DEAR ABBY: My fifth-grade son, "Mikey," is considered the best soccer player on our community team. My problem is the mother of another player on the team. I'll call her Phyllis. At least three other moms have told me that Phyllis has been criticizing me at the games to anyone who'll listen.
I have never done anything to her, and I'm beginning to wonder if she's bad-mouthing me because my Mikey is a better soccer player than her boy. (Everyone knows the only reason her son is on the team is because his dad is the coach.)
Last Saturday, I was standing on the sidelines talking with another mother about the team's treats schedule, when Phyllis marched up and told me the treats I've been bringing to the games are junk food. How insulting! I made them myself.
Abby, I've had it with her. I try to stay as far away from this crazy-maker as I can. Is there a law against slandering someone like she's been doing to me? No way am I going to put up with her nonsense until our sons graduate from high school. Please help. -- SOCCER MOM READY TO SOCK-IT-TO-HER
DEAR SOCCER MOM: There are laws against slander, but in order to win a lawsuit you have to prove damages. Obviously, Phyllis is the community loudmouth. (Three people have told you so.) Continue to take the high road and ignore her comments. If you don't allow yourself to react to them, she'll look like a combative fool.
DEAR ABBY: My wife, "Ruthie," and I have been together for 10 years and married for five. We have three beautiful children. Last year, I caught Ruthie having an affair, but I eventually forgave her.
To this day, every time my wife leaves the house, I can't help asking her who she's meeting, where she'll be, what time I can expect her home -- and if she's going to cheat on me again. Every once in a while, I still find strange phone numbers in her pocket or purse. When I call, the men always say they didn't know Ruthie was married. Then they quickly break it off with her.
Abby, I want my marriage to last. I love my wife with all my heart. What can I do to make my marriage to Ruthie better? -- KENTUCKY HUSBAND
DEAR HUSBAND: Counseling might help if your wife sincerely wants to save the marriage. It's possible that she is a sex addict. If she's willing to admit that she has a problem, Sexaholics Anonymous can be helpful. It's a self-help group for sexually compulsive men and women. It can be contacted by writing: P.O. Box 111910, Nashville, TN 37222-1910. The Web site is: www.sa.org.
If all else fails, consult a family law attorney and see what your options are. You deserve to be respected, and your first responsibility is to your children.
P.S. Have you been checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)? If the answer is no, you should be. Please don't wait.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old male. I live at home. My problem is my uncle, "Barney." He's my dad's brother. Uncle Barney always takes Dad out to eat and shopping and stuff and never invites me. Sometimes he will ask my dad right in front of me. It makes me feel awkward and unwanted. How should I handle this? -- EXCLUDED IN MARYSVILLE, CALIF.
DEAR EXCLUDED: Tell your uncle privately how you feel when he extends an invitation in your presence and excludes you. Tell your father that occasionally you would like to be included. It's possible they don't realize that their conversation would interest you. It's worth a try.
If that doesn't work, consider this: Sometimes people who live together need a break from each other. Don't take it personally. Cultivate friends your own age.
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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