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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, a paid firefighter who teaches fire-fighting classes, invited one of his young female students, whom he says has the utmost respect for him, to room with him at a seminar they attended out of town.

He didn't tell me about his plans, but I suspected it when he told me not to expect a phone call from him that night as it would be a late class, etc. I called the hotel and there was no reservation in her name.

When I came right out and asked him if she stayed with him, he admitted it. He swore she simply slept in the other bed after having too many drinks with the gang and "couldn't drive home."

Abby, she is 22 years his junior. Is it possible that this could be innocent? Is this considered acceptable? -- TORN IN KANSAS

DEAR TORN: It's possible the situation was innocent -- but not probable. Where there's smoke, there's fire.

Your husband's behavior was extremely inappropriate -- neither acceptable nor wise. Teachers with seniority are assumed to have more "power" in relationships than young, impressionable students. Students may be afraid to say no -- particularly if they have "utmost respect" for the person making the proposition.

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law passed away a few months ago. He and my mother-in-law would have celebrated their 50th anniversary next month. My husband and I are not sure what to do. Do we send a card? Do we send a gift -- or should we just ignore it?

Thank you for any suggestions. -- L.D. IN LAKE WACCAMAW, N.C.

DEAR L.D.: Do not ignore your mother-in-law on the day that would have been her 50th anniversary. Send a thinking-of-you card and tell her you know this will be a sad day for her, but you want her to know you remember and are thinking of her with love.

Widows have often expressed the pain of being ignored on an anniversary following the death of a spouse. When no one mentions the special day, it's as though the marriage never happened. Although the spouse is not there to celebrate, it's still the widow/widower's anniversary of a very important day.

If you live near your mother-in-law, call her early in the day and invite her to dinner to talk about the happy times in her marriage. She'll appreciate it. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 13-year-old girl, and I'm afraid I've dug my own grave. My older sister, "Celeste," had a baby three months ago. Yesterday, she and her boyfriend got into a fight, and I saw him hit her. Celeste assured me she was going to tell our father, but I know she won't.

This morning, our stepmom manipulated me into telling her what happened. I'm afraid of what Celeste will do when she finds out I told she was hit. I'm afraid she and her boyfriend will forbid me from seeing my new niece.

What should I do, Abby? -- TEEN-AGE AUNT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TEEN-AGE AUNT: You did nothing wrong. Tell your sister you love her and can't tolerate the thought that she would be hit again. When physical abuse is not reported, it only gets worse. By reporting the abuse, you are protecting your sister and niece. I commend you for doing the right thing.

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

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $7.90 ($9 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Cookbooklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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