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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Last week I kicked my husband out of the house. "Joel" and I have been married four years and have a 3-year-old son.

Two years ago, Joel took up with "Connie," a 20-year-old single co-worker. He insisted they were just friends. When I found love letters from Connie in his wallet, Joel swore the letters were not from her. (Oh, come on!)

Things got messy when I started checking my husband's cell phone bill and discovered he was calling Connie several times a day. Upon checking further, I learned that some of his co-workers also thought something was up.

When Joel learned I'd been asking questions, he became very angry. Then Connie started calling him at the house at all hours. Once, around midnight, she got into a tangle with some guy and instead of calling police, she called Joel -- who rushed right over.

Since then I have caught Joel in more lies about where he was going. I have also caught my husband and his "friend" parked in empty parking lots and dead-end streets.

He says he doesn't want a divorce, but every time we talk, we end up fighting because he tries to twist the facts around to make me look like a fishwife.

Should I wait it out to see if Joel will come home to his son and me? Or should I cut him off, divorce him, and pray that God will send me a man who will give me the respect and love I deserve? -- SPURNED WIFE IN TEXAS

DEAR SPURNED: Your husband appears to be a remorseless manipulator. Even if you reconcile, what kind of example would he be for your son as he grows older? And could you ever trust him again?

You have asked me to make a decision for you that only you should make. Counseling can help you to determine what you want and need to do. Some marriages can be saved, but only if both parties are willing to work at it, and your husband appears to be unwilling or unable to end his affair.

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with two daughters, 2 and 4. I love them with all my heart, but I'm afraid my yelling is affecting them. I can't control it, and when I do it, I frighten them. They cover their bodies and start to cry. I have never hit either of them.

This is causing huge fights with their father. He is very involved with them, and he sometimes yells but they don't react the same way.

I feel like a bad mother and monster. What can I do to stop myself from losing my temper and have a better relationship with my daughters? I'm afraid I'll hurt them. -- FEARFUL IN MINNESOTA

DEAR FEARFUL: The first thing you must do is get to the bottom of what's triggering your anger. Is this how you were treated as a child? If so, you should know firsthand how damaging verbal abuse can be. Are your expectations of your little ones unrealistic? If that's the case, parenting classes could be helpful. Many school districts and hospitals offer them.

In the meantime, when you feel you're about to blow your stack, leave the room. If necessary, go outside for a few minutes. Count to 10 -- slowly. Decompress. Get a grip. Once you have calmed down, you'll be better able to act in an adult and rational manner, rather than react.

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