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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 21 years. We have two children, ages 12 and 9. I was a poor husband for the last 10 years -- unsupportive, overly critical, controlling and negative. All this led to my wife's having a two-year affair with her boss.

After I learned what was going on and filed for divorce, my wife asked for a reconciliation. My problem is that neither she nor her boss is willing to leave their job for a new position elsewhere.

I am unable to see how we can rebuild our marriage as long as they continue to work together on a daily basis. She is his executive secretary. Am I wrong to demand that this work relationship end? -- FRED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR FRED: I commend you for recognizing your faults and your wife for seeking a reconciliation.

Good jobs are hard to find, but if your wife is serious about wanting to save the marriage, she should look elsewhere for work. If not, your willingness to forgive and forget may be overshadowed by feelings of mistrust.

DEAR ABBY: I had to write after reading the letter from "Living It Up 'Til the End," who wrote about people refusing to go to nursing homes when they grow old. If she considers herself to be insensitive and cold, then I am too.

My husband and I are both 44 years old. Our children are 15 and 11. I could write a book about the difficult situations we have been through this year with my mother-in-law, my mother, my father and my grandmother. I am exhausted from the constant worry, frustration, anger and guilt. I wish that each of these dear people would have thought ahead and planned for their declining health and abilities. Instead, all decisions have been left to my husband, my sisters and me. No one is entirely happy with whatever decision is made.

In addition to my constant concern for our aging (and failing) family members, I worry about what all this pressure is doing to our children and our marriage. It is almost impossible to juggle everything, and since the problems facing the elders are of a more critical nature, our children and our marriage often have to take a back seat.

I'm making sure my children won't have to go through this hell. My husband and I take excellent care of ourselves, believing prevention is one key to aging well. I plan to keep my will updated, make all my own funeral arrangements down to the last detail, select the assisted living center and/or nursing home I want to go to, and write all this down for my children. I never want to put them in the position we've found ourselves forced into, just when we thought we could start enjoying our mid-life years. -- ANY FAMILY, ANYWHERE

DEAR ANY FAMILY: You are a classic example of the sandwich generation -- and it's no picnic. I'm sure the older members of your family never intended to burden you as they have, but without careful planning such hardships pass from one generation to the next. Your approach is simple and wise. Your children will bless you for it.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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