Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Howard," and I have been married five years. I'm not sure I want to be married to him anymore. I haven't told him I feel this way, but he senses "something" is wrong. I'm afraid to bring it up because he has low self-esteem and becomes defensive. He fits the profile of a co-dependent person -- and lately I feel like I'm his mother.

I love Howard dearly. He has helped me raise my son. But I can't afford to waste the rest of my life with someone who is so insecure that I can't even polish my fingernails without him saying, "Got a date?" This is no way to live, and I'm tired of it.

The twist to the story is that I attend school part time and have become friends with a man I'll call "Gary," with whom I am absolutely fascinated. Gary is attractive, smart, and knows what he wants out of life -- and has a plan to get there. (I keep asking myself, where was Gary when I was single?)

I live in a small town and can't talk to anyone about my situation. Any suggestions? -- FRUSTRATED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR FRUSTRATED: If I were you, I'd slow down and not destroy a marriage that has worked for five years. Nowhere in your letter have you indicated that Gary is interested in anything more than a casual relationship.

Your husband's self-esteem can be boosted through counseling and your emotional support. There is always going to be someone who is richer, smarter, more handsome and more aggressive. However, it doesn't guarantee the person will make you happy.

DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away three years ago. A year or so after her death, my 67-year-old father looked up "Enid," an old girlfriend he dated while he was in his early 20s. She was married, but was happy to meet with him. It didn't take long to rekindle their romance, and as soon as her divorce was final, they were married.

Dad asked her repeatedly how many times she had been married and how the marriages ended. Enid maintained that there were three marriages; one made her a widow, while the other two ended in divorce -- and it was the fault of the husband both times.

One of Enid's family members has tipped me off that she wasn't honest with Dad. There were a total of five marriages and four divorces.

What should I do with this information, Abby? Should I let Dad go to his grave without ever knowing the truth, in order to spare his feelings? Should I tell him? I was raised to value honesty and honor. Please point me to the path I should take. -- WANTS THE BEST FOR DAD IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WANTS THE BEST: Your dad should be told the truth immediately. There are legal implications when someone conceals that kind of information, and your father should discuss them with his lawyer. Enid could be ashamed of her multiple failed marriages or she could be a shady lady with plenty to hide. Either way, your dad should be given the opportunity to find out whom he's dealing with.

DEAR ABBY: My wife thinks I'm weird because I put ice cream on my shredded wheat in the mornings. I figure it's a dairy product, and besides, it tastes good! What's your opinion? -- EVERETT IN LAGUNA HILLS, CALIF.

DEAR EVERETT: If you're not concerned about saturated fat or calories, the practice is all right with me. However, an equally tasty and healthier alternative would be to sweeten your cereal with flavored nonfat yogurt. (It's delicious with oatmeal.)

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, 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