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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple's Minor Spat Signals Major Marriage Meltdown

DEAR ABBY: A month ago, I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. My husband and I have been together for 12 years. He didn't lay a hand on me until a year ago.

We got into an argument on Valentine's Day, and he slapped me twice that night. It happened again last month. We separated after the second incident, but I couldn't afford to move out because I've been a stay-at-home mom for six years.

Tonight we had a minor spat, and he broke my nose. An hour later, his 21-year-old girlfriend drove over and picked him up, and here my 7-year-old son and I sit, while he not only gets sympathy, but also companionship and sex.

Abby, please tell young women that getting involved with married men isn't just stupid; it's dangerous -- and often to the woman he's married to when the single woman comes into his life. -- BRUISED IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR BRUISED: I'm broadcasting your message, but don't expect much response. Men who cheat on their wives are not above lying to their girlfriends. No doubt he has filled her head with what a terrible wife you are and how unhappy you have made him. That's the "lure" to snag her in the role of "rescuer."

Perhaps you should warn her so she doesn't become victim No. 2. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, have some taken of you before your bruises heal. The police should also be contacted, and the battery put on record.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have one child, and we have decided that we are having no more. People frequently ask when we're having another child, and when we say, "Never!" they always demand to know why.

When we tell them our reasons, they go on and on about how we shouldn't make our little girl an only child and how "cruel" that would be to her.

What can we say to politely end everyone's incessant need to criticize us for not having more children? Do you agree that this is a rude question? -- HAVING FUN WITH ONE IN N.Y.

DEAR HAVING FUN: I certainly do, because that question is often painful to answer. You might catch less flak if, instead of saying "Never!" you reply as my friend Sherry does. She says, "I had the first one. It's up to my husband to have the second." That usually stops 'em.

DEAR ABBY: I think my sister has an eating disorder. She's rail-thin and is always watching her calorie intake. My concern is that she does it with my 3-year-old nephew, too. She has the child on a strict diet, counting his carb and calorie intake. Her little boy is still eating baby food (made for ages 6 to 9 months), and I'm afraid he will develop an eating disorder, too. What can I do? -- WORRIED AUNT IN VIRGINIA

DEAR WORRIED AUNT: Children have very different nutritional needs than adults, and your sister needs to be aware of what they are. Encourage your sister to consult her son's pediatrician about the eating program her child is on to assure he's getting the nutrients he needs for optimum brain and body development. A session with a dietitian who's credentialed by the American Dietetic Association would also be a good idea. (They have "R.D." after their names.)

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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