DEAR ABBY: I am a 44-year-old married woman with three children. My husband is a good man in many ways, but has discovered the "joys" of Internet chatrooms. I have caught him talking online in the wee hours of the morning and confronted him about it. It's demeaning to me and my children when he speaks to these "ladies" in a provocative way on the Net. He says it's all in fun.
To make a long story short, I figured out his password and found out that he has been having a pretty steamy "affair" with a young lady out West. I feel betrayed and disgusted. I feel that I've been cheated on. He will say that as long as it isn't physical, it isn't cheating.
I don't know what to do. I love my husband; we've been together for 27 years. Should I confront him with my discovery, or wait it out and hope he gets over his fascination with the forbidden? -- DISGUSTED IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR DISGUSTED: Lying to you and carrying on a "steamy" online flirtation is a form of cheating. I don't blame you for feeling betrayed. If the situation were reversed, and your husband discovered you were doing this behind his back, I'm sure he wouldn't be thrilled either. By all means, confront him with what you know. You have every right to demand an end to this dishonesty. Ignoring it won't help. It's time to clear the air.
DEAR ABBY: I have an ongoing problem with my parents and my in-laws. They are in their early 70s, quite healthy and financially sound.
My husband and I have three children, the only grandchildren, in grades 8, 9 and 10. With three children actively involved in sports, we are on the run four to six days per week with school/club activities, music lessons, homework, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and I work outside the home.
We do a tenuous balancing act and time is our most precious commodity. Herein lies the problem:
All four parents have become increasingly hostile toward the reality of our lives, which they insist upon interpreting as, "You have time for everything and everyone but us." We call them at least twice a week, entertain them for all family events and see them often, but they're still dissatisfied. They want us to be available (as a family of five) at least once a week for them to "drop by," for us to "drop by" their homes, plus a sit-down meal with them on Sundays at our home.
Our repeated requests for them to spend time with us by attending one of the children's sporting events have been ignored. I speak for my husband and children when I state that we are at our wit's end with the arguments, hostility, tears and guilt trips. We're tired of apologizing for how we live our lives.
I know they are fans of your column. Any advice, Abby? -- EXASPERATED IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR EXASPERATED: The situation you describe is typical of many families caught up in the demands of the modern world. Your parents' reaction is generational, too, because your goals are different. They have too much time on their hands; you don't have enough. It is flattering that they want to spend more time with your family; however, for your own peace of mind, don't take their complaints too seriously.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600