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by Abigail Van Buren

Window Into Husband's World Opens Up Profile of Deceit

DEAR ABBY: I am a married mother of two, with what I thought was a good marriage. My husband, "Charles," and I like to surf the Web, and trust each other enough not to check user histories -- but one morning he forgot to close a window on his computer.

What I saw shook me. Charles had joined a "married but looking" Web site about a year ago. It was news to me. I thought we had a strong marriage. His profile said he wanted a casual, discreet "fling" with no strings attached. It said that he was married, but not happily! (He never said that to me.) It also showed that he had contacted three women, one here in our small town.

I am deeply hurt. Even if he hasn't followed through, I feel that he has cheated on me by contacting those women. I know I need to talk to him and find out what is going on, but I don't know how to approach him without him claiming that I invaded his privacy.

Marriage counseling is not an option. Money is tight, and the minister of the church where we attend is his uncle. Why didn't he come to me and say he isn't happy? Please tell me what to do. -- HURT AND HUMILIATED IN ADRIAN, MICH.

DEAR HURT: Your husband may be as scared of telling you he's unhappy as you are to tell him that you know. Subconsciously, I suspect he wanted to be caught. That's why he "forgot" to close the window on his computer. For the sake of your marriage, it's time to clear the air.

Tell Charles that you are aware of his extracurricular activities and how you feel. Do not allow him to put you on the defensive. If you think he might lie, contact the women and ask what's been going on. If you can't afford marriage counseling, seek aid and comfort from a clergyperson. Since you prefer not to confide in your husband's uncle, consult another minister.

P.S. Because you now question Charles' fidelity, talk to your doctor and ask to be checked for STDs.

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman in my 30s with a group of close friends who have been together since college. We have a question on which we are divided.

A couple of the women feel it is OK to apply lipstick, or powder their noses, at the table in a restaurant. The others feel it's inappropriate. We realize that in the scheme of things, this is a small issue, but it's causing unrest among us. There is also the question of whether or not it is appropriate to talk on a cell phone at the restaurant table. -- NEEDS A REPLY IN DAVIDSONVILLE, MD.

DEAR NEEDS: You're right; in the scheme of things, it is a small issue. I was taught that if the repair is a "quickie" -- a dab of powder or an unobtrusive application of lipstick -- it is permissible at the table. If it takes more than a minute, the repair job should be done in the ladies' room.

As to cell phones: It is rude and distracting to use one at the table, and some restaurants ask guests to turn them off so other diners are not disturbed by the ringing.

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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