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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been involved with a kind and generous man for four years. We have a child together who is now 16 months old. We are not married because he is still married to his first wife.

"Joe" and his wife have filed for divorce and all that remains to finalize it are their signatures. However, when I asked him about it, he gave me excuses such as it would ruin him financially, or they must remain together for the sake of their two children. He said that his youngest daughter is afraid that if he and her mother got divorced, she will never see him again. Both Joe and his wife want the divorce, but the decree just sits there unsigned. I don't understand his procrastination because I am sure he wants to be married to me and be a full-time father to our child.

Joe is a very good father to our baby and a wonderful lover, but I want him to be more than that -- I want him to be my husband.

Abby, do you think if I'm patient Joe will eventually finalize his divorce and marry me? -- WAITING PATIENTLY

DEAR WAITING: I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but if Joe really wanted to marry you, he would not be offering weak excuses and leaving the divorce papers unsigned. It appears that he wants to have his cake and eat it, too.

It may not be easy for you to face reality, but the sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to liberate yourself from this hopeless situation and find someone who is free to marry you.

DEAR ABBY: I am a very conservative parent when it comes to men. I never dated any young man except the one who became my husband.

I have a 19-year-old daughter who lives on campus at her college. I always encouraged her to be a good girl like me.

She recently came home for a college break, and in her room, I found a year-old receipt from a motel. On it was her name and that of a boy she was dating at the time. She now has another boyfriend.

Abby, should I confront her with the receipt or pretend I don't know anything? -- CONSERVATIVE MOM

DEAR CONSERVATIVE MOM: I would advise against confronting your daughter with the motel receipt. She's an adult and has the right to make her own decisions. I hope that in addition to telling your daughter that she should be a "good girl" like you, while she was still a minor and living with you, you discussed sex with its implications and dangers. Teens often fail to accept a parent's admonition unless it is backed up with good reasons. The lessons you taught her while she was growing up will help her to make wise choices now that she is an adult.

DEAR ABBY: Your answer to "Upset Mother Down South," the woman who was concerned because her daughter's husband failed to acknowledge birthdays, Valentine's Day and other "special occasions" with a card, was right on the money.

My husband rarely thinks to send flowers or cards on those special occasions. However, he does remember Dec. 23 as the day of our first date. He can even remember the table at which we sat and the movie we saw before dinner. He can recite dates, times and the clothes I wore on occasions special to just the two of us. He also remembers the details associated with each child's birth.

Even though I am not "remembered" on the special dates printed on calendars, I feel very loved. After all, those dates were chosen by our government, our religious institutions and the greeting card companies. They do not automatically carry personal significance. Perhaps women who are upset by what their husbands forget should listen to what they remember. -- RITA SEIFERT, CINCINNATI

DEAR RITA: You have your priorities well organized, and you said it very well. When a couple loves and cherishes each other, every day is Thanksgiving and every night is New Year's Eve.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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