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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Larry," walked out on me 13 months ago for "Crystal," a woman who had slept with one of our sons as well as my niece's husband. I was devastated. I begged him to come back, but he said no, so I filed for divorce. It became final in January.

Now Larry says he made a big mistake and wants me back, so I told him to call Crystal on the phone in front of me and repeat to her what he had just told me -- that he was with her only to spite me. He refused. He said he never talked bad about me to her, and he always told her he wanted to come back to me. I don't believe it. I think Larry wants to come home only because Crystal's husband drove up unannounced on Thanksgiving and caught him at her house. I think he realizes it's over for them because Crystal's husband isn't about to leave her alone.

Should I drop this man after more than 27 years of marriage? Is it too much to ask him to confront her? Because, as it stands, Crystal thinks he'll continue to come and see her. -- STILL DEVASTATED IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR DEVASTATED: He's already "dropped." You made your decision -- a sound one, by the way – when you divorced him. It's not "asking too much" that he prove his sincerity by confronting the woman he left you for. His refusal should dispel any lingering doubts in your mind. You will be happier if you celebrate your freedom and go on with your life without looking back.

DEAR ABBY: After two years of dating, my boyfriend, "Dan," and I have become engaged. Dan was married before and has two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 10. I have no children of my own, so it has been a blessed, but sometimes bumpy road, accepting them into my life.

For the most part, the girls and I get along well, but there is one issue that really bothers me. When we have the girls, the 10-year-old, "Kelsey," frequently parades around in her underwear, or attempts to sleep only in her underwear. I feel she's too old to be doing this. I bought her several sets of pajamas to sleep in, thinking it would solve the problem.

Last night I caught her in only her underwear again. I told Dan it bothers me, and his response was, "She's only 10." Abby, Kelsey is old enough to be going through puberty, so to me she is too old to go around without proper clothing. And even though she is an undeveloped 10-year-old, I explained to Dan that I want his daughters to grow up respecting themselves and their bodies. (I have also told this to Kelsey.)

I fear that Kelsey does this at her mother's and other relatives' homes. Their mother isn't the most respectable person and, sad to say, was raised to be "trashy." I am trying to be a positive influence in these children's lives. I would like them to turn into proper young ladies with good morals and values. Am I wrong? -- UNOFFICIAL STEPMOM IN TEXAS

DEAR UNOFFICIAL STEPMOM: Yes, although well-intended, I think you are. Kelsey sleeps in her underwear because that's the way she's used to sleeping and she's comfortable that way. It will have no effect on the degree to which she "respects herself and her body" unless you turn it into a power struggle.

Because you feel she's too old to be walking around in her underwear, you're within your rights to ask her to put on a robe. But if you want to teach the children good morals and values, the way to do it is to stop nagging, set a good example, and refrain from making nasty comments about their "trashy" mother.

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