DEAR ABBY: I am intrigued by women who find phone numbers in their husband's pockets or wonder why they are out late. My advice: Unless you think you're in danger of losing your husband, leave well enough alone.
I have been a happily married man for more than 25 years. For the last 10 years, I have had a male lover who is also married. Neither of us intends to leave our families. What would my wife gain if she happened to stumble on this? She would destroy her life, my life, our kids' lives, my lover's life, his family's lives -- and nothing would be gained. -- BISEXUAL IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR "BI": While we all know that some marriages are "arrangements," those kinds of relationships should be entered into with everyone's eyes wide open. Secrets of the kind you have described are not healthy for partnerships.
You ask what your wife would gain if she were to learn the truth? She would gain the ability to decide for herself if she wants to spend the rest of her life sharing her husband with another person, rather than having the decision made for her. Whether her answer is yes or no, she would be making an informed choice. She deserves the right to do so.
DEAR ABBY: I would like to thank my father-in-law for all of the lessons he's taught my husband:
Thank you for abandoning your girlfriend and newborn son 28 years ago. It has taught him to be a conscientious father to our children.
Thank you for leaving them in poverty. It taught him to work hard for the things he truly wants.
Thank you for never taking him fishing or hunting. It taught him to spend quality time with our daughters.
Thank you for returning to their lives when he was 17, only to cheat on his mother four years later. It has made our marriage stronger.
Thank you for visiting us three or four times in the past seven years. It taught him to appreciate his mother more.
Finally, thank you for never being a role model. It has taught my husband to be a better man. -- GRATEFUL WIFE IN MINNESOTA
DEAR GRATEFUL WIFE: Although the lessons your father-in-law taught your husband may have been inadvertent, it appears your mate took the negatives of his fragmented relationship with his father and turned them into positives. Your open letter demonstrates the lasting effect of examples we set by our behavior.
DEAR ABBY: My parents do not listen to anything I have to say. They think my problems are not as important as theirs. I try to tell them what's going on in my life, but they don't hear me. Because of this, I no longer tell my parents anything. I tell my best friend and her mother. My friend's mom listens to my problems and helps me handle them -- no matter how small they are.
My parents do not know anything about me. They never will, until they decide to listen to what I have to say.
My advice to all parents is to LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN. It's not that hard. Your kids just might have important "secrets" you know nothing about because you didn't take the time to listen. -- A TEEN NEEDING TO TALK IN OHIO
DEAR TEEN: Sociologists and psychologists have interviewed teen-agers about their concerns, and a subject that is mentioned again and again is the fact that some parents are too busy or preoccupied to listen. I have received many letters from other teen-agers that contain the same message as yours. They wants parents who will listen and at least let them explain. Kids desperately need to be understood and to have parents who will stand beside them, not over them.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
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