DEAR ABBY: My husband's mother and sister died within the past two years. My husband of 26 years suffered a great loss. Nine months ago, he walked out on me and our children. He said he was no longer in love with me and hasn't been for five years. He said he was confused and needed time away to think. He told me he was moving in with a guy from his office.
I learned that was a lie. He's been living in New Jersey with a woman he'd been seeing for months. He had treated me like dirt for years, but I loved him anyway, so I accepted it.
He called last night to say he wants to come home. Since he's been gone, I have turned my life around, and I've never been happier. I think I deserve to be with a person who values me -- and he deserves everything that's coming to him. My family and friends think I should take him back. Am I doing the right thing? -- DOUBTING IN DELAWARE
DEAR DOUBTING: Your family isn't going to have to live with him -- you are. He treated you like dirt for years and damaged your self-esteem. Only in his absence have you been able to rebuild it. Don't take him back unless you still want to after many months of marriage counseling.
DEAR ABBY: I am married to a wonderful man who has a well-mannered 8-year-old son, "Derek." We also have two young children of our own. My husband is supposed to see Derek every other weekend. The problem is, Derek visits our home every weekend because his mother is off "doing her own thing."
I don't mind having Derek around, but it makes me angry that his mother is using us as free baby sitters. If we refuse, she sends Derek to one of her low-life relatives. She even drops him off at our house when he has a temperature and is contagious.
My husband says he would rather have Derek with us than with her family, but I am growing resentful because I work and have my own children to care for. What do you think? -- FEELING USED IN CLEVELAND
DEAR FEELING USED: Derek is your husband's child, and the only stabilizing influences in his life are his father and you. None of this is his fault. You are in a position to make a huge difference in his life -- and he will love you for it. Please try harder not to resent him.
DEAR ABBY: I am 17 and have been dating "Matt" for two years. We just started attending a small college together. Although I care for Matt, I am hoping that as our freshman year progresses, I can date other boys. (Matt is the only boy I have ever dated.) My mother is furious that Matt and I are attending the same school. She doesn't like him and has made it clear she wants me to break up with him.
Abby, should I tell Matt now that I want to date other people and just break up with him out of the blue? I tried to break up with him once before, and he became hysterical.
What should I do? -- STRESSED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR STRESSED: It would be beneficial for both of you to make a fresh start in college. Tell him you want to date others -- your mother demands it -- and that he should date others, too. If he becomes "hysterical" again, urge him to seek counseling at the student health center. He appears to need it because he is overly dependent on you, and that's not healthy for either of you.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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