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DEAR ABBY: My mother and I have been discussing the proper way to address an envelope to a divorced lady. I have been divorced for several years and am on very good terms with my ex-husband and his wife.

Last year, my aunt sent me a Christmas card to "Mrs. Albert Jones." It was ironic that it arrived on a day when my ex and his wife were at my house. I looked at my ex's wife and said, "This must be for you!" Knowing my aunt, we all laughed about it.

I spoke with my mother and asked her to tell her sister not to address me in that manner. I am divorced from Albert and am no longer his wife. (As a matter of fact, Mrs. Albert Jones does exist -- and it's not me!!)

This year, my aunt has at least improved a bit. She sent my Christmas card to "Mrs. Tina Smith." I again spoke with my mother and told her that since I have been divorced for several years, I do not consider myself a "Mrs." My mother replied that it is still proper to address a divorced woman as "Mrs." I do not believe this is correct. I explained to my mother that in the case of a death, the wife could continue to use her husband's name -- but not in the case of a divorce. Which one of us is right, Abby? -- TINA IN ORLANDO, FLA.

DEAR TINA: Your mother is correct. A divorced woman may take back her maiden name (Miss Jane Smith), or she may properly be addressed as Mrs. first name plus her husband's last name (Mrs. Jane Jones).

DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old divorced father with a 6-year-old son. My relationship with my ex-wife has been OK over the past three years -- not much fighting -- as our divorce was mutual. I don't hang out with her, but she comes to my parents' house on our son's birthday and at Christmas to watch him open gifts. In the summer, she watches him play basketball while I coach. My family gets along well with her.

The problem is my new girlfriend. She moved from out of state 10 months ago to be with me. I love my girlfriend very much and she loves me, but she feels that my ex-wife's presence is weird, and it really upsets her.

Should I tell my parents that I don't think my ex-wife should come to family parties, or does my girlfriend need to accept that this is the way my life is -- and she's just going to have to deal with it? -- CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR CAUGHT: I see no reason to "fix" something that isn't broken. If your girlfriend wants a future with you, she'd be wise to back off a little.

You and your ex-wife are not making your son choose one of you over the other, and your girlfriend should be grateful that your ex isn't jealous of her and that everyone gets along. All divorces should be as amicable as yours.

CONFIDENTIAL TO 'POOR IN MONTANA': "Nowadays, we think of a philanthropist as someone who donates big sums of money, yet the word is derived from two Greek words, 'philos' (loving) and 'anthropos' (man): loving man. All of us are capable of being philanthropists. We can give of ourselves." -- Edward Lindsey

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