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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I love my husband and don't want to lose him. He has always been my knight in shining armor, but I now know for a fact that he's cheating.

Last night he left for a week to be with a woman he paid to fly here. She does not know he's married. Actually, there is a lot she doesn't know.

I have always lived by the poem that says if you love something -- set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours, but if it doesn't, it never belonged to you in the first place.

Abby, this man has left and come back to me five times! Each time, he tells me he loves me, and I believe him. I should mention that he is from London, and I am a native Texan, still living in the town where I grew up. England is where SHE is from -- and where he always goes.

My husband accuses me of trying to take away his friends and control him. Believe me, I am not. All I ever wanted was a peaceful, happy life with the man I love.

What should I do? I feel like a fool, but I love my husband dearly. -- WIFE WITH AN ACHING HEART

DEAR WIFE: While the poem you have paraphrased has a lovely message, I seriously doubt that your troubled marriage was what the poet had in mind.

You say the woman doesn't know your husband is married. That means he's cheating on both of you. You and the English ladyfriend are overdue for a truth session.

Texas women are supposed to be tough. Ask yourself, "What would Ann Richards do?" Tell him to get back in the corral or you'll turn him into a gelding. Your wandering spouse may have been born in England, but that doesn't entitle him to bolt whenever he feels like it.

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from "Tired and Worried in the Midwest," a 21-year-old mother of a 19-month-old child. She was separated from an abusive husband and said she did not know how to handle her daughter's constant crying. You suggested she see a pediatrician for a referral to a child psychiatrist.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, here's what I think: "Tired and Worried" appears to be a young, inexperienced mom who has lost control of her own life. Her 19-month-old may not need to see a child psychiatrist nearly as much as this young mother needs a parenting skills class. They are offered at local adult education programs or community colleges, as well as the YMCA and many churches.

"Tired and Worried" could also use some personal therapy to help untangle herself from her controlling family, as well as develop assertion skills that may prevent her from getting into another abusive relationship. She can find referrals for low-fee counseling in the phone book or from her local community mental health agencies.

When this young woman wrote, "I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown," it was a cry for help that's needed before she -- or her baby -- are injured. -- JAELLINE JAFFE, PH.D.

DEAR DR. JAFFE: Your solution may be better than the one I offered. However, before finding a therapist listed in the phone book, it's preferable to get a referral from a physician. They usually refer to someone they know whose expertise they trust.

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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