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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Some time ago I lost my first wife. About a year and a half later I remarried. My kids were adults and on their own. My new wife still had children in high school. I helped all of them to get their first car, and sometimes worked on their cars to keep them running. When they have problems or need money, I have been the one they came to for help.

My grown children try to work out their own problems and hardly ever come to me for help. When my wife's kids have problems with their marriages, they stay at our home. One has been with us for several months now. Another thinks we should baby-sit two or three times a week. When I say anything to my wife, she gets upset.

I'm retired now and would like to have my home back for my wife and me to enjoy our retirement. I worked for more than 40 years to enjoy retirement -- now I hate every day of it.

I've considered leaving, but with the laws as they are, she would get half of my retirement, and she never worked to put anything into it. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I had not remarried. I would have been happier living by myself. -- HATES EVERY DAY

DEAR HATES: It's possible that when your wife's children were in high school, you overindulged them. However, you are all adults now, and it is time for them to accept responsibility for themselves. You are overdue for a talk with them. If your wife feels unable to bring herself to talk to them with you -- do it alone.

After 40 years of hard work, you are entitled to some happiness in your retirement. If you are truly as unhappy as your signature indicates, talk to a lawyer about your options, and what your wife is entitled to if you and she should separate. It may not be as much as you fear.

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a reader signed "Ex-Seminarian" discussing the topic of Immaculate Conception. He stated that according to Christianity, Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's having been born without the stain of sin (original sin). Well, I take exception to that statement.

There is absolutely no biblical reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus, having been born without "original sin." The Immaculate Conception refers to just that -- Jesus was conceived while Mary was a virgin. The concept of Mary being born without sin is something the Catholic Church has perpetuated for many years. She was certainly chosen by God to bear his son, but by no means or biblical reference was she without sin. This is merely man-made doctrine with no biblical basis.

You are NOT confused, Abby. It is "Ex-Seminarian" who is confused. -- MARINO GARCIA, CINCINNATI

DEAR MARINO: Perhaps. You weren't the only one to point this out. I should have caught the misstatement "according to Christianity" and corrected it to read "according to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church." Other Christians may not accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, but the term is properly used to describe the circumstances of Mary's conception, not Jesus'.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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