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by Abigail Van Buren

Absence of Affection Makes Woman Doubt Man's Love

DEAR ABBY: I have a somewhat heart-wrenching dilemma. Last night, I told my fiance that I loved him so much I would be devastated if something happened to him. He didn't say anything. Then I asked him if he felt the same way. He said, "Well ... probably." Abby, he is not affectionate and there have been many times when I have doubted his love for me. He treats my son like his own, though. We've discussed this, and he always tells me I overreact. What should I do? -- FEELING HURT IN RENO

DEAR FEELING HURT: You are looking for reassurance; he's a poor communicator. Clip this column and be sure he sees it. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Thirty-six days later, I was on my way to the Philippines. En route, the Philippines fell to the Japanese, and we were routed to Australia. Eleven days after we landed, I met the most beautiful girl in the world.

On our first date, I told her I was going to marry her. I did, 18 months later, while on a 10-day R-and-R leave from New Guinea.

After more than 57 years of marriage and two children, my beloved "Mary" died five days before Christmas. Although we agreed that our ashes were to be scattered over the mountains, I found I could not part with hers.

While Mary was alive, she would frequently say, "You don't know how much I love you." I'd reply, "Likewise." I never said, "I love you." Now her ashes are on my dresser, where I tell her several times a day how much I love her, but it's too late. Although I wrote poetry to her, I could not bring myself to say the three words I knew she wanted most to hear.

As my dearest was dying and we thought she was comatose, I told her, "There aren't enough words to tell you how much I love you." A few hours later, she whispered, "Not enough words" and died.

The reason I'm writing is to urge men to express their feelings while their loved ones are alive. I don't know why, but many men are reluctant to express the depth of their feelings. -- MISSING MARY IN COLORADO

DEAR MISSING MARY: Perhaps it's because they were taught as boys that it's unmanly to express emotion -- which they have interpreted to mean that expressing heartfelt emotion is a sign of weakness. Fortunately, in these "liberated" times, that philosophy is changing because we now know that expressing one's feelings is healthy for both men and women.

DEAR ABBY: My siblings and I need your advice. We know our stepfather is cheating on our mother, but we don't know what to do. We love our stepdad and would never have thought this could happen -- but it's become a cold reality.

We cannot just sit and watch our mother be taken advantage of. It feels like we are betraying Mom by not telling her what we know.

She reads your column faithfully and has often clipped it for us to read. Abby, please help us. We're at a loss. -- NEEDING ADVICE ASAP IN KENTUCKY

DEAR NEEDING ADVICE: You have been placed in a terrible position. Tell your stepfather what you know, and give him a deadline to break off the affair -- or else YOU will tell your mother. And if he doesn't do it, follow through.

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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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