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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have reached the point of desperation, and hope that you can help me find some answers and some sanity.

I am 56 years old, and after more than 30 years of a troubled marriage, I left my wife for a girl 18 years younger whom I had known less than a year. We were married five months later, but I knew immediately that my dream marriage was a mistake -- and within days I returned to my wife. Although our children are grown, I knew they needed their parents to be a stable family unit, and I couldn't get over having abandoned them.

My first wife took me back, but none of our problems had changed and I was as miserable as ever, unable to forget the young wife I had deserted. After a couple of months I returned to her.

Now I feel guilty about what I've done to my kids, no one from my old life is speaking to me, and all of it is affecting my relationship with my new wife.

I am afraid of another breakup and can't imagine where I would go or what I would do. Please don't suggest I see a counselor. I am one. -- ADRIFT AND AFRAID IN OHIO

DEAR ADRIFT: Please read this carefully: Because you are a counselor doesn't mean you do not need to see one. You will not be the first therapist who has needed to see a therapist. Many therapists are required to undergo analysis as part of their training, and many of them continue to do it as a "reality check" after dealing with so many disturbed people.

You are not a pingpong ball, and you cannot keep bouncing back and forth between spouses. Not only is it crazy-making for you, it's very unfair to them. Please waste no time in making an appointment with a therapist you can trust, respect, and who has an excellent track record. You'll be glad you did. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I are getting married in November. His sister "Sue" and I have never gotten along. However, last year, despite our differences, I asked her to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.

I knew she was thinking about trying to get pregnant (as she is almost 30), so I asked her if there would be a conflict with her being in the wedding party. She said there would be no problem and assured me that if she did start trying to get pregnant, her due date would not coincide with the wedding.

A few months later, Sue and I spoke again about the pregnancy, and she once again assured me that there would be no conflict. In fact, although she was trying to get pregnant, she promised she would stop trying for a few months to be positive she wasn't due in November.

Well, surprise, surprise! She is now pregnant and is due 10 days after the wedding. Needless to say, my fiance and I are very hurt and upset that she let this happen. We feel like she betrayed us and lied without caring about our feelings. We think she acted very selfishly. My fiance's parents think we are wrong to be upset. What do you think? -- THE HURT BRIDE IN TEXAS

DEAR HURT BRIDE: Your quarrel seems to be more with Mother Nature than with your future sister-in-law. However, according to "Emily Post's Complete Book of Wedding Etiquette," "It is better not to choose as a bridesmaid a girl who is noticeably pregnant unless she and the bride are completely comfortable about it." If Sue still wants to be in the wedding, take her to a dressmaker and have a maternity dress made to match the other bridesmaids' attire.

You might also have a junior bridesmaid in your wedding party lineup who is willing to be a pinch-hitter on short notice if Sue can't go the distance.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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