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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife in Good Marriage Can't Stop Loving Her Ex

DEAR ABBY: I am 34 years old, married and very confused. My current husband, "Austin," and I have a good marriage. He is wonderful to me. I have three children from a previous marriage.

My ex-husband, "Chet," and I are great friends. I have never stopped loving him. That is my problem. I dream of Chet every night. I think of him all day. I don't know how to get him out of my mind and heart.

Abby, I am committed to my marriage and take my vows seriously, but it's almost like I am emotionally cheating on Austin. I have even considered leaving him because I feel so guilty about the way I feel. I know I could never be reunited with Chet, but I don't think I love Austin the way a wife should.

Is it wrong to have feelings about your children's father? -- CONFLICTED IN COLORADO

DEAR CONFLICTED: No. Chet may have been a poor husband, but the attraction you felt for him is still powerful. I call it moth-to-the-flame syndrome. Even though the moth may get singed to oblivion, the attraction is still there.

What would be wrong would be to ACT on those feelings. Consider this: The objects we dream about are usually symbolic. Counseling could help you to figure out what Chet symbolizes in your dreams and fantasies. It may not be what you think.

DEAR ABBY: Our elementary school second-grade class had an assembly conducted by the local fire department. The firemen demonstrated their equipment, let the children try on helmets and protective clothing, and talked to them about fire safety. One thing they did was show the children how to crawl out of a room or house that was on fire.

One child in the class is in a wheelchair. He cannot walk or crawl or maneuver his manual chair by himself. This student's one-on-one aide thought the boy should learn what HE should do if he was ever in a fire. She decided that he could yell for help so the firemen could find him.

Now when she brings him to my office for toileting, she puts him on the toilet and then leaves the room to give him some privacy. When he's ready to get back in his chair, he is to yell loudly. His normal speaking voice is very soft, so he had to be trained to yell loudly. Some people in the school have been frightened when they heard him yell, "Help! I'm in here!" from the bathroom -– but it just may save his life one day. -- TUCSON, ARIZ., EDUCATOR

DEAR EDUCATOR: I am all for a child being prepared in case of an emergency. What concerns me is the possibility that the child's cries would be discounted if a real emergency were to occur. It is unwise to instruct a child to yell "Help!" unless there is danger. Assistance in the restroom could just as easily be gained by shouting, "Agnes, I'm ready now!" The message would be accurate and not frighten anyone.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding the sister-in-law who parades around the house naked. I wonder if the couple who live there would like to supplement their income by taking in a boarder. Tell them Grandpa's suitcase is packed! -- NATURE LOVER IN THE NORTHWEST

DEAR NATURE LOVER: Unpack your suitcase, Grandpa. They have enough problems already.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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