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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Who Did Everything Right Now Feels Terribly Wronged

DEAR ABBY: Eight years ago, the most beautiful woman in the world came into my life. I'll call her "Mary." We dated for seven months before she started asking for a proposal. I happily agreed, and in 1993 we were married.

Two years later, she convinced me that we should buy a house. A year after that, she said she wanted to have cats in our home. I don't care too much for cats, but I gave in to two cats.

Then she started yearning for children. When we married, we both realized that she could not get pregnant. So she began inquiring into adoption. I wasn't too fond of the idea of bringing a child into our home when we knew little about its medical or psychiatric history. Again, to make her happy, I agreed. Now don't get me wrong -- not a day goes by that I don't look at my son and thank God for him.

Then Mary wanted to help us get ahead financially. We both agreed that she would be the one to return to college, since we could not afford to lose my income and my study habits are not great. So we struggled for two years to put her through school.

After a while, Mary started going out with her friends from school for a few hours. Then the outings turned into all-nighters. Keep in mind, my son and I were at home while she was out partying with money we couldn't afford. Eventually she confessed to me that she'd had a fling with a guy she met. I forgave her by telling her that six years was too much time to throw away over one mistake.

Two months ago, she told me she doesn't want to be married anymore. She moved in with her mother. We alternate weeks with our son, but he has trouble staying with her. Part of the reason may be that she yells at him for every little thing he does wrong. He's only 5 years old.

Two days ago, she informed me that she's moving to Florida for an opportunity to attend school and have a good job. Mary does not want our son to come with her. In fact, she says she doesn't want him at all. Sometimes she says she wishes she could take him back to the agency.

Abby, I gave my wife everything she wanted -- a house, an education, a son and plenty more. Now she's leaving me high and dry to cope with the responsibilities of paying the bills and being a parent. So much for deadbeat fathers.

Care to offer any advice? -- DESERTED IN NEW ORLEANS

DEAR DESERTED: Only this, and it's offered with my sympathy for the treatment you have received from this immature and self-centered woman. The house will appreciate in value, and the emotional and psychic gratification you will receive from raising your son are priceless. If you can let Mary go without bitterness, you will be the winner in the long run. And please, consider counseling for both you and your son to help you through the heartbreak in the aftermath of this desertion.