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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Help! My husband ("Carl") and I have been married for 18 months. I have a 4-year-old son from a previous marriage and an infant daughter from this marriage.

Before I met Carl, he had a one-night stand that resulted in a child (a little girl I'll call Sally). He and the mother of the child agreed a long time ago that Sally would be legally adopted by the mother's new husband (but Carl hasn't signed the papers yet). Carl made the decision to have nothing to do with his daughter. I totally support him in that decision.

Carl and I have a loving and strong relationship. The problem is my mother-in-law.

At our wedding reception, Carl's mother brought along pictures of Sally and showed them to members of my family. Somehow, the photographs got propped up against our wedding toast glasses next to our wedding cake. My husband confronted his mother. She turned it around and tried to make him feel guilty for ignoring the child. To this day she has never apologized for it.

My mother-in-law showed pictures of Sally to my son and told him she was his sister. She has asked me to visit the child and not tell my husband. She also has called me a "twit" (and worse), and told me that my husband was her son, and he loves her more than he loves me.

Carl and I have asked her not to see Sally, but she insists she doesn't need our permission to see her family.

I am upset and very hurt by her attitude and actions. As a family, what should we do? -- GERI IN TEXAS

DEAR GERI: Your feelings are valid. Your mother-in-law seems determined that all the children Carl has produced should be blended into one big happy family, regardless of his or your feelings.

It would be in everyone's best interests for Carl to sign the adoption papers as soon as possible. It will then be up to the child's mother and adoptive father to decide if they still want your mother-in-law involved in their and their daughter's lives.

If you distanced yourself from this woman, it would be understandable in the light of her behavior.

DEAR ABBY: In reply to the advice you gave to "Feeling Unloved in St. Cloud, Minn.," whose husband wouldn't touch her unless he had a drink first -- I'd like to share the other perspective:

While she likes to tie quitting drinking to her husband's reluctance to show his feelings, she is only partially correct.

One of the greatest fears people have is rejection. Rejection by the one you love is even worse. She should know that -- she feels it! Imagine what it is like for her husband, who awakened several times in the night to find his wife out of the bed -- and in another bedroom. Talk about rejection!

The reason he doesn't come to her bed for sex is he doesn't want MORE rejection. Only when he takes a drink does the fear subside.

If she wants sex, why doesn't she go to his bed? I've never yet seen a man refuse a woman's advances. She should be glad he hasn't moved out. Most men would nowadays.

Someday when she's a widow, she can look back at all the nights she didn't hear and feel him in bed next to her. I know. I'm a "Minnesota Twin" to this guy. -- MINNESOTA TWIN IN BEAVER CREEK

DEAR MINNESOTA TWIN: Thank you for stepping up to the plate to tell this unhappy wife where she's striking out. Several other readers have voiced the same opinion.

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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