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

by Abigail Van Buren

Planned Escape Route Ensures Family Safety in Case of Fire

DEAR ABBY: Years before we met, my husband, "Phil," had a relationship with a married woman I'll call Trish. It began before we met and ended when our relationship began. Phil and Trish believe that her first child is his.

For the first seven years of this child's life, Phil watched the child from afar and continued having relations with Trish. Her husband has no clue.

I told Phil I wanted nothing to do with this charade. I said they should both fess up and come clean for the child's sake. It never happened. But since he terminated his relationship with Trish, I really couldn't complain.

Trish has continued to e-mail and call Phil attempting to arrange a dinner for the two of them so they can catch up, and he could be kept informed of the child's development. (He is now 13.) I told Phil I would entertain the idea if Trish's husband and I were included. He said that was impossible.

Last night, Phil received an e-mail from Trish stating that he had promised he would "always be there" for her -- and now he isn't. Phil didn't respond.

I don't want to cause additional hardship for the child. Am I being immature, unrealistic or unfair? Your input, please. -- PHIL'S WIFE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR WIFE: You are none of the above. You are a shrewd lady who is trying to protect her marriage.

If any dinners are planned so Phil can "be there" for Trish, you should also be there. It will send a strong message.