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Only Paperwork Holds This Marriage Together

DEAR ABBY: I moved to Florida six years ago and got involved with a man soon after I arrived. He had just ended a 10-year relationship with his girlfriend. Two years later, he asked me to marry him. I was overjoyed -- and I was three months pregnant when I walked down the aisle.

When our daughter was barely 6 months old, I caught my husband having an affair with his ex. I was going to leave him, but I discovered I was pregnant with our son. He would leave for weekends, after fighting with me and getting drunk, to go see his former girlfriend. I finally had enough and filed for divorce.

My daughter is now 2 1/2 and my son is 15 months old. They haven't seen their father in almost three months. We all miss him. I thought he would return to me, but he hasn't. He has moved on.

I'm in my 20s with two kids. I hate being alone, but can't move on because my husband refuses to sign the divorce papers. What should I do? -- SAD AND ALONE IN FLORIDA

DEAR SAD AND ALONE: My legal experts tell me there is a procedure you can go through that will allow you to divorce your husband even though he refuses to sign the papers. Please discuss it with a lawyer.

Also check with the district attorney's office in your community. The staff there may be able to help you get child support, at no cost to you. Sometimes when spouses are forced to pay child support, they develop an interest in their children. As long as your husband is sober and behaving responsibly, this should be encouraged.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my boyfriend for five years. I'm only 18. Four months ago, I moved out of my parents' home so I could move in with him. Now I miss my mom and dad, but I don't want to tell my boyfriend. What should I do? -- HURTING IN MAINE

DEAR HURTING: You have a right to your feelings, and you're making a mistake to keep them hidden. You also have a right to change your mind. Consider this a valuable lesson. Go home and concentrate on your education. A woman should have the skills to be financially independent before linking up with a mate.

DEAR ABBY: I am a nursing home administrator employed by a large facility. I began my career as a nursing assistant, and in that capacity enjoyed caring for geriatric nursing home residents. My love for the work propelled me into nursing school, enabling me to have more input into the quality of patient care. After that, I was frequently promoted to higher positions and finally returned to school to become an administrator.

The truth is -- I hate it! I have somehow lost sight of my original goals. I have minimal patient contact and am miserable. The problem is, I have four children and we need the extra money my position provides. Also, I am reluctant to resign because I would be considered a "quitter."

I am a good administrator and have received outstanding performance reviews by the board of health. However, I cannot ignore the fact that I am deeply unhappy not having the opportunity to give hands-on patient care. What should I do? -- MISSING MY PATIENTS IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR MISSING: Push for the right to be hands-on at least half a day a week. Tell management it will make you a better administrator. (It will!) When your children are older and you need less money, follow your heart.

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