DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Wife No. 2 in Texas," who gets upset when her husband slips and calls her by his first wife's name, reminded me of an old boyfriend of mine.
After calling his girlfriend "Diane" by his previous girlfriend's name, he decided it would be easier to only date girls named "Diane." I was Diane No. 2. He is now married to Diane No. 3. -- DIANE NO. 2, IN OHIO
DEAR DIANE THE SECOND: I told "Wife No. 2" to buy some "Hello, My Name Is (___)" stickers and plaster one on her shoulder and one on her nightie, and that would get her message across without being heavy-handed.
Her husband's lapse is very common. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Brains are complicated organs and get "wired" after years of marriage. That old linkage doesn't just disappear, and on rare occasions when a neuron misfires, the old name may get inserted into a sentence. It's unintentional, almost impossible to avoid and doesn't mean a blessed thing. I hope the wife lets go of her resentment and forgives her husband before she damages the relationship. -- BRUCE IN EVANSTON, ILL.
DEAR BRUCE: So do I.
DEAR ABBY: My husband has made these slips of the tongue for almost 35 years. His first wife died long before I met him. I have called him by my first husband's name, too. I think it's only natural.
One of our sons is divorced and remarried, and he has done the same thing. It's just force of habit. My advice to "Wife No. 2" is ... get over it! Don't sweat the small stuff. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT ... MANY TIMES!
DEAR BT, DT, MT: You're right. I have done it too -- and so has MY husband. We laugh about it when it happens.
DEAR ABBY: Until I was 8 years old, I shared a bed with my brother, Arthur. From then on, I slept alone until I was married. On a few occasions, usually when I was half-asleep, I called my beloved young wife Arthur. I'm happy to say she took it with good humor.
You suggested a light-hearted solution, and that's the key. To become furious over such a trivial offense is bad both for her marriage and her health. -- M.L., M.D. IN N.Y.
DEAR DOCTOR L: Laughter is the best medicine. And it's a prescription everyone can afford.
DEAR ABBY: I was raised by parents who often called our female dog by my name, and me by hers because we were always together. I adore my two daughters, but I sometimes draw a blank on their names. It has become a family joke. I am not old or senile, but name confusion is not all that uncommon. And it's certainly not meant to be a slight. -- DERRY, N.H., READER
DEAR READER: It used to happen to me occasionally when I was dating. I know first-hand how embarrassing it can be. The only thing that's worse is to completely draw a blank.
DEAR ABBY: I am Wife No. 4. My husband's first wife and I have the same first name. His second and third also had the same first name. He calls me "Hon." -- LINDA IN COVINGTON, IND.
DEAR LINDA: Now there's a sweet -- and safe -- solution.
DEAR ABBY: I was married for nearly 20 years. I know from experience that what happened to Wife No. 2 is simply the result of a deeply ingrained habit. After my wife and I divorced, I met a wonderful, kind man. We have been together nearly five years. As dearly as I love him, I have called him by my ex-wife's name. -- GAY AND HAPPY IN N.C.
DEAR G AND H: Thank you for some straight talk on a sensitive subject.
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.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600