Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Sister in Law's High Life Makes Husband Feel Low

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law "Charlotte's" lifestyle is extravagant. She has an annual income of $500,000, plus "perks." She is in her 40s, divorced for 10 years, and lives in a Park Avenue condo with her live-in boyfriend. Everything Charlotte does is "first class" -- restaurants, vacations, clothing, entertainment, etc.

I earn $50,000 a year. My wife and I have a nice home with a pool. She drives a top-of-the-line car, has plenty of nice clothes, and we enjoy sailing on our small boat. I have never denied her anything.

Several times last year, my wife visited Charlotte in New York. While visiting, my wife charged things we can't afford. I suspect she's trying to keep up with Charlotte's lifestyle, which is impossible. When I point out to her that we can't afford all the expensive things she purchases, she becomes cool and annoyed with me.

Trying to keep up with her sister's lifestyle is causing a rift in our once happy marriage. We are moving apart, and I don't know what to do. I love my wife, and it hurts. -- HURT HUSBAND IN FLORIDA

DEAR HURT: If your wife's visits to her sister make her feel deprived to the point where she routinely busts the budget, you are overdue for a frank talk about it. Tell her how hurt you feel -- and give her this message from me: If you don't appreciate what you've got, you'll lose it. Perhaps it will wake her up to reality.

DEAR ABBY: Please remind your readers it is extremely important that whenever a patient has a laboratory test, the physician or his or her office communicate the results directly to the patient -- regardless of whether the test is positive or negative. It is possible for the lab test to come back with a significant life-threatening or health-threatening finding for the patient and be accidentally misplaced or filed in a chart without the physician seeing it and the patient never learning anything until it's too late.

As recently as last week, I had a patient tell me that her family doctor told her, "No news is good news." This is absolutely the dumbest advice that can ever be given. Almost all physicians know of individuals who have died from cancer because the findings had not been communicated to the patient years earlier (at a preventative stage), or diabetic findings or dangerously high cholesterol, etc., had never been communicated to patients.

Please, Abby, urge all individuals who have lab tests to expect a call within a week or two. If they hear nothing, they MUST call the doctor's office to inquire about the results. This could save one's life. -- HAROLD J. GOLDFARB, M.D., ALLENTOWN, PA.

DEAR DR. GOLDFARB: This subject has been addressed in my column before, and I'm sorry it is still an ongoing problem.

Readers, "No news" ISN'T good news. No news is simply that -- no news. Always make a point of obtaining medical test results if you don't receive them from your physician. That precaution could save your life.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to respond to your "Confidential" to "Wants to Get Rich Quick in Nevada." I agree that "the quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket"; however, may I also suggest that Ireland is a good place to invest it? I have it on reliable authority that the capital there is always Dublin! -- RAY PLOETZ, MAPLE GROVE, MINN.

DEAR RAY: You may suggest it, but I suspect your "reliable authority" is full of Blarney.

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-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600