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DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Hurt and Sad in Trenton," whose wife slept with a married man before they were married, stunk.

"Hurt's" wife should have said right from the start: "This is who I am; this is where I've been. Take me as I am or let's go our separate ways." If she'd been honest, he'd have no cause to complain.

Reflecting back on years spent in ignorance turns happy marriages bitter, as one realizes one was played for a fool. Suddenly the "innocent" nights out of old assume an ominous character. Is it not better to risk a relationship at the beginning by telling the truth, than to risk its implosion years later when the truth will come out?

"Hurt" deserved sympathy, not an attack. His wife betrayed his trust, not with sex before she met him, but with lies afterward. -- NORTH OF TRENTON

DEAR NORTH OF TRENTON: I did not "attack" the writer of that letter. I advised him to stop the name-calling and get religious and psychological counseling -- although I may have made a few other points along the way. Perhaps you would like to sample the reactions of other male readers to that letter. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: The man who wrote that letter is an idiot. You were right to tell him his wife deserves better. His lofty ideals seem to take precedence over all else, and his comments do not portend a bright future for them.

To paraphrase your words: The place for a good wife (or husband) is neither on a pedestal nor in the gutter. It's on a comfy sofa, each with an arm around the other -- cuddling and secure in the knowledge of the love they share. -- GARY IN WORCESTER, N.Y.

DEAR ABBY: I, too, have been married 15 years. We also have two children. I, too, recently learned about my wife having an affair with a married man, but it happened during the last year or so. I never strayed -- not once. She betrayed my love for her, and I'm a train wreck. "Hurt and Sad" should walk in my shoes. He was by no means betrayed by something that happened before he knew his wife. Unlike mine, his wife has honored her marriage vows.

The problem in their marriage is his Middle Ages attitude that regards women as chattel. His wife is not a used car. He needs a therapist, badly, and I happen to know a good one who is helping me through the toughest time of my life. Oh, and since I live only one town away from him, tell "Hurt and Sad" that if he's tossing his "slut" into the "gutter," let me know where and when. I'd be more than happy to embrace his "dirty laundry." She sounds like just the person I'm searching for to restore my trust. -- DEVASTATED IN PRINCETON, N.J.

DEAR ABBY: It seems to me that "Hurt and Sad" is looking for a way out, a justifiable excuse to prove to his Catholic family and friends that divorce was "unavoidable." He says he'll stay for the children, but peppers her with accusations. Maybe he's hoping she'll be verbally abused into filing for divorce so he will be off the hook.

He needs to stop hiding behind the church and start following all of the Catholic faith, not just those beliefs he agrees with. Her sins are only to be resolved between her and her God. She does not need her husband's "almighty" grace. If he's as perfect as he insinuates, I'll be the first to nominate him for sainthood. -- VIC IN DALLAS

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 $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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