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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband's Closed Wallet Opens His Wife's Eyes

DEAR ABBY: Five years ago, I married a 40-year-old bachelor. It was his first marriage. Abby, he has given me only $10 (yes, $10!) in all the time we have been married, and he spends nothing on my children by my first marriage. I still pay all my own expenses, as I did when I was single -- my car payments, insurance, clothing, gas, and everything we purchase for the house, such as furniture, drapes, carpeting, linens. He also expects me to pay for his clothes and all of the groceries. I do this on a minimum-wage salary! He makes good money, owns his car free and clear, and the house is also paid for. All he pays for is utilities.

He is rude and grouchy to my kids and has never bought them birthday or Christmas presents.

His mother lived with him before we were married, and he has bought her a brand-new car, paid her insurance, car payments and gas, and he lets her pick out her own presents for Mother's Day, birthdays, etc.

He will never change, and I'm not even sure I love him. Am I a fool to stay with this man? -- NO CITY, NO STATE

DEAR NO CITY: Since you raised the question, the answer is, yes, you ARE a fool to stay with this man.

DEAR ABBY: May I please add my 2 cents to "Repented in Oregon," the young woman who had been promiscuous during high school and college? I was in the same situation, but unlike "Repented," I didn't wise up at 19. I was 24 when I began to turn my life around. By that time, I had slept with more than 50 men, had contracted herpes and flunked out of college -- since I spent more time in bars drinking and picking up men than studying. Somewhere along the way, I had also managed to destroy my credit rating. My self-esteem and reputation were both in the Dumpster.

While in college, I had signed a contract with the Army Reserves and ROTC. At the time, I didn't expect to fulfill the contract since ROTC would make me an officer and the contract was just a formality. Without realizing it, I had made the best decision of my life. When I was suspended from college due to poor grades, I moved to another state. Eventually, with the help of the military, I graduated from nursing school.

I now have a wonderful career in the nursing profession, as well as a wonderful husband and two beautiful children. Yes, my husband knows about my past and my herpes. We are careful so he has never contracted it. He loves me for who I am now, not who I was at one time. My friends and co-workers know I was a "wild child" but, like my husband, they see who I am now.

Unfortunately, when I visit my parents, who still live in my hometown, there are those who still see the "wild child." They continue to ignore the 11 years of accomplishments and growth that make me who I am today. I choose to see this as their loss, not mine.

To "Repented": The choices I have made throughout my recovery may not work for you, but know that your true friends will see you for who you are becoming, not who you were. Good luck. -- BEEN THERE AND RECOVERED IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR BEEN THERE: Thank you for the great letter. I'm sure that more readers than "Repented" will see it and be inspired by it.

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