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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Who Hates Engagement Rings Proposes Annuity Instead

DEAR ABBY: I'm a divorcee, dating a man I'll call "Jack," who has been separated from his wife for three years. We've known each other two years and have been intimate for 11 months now.

Jack's daughter is being married in Mexico in two months. I have met both his adult children; they seem happy he is finally in a relationship. The problem is, Jack hasn't invited me to the wedding.

Jack attended my son's wedding with me last summer. It was 1,500 miles away. I had no problem taking him there.

Jack says he isn't divorced because he doesn't want to "pay the cost" of one -- although he does have a separation agreement. He's very tight with money. I don't plan to remarry, so the divorce thing isn't really an issue with me. I suspect he wants to avoid the stress of revealing our relationship to his former wife, who left him after 25 years of marriage.

I feel Jack is still living in the past, and I'm considering ending the relationship because of it. He's a wonderful, caring person, but he has a secretive side that I have a hard time dealing with. Help me to see the light. -- TROUBLED IN TORONTO

DEAR TROUBLED: Allow me to share an insight. Secretive people usually have something to hide. You refer to Jack's wife as his "former" wife, but she's not. They are still married, and whether Jack's reason for maintaining the status quo is financial or emotional, he's not ready or willing to cut the strings.

It's time for a frank talk with your "wonderful, caring" lover because he has set a precedent for what you can expect in the future. And if this spells the end of the romance, I don't think you will have lost much.