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by Abigail Van Buren

Did He Cheat or Didn't He? That Is Couple's Question

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a different opinion about the rules of marital separation.

Early in our marriage, following the birth of a child, my husband became unhappy with our union. Without warning, he announced that he was moving out for a trial separation. During that time he slept with another woman.

He claims that his infidelity was justified because he had moved out. Had I known that the separation was his idea of permission to resume a single lifestyle, I would likely have made very different decisions on my own behalf. If his rules apply, whenever I feel I'm "unhappy" and need to get away, it's OK to take a nice vacation and sleep with whomever I find attractive. However, I doubt he would approve of the shoe being on the other foot, although he thought it was permissible for him to behave that way.

I believe a trial separation serves as a vehicle for couples to work out their differences and in no way nullifies the marriage vows. In my opinion, only when there is intent to dissolve the marriage AND a suit for divorce has been legally filed are the vows waived.

I say he cheated on me and had an affair. He says not. Abby, what do you say? -- FORGIVING BUT UNABLE TO FORGET IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FORGIVING: I, too, say he cheated on you when he had an affair. However, you were sufficiently committed to each other for the marriage to have withstood his infidelity.

Since this is still a bone of contention, you would be wise to seek professional counseling to discharge your lingering anger. It will undoubtedly strengthen your union.

DEAR ABBY: My wife has allowed our 16-month-old daughter, "Alicia," to sleep in our bed (off and on) for some time. My wife gets tired of waking up in the middle of the night to rock Alicia back to sleep, so she picks her up and brings her back to our bed.

I try to help out by going into Alicia's room and rocking her and eventually laying her back down in her crib. This usually works, but when my wife brings her into our room, she destroys the progress I was making in keeping the baby in her own bed.

I love our daughter very much, but I end up with little feet hitting my chin and I don't sleep well. My wife doesn't seem to mind, but I want our bed back. Alicia has a beautiful crib and I think in time she will learn to love it, but my wife says she can't stand to hear her cry.

Abby, what do pediatricians say? -- CROWDED BED

DEAR CROWDED BED: Pediatricians differ on this issue. While many believe otherwise, most American families keep their babies in separate beds. In some other cultures, it is normal for a baby to share the parents' bed until mid-childhood.

An infant will adjust to the style the parents choose. You and your wife must determine where you want Alicia to sleep, then be consistent in establishing a pattern. It may take several nights of crying, but Alicia can learn to sleep comfortably in her own bed, if that is what you choose to teach her.

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