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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a woman physician in a small city. My husband is also a physician in the same practice. We have a lovely family, and both of us love our work. We donate time and resources to our community, including free medical care to people who are homeless and the working poor, and money to worthy causes. We are blessed with a wonderful life.

So why am I writing? Because I do not know how to handle a sensitive situation. Our community becomes angry when we refuse to donate to each and every cause. Abby, we give all we can; however, we are early in our careers and are still paying off our loans from medical school.

We live modestly and within our means. We love our community and want our neighbors to know that we, too, are on a budget. Most physicians have seen drastic pay cuts with increased liability, hours and overhead. Unfortunately, many doctors have left the field to pursue technology jobs with higher salaries and fewer hours. Medical schools have watched the business world lure our best and brightest into lucrative careers with less liability. Please enlighten people through your column.

I hope this letter is legible. I wrote it by hand, because I didn't want the office manager to see this on the computer. -- ANONYMOUS FAMILY DOC IN THE USA

DEAR ANONYMOUS DOC: A wise and street-smart man once observed that no one has as much money as other people assume he does. One reason for it is that everyone has a silent partner -- the tax man. And everyone is aware of the effect that managed care has had on the medical community.

For your neighbors to become angry when you cannot donate to each and every cause is wrong. When it comes to charitable giving, like everything else, people must prioritize. There are many worthy causes, and it is impossible to give to all of them. You can't please everyone, so stop allowing people who sulk to lay a guilt trip on you.

Remind your neighbors that you give in ways other than money. Continue to do your best. You have much to be proud of, and your community is lucky to have you.

DEAR ABBY: My husband passed away four years ago. About two years ago, a dear friend, "Hugh," lost his wife. Hugh and I went on two dates and hit it off. He told me he loved me and always had. I have a deep affection for him. Nine months after his wife passed away, we moved in together and have been living together ever since.

Hugh and I are happy, but I would like to be married. At first, he asked me to give him time to deal with his loss. A year ago, he confessed that he had made a deathbed promise to his late wife that he would not marry again. He wants to see her in the afterlife.

Christianity says there is no marriage in heaven. Even though we may see loved ones there, we wouldn't be married. Hugh says he's working on getting past this, but I am beginning to think he may never let go of the baggage he's carrying.

I want a life with Hugh. I am trying to be patient, but I feel he has let me down. Have you any advice for a forlorn person? -- GROWING IMPATIENT IN RICHMOND

DEAR GROWING: Hugh should have leveled with you from the beginning. Had he done so, you would have been better informed before setting up housekeeping with him. As it stands, he is enjoying all the benefits of marriage without any of the responsibilities, and that is unfair to you.

If it's marriage you want, be prepared to move out. Hugh has some important decisions to make -- and he may not make them until he feels your absence.

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