize rumor fallout? -- D.J., ILLINOIS

DEAR D.J.: First, announce it to your parents, then inform other family members and friends. To minimize rumors flying, present a united front. The message should be along these lines: "'Sam' and I have agreed to end our marriage. Although it may come as a surprise to all of you, this decision is mutual. Even though we care for each other, we have decided that we no longer want to be husband and wife. Please don't press us further because we both would rather not go into details at this time."

If anyone is so insensitive as to question you further, simply say, "We'd rather not discuss it right now."

Good luck to both of you ... wherever your separate paths may take you.

DEAR ABBY: My youngest brother-in-law is getting married this spring. We live on opposite sides of the country, but we are expected to come to this wedding. We simply can't afford to go as a family. My husband thinks he should go anyway, even though his wife and kids can't. I disagree with him; I say if we can't all go, then none of us should go.

I already know what the outcome is, but I would like to know what you think about this problem, and how would you resolve it?

I also know what the outcome would be were it someone in my family getting married. I'd tell them flat out that we cannot afford to go to the wedding, then we would send them a gift and our best wishes.

Am I being selfish, Abby? Or is my husband? -- FEELING ABANDONED

DEAR FEELING ABANDONED: I do not agree that since all of you can't afford to go to the wedding, nobody should go. Since your husband's youngest brother is being married and you can't afford to go with him, I think your husband should go without you.

By the same token, if someone in your family were being married on the opposite side of the country, and both you and your husband could not afford to make the trip, you should go without him.

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