DEAR ABBY: My darling and I were married six weeks ago. His lawyer told him that his divorce from his first wife was final, and he was just waiting for the papers to come back, so we went ahead and got married.
Now it turns out the lawyer did not even submit the papers to the judge until a couple of days ago! What do I do? Who do I talk to? We want to be remarried as soon as possible. Does the marriage need to be voided through the courthouse, or can we just redo the ceremony? I have no clue even where to begin.
I cannot ask his lawyer because the last time we did, he said he would "take care of it." I no longer trust him. I think he is just telling us what he thinks we want to hear. -- MARRIED? IN ARKANSAS
DEAR MARRIED?: You are right not to trust him. Your "husband's" lawyer could be guilty of malpractice. He has turned the man you "married" from a law-abiding citizen into a bigamist.
The place to begin is your state bar association. Contact it and request a referral to an attorney who's on the up-and-up. I'm sure the association will be glad to provide one -- and to know that one of its members is a disgrace to the profession. Please don't wait; do it now.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married 17 years. Over the past 13 of them, my husband, "Sam," has had 15 different jobs, and he's currently unemployed again. Every time we almost dig our way out of debt, he picks a fight with management.
In 2004, Sam had four jobs in one year. I have no more nest egg left. Our credit score is a shambles.
Sam's biggest concern has always been his golf game. We have a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. They are hurt and embarrassed by our financial condition. I have a good job, but I have a heart condition that could disable me at any time.
Why on earth would a 41-year-old man not care about his family enough to make a living for them? Should I leave Sam to prove a point? Every time I try to leave, he threatens suicide. -- RUNNING IN CIRCLES IN ARIZONA
DEAR RUNNING IN CIRCLES: Since I don't know your husband, I can't offer an explanation regarding why he started his golfing holiday instead of continuing to work -- right at the time your children started arriving. Should you leave him? I think so, because the stress of supporting three "children" could explain the reason for your heart condition. As to his threats of suicide, they are classic examples of emotional blackmail. I'm sure if you go -- if only for a while -- you'll be amazed at the strength of his survival instinct once he's off the gravy train.
DEAR ABBY: I am a single woman in my 20s and would like to know a good way to decline a man's request for my telephone number at a party or social situation. I'm not crazy about saying that I don't give out my number, because the truth is, if I was interested in the guy, I would give it to him. Too often I end up giving my number and then feeling guilty when screening my calls and not returning his.
Please don't tell me I should "give the guy a chance" -- some of these men are 20-plus years older than I am. -- SCREENING MY CALLS IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR SCREENING: It's not hard to refuse to give out your phone number. When someone says, "May I have it?" all you have to say is, "Why don't you give me yours?" Then you can follow up -- or not. It's a tried-and-true technique men have practiced for years.
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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