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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married 10 years. We have three beautiful children under the age of 8.

Two years ago, "Curt" lost his wedding ring. One year ago, he had an affair with a co-worker. Curt realized the affair was a mistake and decided to come back. I was willing, but asked that he get a new wedding ring to show his recommitment to our marriage.

It has now been 10 months since his return, but he still has not gotten a new ring. I even asked him to get one for himself as my Christmas present -- and still no ring.

Abby, I don't feel I can trust him. He says I am "blowing this out of proportion," and that he is committed. In counseling he brushes it off as, "I know ... I know ..."

I love Curt very much, but wonder if I should be with someone who not only hurt me but shrugs off my one request for closure and healing.

Am I making a big deal out of nothing, Abby? What do you think? -- HURT AND UNSURE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HURT AND UNSURE: I don't think you're making a big deal out of nothing. I'm pleased the two of you are in counseling together, because that's where you need to be. Although you have reconciled, for some reason your hubby hasn't fully recommitted himself to the marriage. During your next session, ask him what a wedding ring symbolizes to him, and why he's stalling. Then be very quiet and listen.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl in the eighth grade. I saw an interesting article in the newspaper this morning about bullying and how to stop it. All I could do was laugh. Those adults think they know how to stop it and what it's like, but quite frankly, they don't.

I know from experience how it feels to be harassed. I'm not exactly what you'd call skinny (I'm sort of muscular), and I wear baggy clothes. I am called "butch," "Sheeva" (a Mortal Combat character who is very muscular) and "Incredible Hulk." I am the target of a lot of hate, and it hurts badly.

I am writing because the newspaper article gave "tips" on how to stop the bullying. I don't know a single kid my age who would use any of them. They suggested saying, "You're trying awfully hard to upset me. When you do this you feel good. You feel powerful." Nobody I know would ever say something like that.

Sometimes ignoring the bully works, but it can also lead to fights. You could get right up into the bully's face. More fighting. No matter what you do, you can't stop it. It's usually the bully's home life that causes it. People say it's because of low self-esteem, but that's not usually the reason kids bully here in Delaware. They do it because they think it's FUNNY.

Abby, please print this so other kids who are being victimized by bullies will remember that they are beautiful -- maybe not to the bullies, but in their own way. -- BULLIED IN DELAWARE

DEAR BULLIED: Thank you for your honest letter. I am sorry you have been victimized by schoolyard bullies.

Bullying is not funny. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior by students, teachers and administrators. Bullying is destructive. Systematic harassment can lead to violence, as evidenced by the shooting sprees of students who were isolated and bullied to intolerable levels. More must be done to eradicate this abuse so that all students can pursue their education in a safe environment.

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

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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