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by Abigail Van Buren

Absence Makes Wife's Heart Grow Suspicious of Husband

DEAR ABBY: I am a sailor in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Sasebo, Japan. After serving 11 years of active duty and visiting several different countries as a single sailor, I finally tied the knot with a beautiful Filipino woman I met in Manila. She had been a high school teacher. I love her dearly. She was (and still is) everything I could possibly want in a wife.

Being in the Navy requires me to go out to sea quite often, which puts a hardship on our marriage because of the long separations. We're handling the situation pretty well, and we make up for lost time when I get home.

My problem is my wife. Being from the Philippines, she knows the reputations of sailors in foreign ports. American sailors bring American dollars ashore, and most of them are looking for entertaining ways to spend them. (Most foreign ports have "ladies for hire.") However, I do not, and would never in a million years, cheat on my wife, especially with a lady who just wanted my money.

When I must go to foreign ports, my wife drives me crazy with her suspicions. I have tried my best to convince her that I'm not like the American sailors who have a "sweetheart" in every port.

Abby, can you please advise me on how to put my wife's suspicions to rest? -- SASEBO SAILOR

DEAR SAILOR: If your wife doesn't trust you out of her sight even though you have done nothing to justify her suspicions, your marriage is too fragile to endure.

Arrange for her to see the base chaplain for counseling. She needs to fill her time with activities that she will find rewarding. Since she is a qualified high school teacher, if she's not currently working, perhaps she could do some substitute teaching during your absence.

Keep her busy, or she'll drive you dizzy!