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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Last summer I met "Lauren," a single mom who was new to our neighborhood. We began jogging together in the mornings. When she needed help trimming a tree, I volunteered my husband, "Dave," who was happy to help.

After that, Lauren began calling Dave for every favor she needed -- going with her to buy tires, helping to paint two bedrooms of her house, getting an estimate on her car and taking her kids on motorcycle rides -- some of which last all day. Lauren recently told Dave she doesn't like me, and that I have started false rumors about her, which is totally untrue!

Both my husband and Lauren maintain they're "just friends." Clearly, she has become more HIS friend than mine. When an attractive, single woman calls a married man eight times in a two-hour period -- something's up.

Dave says I need to "deal with it" -- that he has a good time with her and her kids, and he's sorry I feel he's putting me second. It's to the point that I may ask him to move out. Dave says he's put too much money in our house to leave. What should I do, Abby? -- TIRED OF BEING SECOND FIDDLE

DEAR TIRED: Tell your husband that he may have put too much money into the house to leave, but YOU have put too much time and effort into the marriage to let it collapse. Offer him the chance to save your marriage with counseling. And if he refuses, talk to a lawyer and protect your interests, because as it stands, you have been emotionally abandoned.

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend recently gave me a beautiful engagement ring. It is custom-designed. I like it, but I also remember a story he told me when we first began dating. He mentioned he'd had a ring designed for an old girlfriend, but she had refused it. Abby, I think this is the same ring! It makes me uncomfortable knowing that the ring he gave me might have been designed with another woman in mind.

Should I ask him about it with the fear he might get defensive? Or should I adopt a "don't ask/don't tell" policy? -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: Speak up and ask. And if the answer to your question is yes, let him know that you would prefer another setting. An engagement ring is supposed to be a symbol of his love for you -- and you alone.

DEAR ABBY: Yesterday, my 27-year-old daughter was coming out of a store behind a woman who was reeking of very strong perfume. It triggered an asthma attack and my daughter ended up in the emergency room.

Would you please remind your readers that they should apply their perfume with discretion, and that there are people who are allergic to it and could end up seriously ill if they are exposed to it? -- KATHY IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR KATHY: Your message has been in this column before, but it is one that's worth repeating, and I'm pleased to help. It applies to both women and men, because in many cases both sexes are equally heavy-handed when it comes to applying scents. To steal a line from an old jingle, "A little dab'll do ya." So please show some consideration for those whom you encounter in the workplace, in elevators and on airplanes as well. In an enclosed environment, the effects can be overpowering, or even life-threatening.

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.)

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