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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 45-year-old divorced mother of three.

"Jeff," the man I am seeing, is kind, patient, understanding

and generous. He is a gentleman. There isn't anything I want

or wish for that he does not get for me. Jeff sends me

flowers several times a month. He loves my children dearly. I

could not ask for a more perfect man.

The problem is: HE'S STILL MARRIED. Jeff and his wife

have been separated for 10 years. He refuses to see a lawyer,

even for consultation, because he says he can't afford a

divorce. He's convinced his wife will take "everything." How

can he be certain if he doesn't talk to someone?

I love Jeff with all my heart, but quite frankly, I am

tired of waiting. I want to be his wife. I know Jeff loves me

with all his heart, mind, body and soul -- but maybe not

enough to get married.

Abby, how much longer do I wait? -- EVERYTHING EXCEPT

THE RING

DEAR EVERYTHING: The gentleman you are seeing may love

you with his heart, mind, body and soul -- but he loves his

current economic status more.

Ask yourself: Can I live like this indefinitely, or

should I push for a commitment with the risk of "losing" him?

Only YOU can answer that.

DEAR ABBY: I work in an office where people often bring

food: doughnuts, casseroles, birthday cake, etc., for special

events. On these occasions, "Cora" will fill an extra plate

with food and say, "I'm taking this home for 'Susie'" (her 5-

year-old daughter).

I wouldn't mind if Cora couldn't afford to feed Susie.

But that isn't the case. Cora owns her own home, has a nice

car, and frequents restaurants several times a week.

I think Cora is rude. I often want to say to her, "I

didn't know Susie worked here," hoping it will stop her from

pilfering our food for her child. Can you think of anything

we can say to her to get the point across that what she is

doing is wrong? -- NO FREE LUNCH IN OHIO

DEAR NO FREE LUNCH: Oh, come on! How much can a 5-year-

old consume? I'm sure it makes the child happy to feel

remembered. In the interest of office morale, refrain from

criticizing and being so possessive about the leftovers.

DEAR ABBY: I write this as a warning to older people

about lending their credit cards to a new friend or neighbor.

Normally, it's done because the older person can't pick up

his or her own prescription or run an errand, so he or she

gives a credit card to the new acquaintance.

My friend's mother gave her credit card to a woman who,

in one afternoon, ran up more than $10,000 in charges and

then took off. The police can do nothing about it because the

"kind person" had written permission to use the card. The

poor trusting victim had to declare bankruptcy because she

could not pay off the debt on her small pension.

Abby, please warn your readers never to blindly trust a

person they do not know well. -- WANTS TO HELP IN HEMET,

CALIF.

DEAR WANTS TO HELP: What a horror story! The lesson here

is that people who blindly trust get robbed blind. A safer

way to handle such a situation would be for the credit card

owner to call the pharmacy (or store) and give the card

number when the item is being picked up.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter

Jeanne Phillips.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in a two-booklet set.

To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope,

plus check or money order for $7.90 per set ($9 per set in

Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount

Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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