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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You have printed many letters from the "other woman" -- who is always hurt because her married lover won't leave his wife for her. Well, here's one from the married lover.

I am a male who is almost 50 and have been experiencing one hell of a midlife crisis. My wife has wanted a divorce for about a year now, and somehow I keep convincing her to hang in with me.

I got involved with my younger secretary. She knew just what she wanted -- me. She left her husband. I never asked her to or promised her anything; in fact, I tried to talk her out of it. I have broken off our affair, but she won't stop calling. She has played dirty, calling my wife and sending her ugly notes.

Abby, I have a devoted wife who still loves me. I'd have to be an idiot to leave her for a younger secretary whom I don't really know. My secretary wouldn't have liked the real me who my wife has put up with for 27 years. My wife did everything I wanted all these years. I insisted she stay home with the children, and then I became unhappy with her when all along it was me I was really unhappy with. I can only pray she forgives me someday.

Abby, we married men don't leave our wives because we're not crazy -- we just act that way sometimes! I know this is a long letter, but please print it anyway because it needs to be said. -- DAVE IN MONTANA

DEAR DAVE: I'm printing your letter in its entirety because every woman involved with a married man is convinced that her romance is the exception. Perhaps your letter will wake up a few dreamers.

The damage to your marriage may take some time to repair. Counseling may speed up the process and help restore the trust that's been violated. Good luck to you and your wife.

DEAR ABBY: My friend and I belong to the same organization. Recently her husband was arrested for fraud and absconding with funds from his employer. He was found guilty and is now serving time in prison.

Whenever I see this woman, I want to ask her how her husband is, and how she's doing. I am truly concerned about her welfare, but I don't know whether it would be appropriate to ask her since she has never spoken about it. I learned that her husband went to prison when I read it in the paper.

I don't want to offend her by asking. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. -- IN DOUBT

DEAR IN DOUBT: When you see your friend, ask her how her husband is doing -- it will open the door for further conversation concerning his incarceration should she want to talk about it. You will know by her response whether she appreciates your having asked about him.

If any of my readers have experienced this situation, I would like to hear from them. I will keep your identity confidential.

DEAR READERS: Your chuckle for today: "I learned everything I know at my mother's knee. It was heavily tattooed." -- WOODY ALLEN

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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