Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 49, divorced, and partially living with a 67-year-old man. He has been divorced nearly 10 years.

He and his wife divorced because he had fathered a child by another woman. He never married this woman, but he does take care of the financial obligations for mother and child.

He and I fight a lot because of his involvement with his ex-wife and ex-mistress. We have never spent a major holiday together because his adult children have all the family dinners, and I am not "family." I share my home, cabin, family, friends and vacations with him. Yet he thinks he "owes" the holidays and birthdays to his family. Last year we planned to have his birthday party at his house. We invited his children, but not the ex-wife, ex-mistress or child. Well, no one showed up. They all blamed me for the exclusion.

I'm fairly intelligent and own my own business. Deep down, I want to get rid of him, but like the old rhyme says, "When it's good, it's very, very good -- and when it's bad, it's horrid."

By the way, he recently went on a cruise with his ex-wife, and when they go to family gatherings, they share a room. I am supposed to understand that it's "family." Well, I am sick of this sick family.

He says he would take me to family events, but the children don't want me. He says he doesn't want to hurt them any more than he already has, because the affair that produced the child lasted for 12 years of his marriage. He argues that as long as we spend weekdays together he should be able to spend the dozen-or-so birthdays and holidays with them. I think I should be included in family events or at least considered. Am I wrong? -- HAD ENOUGH IN MINNESOTA

DEAR HAD ENOUGH: I have to wonder why you want to be included at birthday or holiday celebrations with people who have made it clear they want to exclude you. Your friend is trying to keep you happy by spending weekdays with you, but -- face it -- he has too many other females in his life to concentrate on you alone. You will always be the caboose at the end of the train. Frankly, I think you deserve better.

DEAR ABBY: Would you please publish again your letter on tickling? I have just returned from visiting my daughter and her husband, and he tickles his two little girls too often. He says they must like it, because they laugh. It is very distressing to me. -- WORRIED GRANDMOTHER IN KNOXVILLE, TENN.

DEAR WORRIED GRANDMOTHER: You are right to be concerned about your son-in-law's behavior. Pediatric specialists say that excessive tickling stimulates children inappropriately and should be discouraged. Remind him that in ancient times, tickling was used as a method of torture. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: How right you are to point out that constantly tickling someone is cruel and should not be tolerated. My Irish grandmother told me at least 50 years ago of a situation that took place near her hometown in Ireland.

A neighbor had at least two wives pass away before anyone paid much attention to it. Then another neighbor reported hearing hysterical laughter coming from that house. Well, it was later determined that the man had been tying his wives to the bedpost, and tickling the soles of their bare feet with a feather! He continued until the hysteria did them in. In truth, they were tickled to death. -- PAT HOLLINGSWORTH, BRITISH COLUMBIA

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600