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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am nearly 60 years old and have been married to "Peter" for more than 30 years. I am attractive and well-educated. I abandoned my career to raise our children, who are now grown. I also care for a young grandchild. Things have not always been great, but I figured you just work it out.

Peter recently confided to me that all his life he has secretly felt he should be a woman. He has become so troubled by this that he now sees a therapist who specializes in gender issues. He has also attended some support group meetings. I was devastated when he told me. I have also been seeing a therapist because I couldn't confide this to anyone. Peter is still looking for answers and does not know where this "feeling" will take him.

We are trying to be nice to each other, but that's about all there is left to our relationship. I have asked myself the proverbial question, "Would I be better off with or without him?" I cannot answer that. I am trying to function as normally as possible. But I feel like a zombie living from day to day, and I must decide soon how to deal with this.

Have you any ideas or information for me to consider? -- MISERABLE IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.

DEAR MISERABLE: Your feelings are understandable. While your husband is exploring his feminine side, you have been abandoned. Until he decides where this path will lead him, your wisest course of action would be to make no hasty decision.

Continue your own counseling. Access the Internet and find a support group for women married to men who are transgendered. Visit the library. Books are available on the subject. The only thing you should NOT do is isolate yourself in the belief you are the only woman with this problem, because nothing could be further from the truth.

DEAR ABBY: Am I old-fashioned to expect a phone call in response to RSVPs on invitations I have sent? Whether it's a dinner party or backyard barbecue, I always accept or decline promptly.

In these modern times, does RSVP now mean: Call if you feel like it? Abby, would it be rude of me to call those who haven't replied and ask if they are coming? -- TIRED OF GUESSING

DEAR TIRED: It's unfortunate that today many people interpret RSVP as meaning, "Call if you're going to come," rather than its correct meaning, which is, "Please respond to this invitation with an acceptance or a refusal."

By all means call those who haven't replied to your invitation. It's the only way you will know how many guests to provide for.

DEAR ABBY: Here's another one you can add to your "You know you're getting older when ..." file:

My 79-year-old mother has lived with my husband and me for 27 years. Yesterday a copy of AARP's Modern Maturity magazine arrived. I was preparing to put it in my mother's mail slot in the kitchen when I realized -- it was addressed to ME! Bummer! -- TINA IN HARRISONBURG, VA.

DEAR TINA: Console yourself that it doesn't mean we're over the hill. We're just headed in that general direction.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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