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by Abigail Van Buren

Pictures of Man's Ex Wife Haunt His Grieving Widow

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Tom," had a heart attack and died six months ago. I was his second wife. He was married to his first wife, "Becky," for seven years before their divorce. They split up because Becky found someone who made more money. Five years later, Tom married me. We had seven happy years together. There were no children in either marriage.

It took a month before I felt strong enough to go through Tom's personal belongings. He owned one wallet. Sadly, there were no pictures of me in his wallet, even though we had studio portraits taken together on two occasions and I had given him wallet-sized prints.

What I did find hidden in his wallet were two small snapshots of Tom and Becky, taken when they were newlyweds. I was stunned. In all the years we were married, if Becky's name was mentioned, Tom made nothing but negative remarks about her.

I feel certain they were not having an affair, but I can't help but wonder if Tom still loved her. Whenever I ask anyone, the person tells me what I want to hear -– that the fact he could never say a kind word about Becky proves that he loved me. Abby, what are your thoughts on this? Please be straight with me. -– HURTING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR HURTING: OK. There are many reasons why people keep souvenirs. It doesn't always mean that the person is carrying a torch. It's possible that your husband carried the old snapshots to remind him how lucky he was to have you in his life instead of the woman he had trusted who had caused him so much pain.

I know it's convoluted thinking, but since Tom is no longer here to explain it, please hold a good thought. I'm sure the pictures had nothing to do with his feelings about you, with whom he spent seven happy years.

P.S. Wouldn't it be ironic if the pictures were there because Tom never bothered to clean out his wallet?

DEAR ABBY: As a first-time writer who loves your column, I am desperate for your advice.

I am 31, and for the past seven years have been married to a man I dearly love. We adopted two wonderful children who have made my life complete. Every day I thank God for the miracle he has given me by sending these precious little ones to us.

The problem I'm facing now seems insurmountable: My husband no longer wants to work. He was working before we adopted the kids, but now he won't stay on a job more than a few weeks at a time.

I love my children too much to put them through the heartache of doing without –- and I don't want them growing up with their dad as this kind of role model.

As much as I love my husband, I am at the point of asking him to leave. Would it be wrong for me to do that, Abby? –- ON THE BRINK IN KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C.

DEAR ON THE BRINK: Before doing anything drastic, consider this: Your husband could be ill, depressed or drug-dependent. Insist he see his physician for a complete physical exam –- and possibly counseling to explain his sudden change in behavior.

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 $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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