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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Is Betrayed by Man's Repeated Internet Infidelity

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for many years. We have three happy, successful children and a good life together. I love him dearly.

I recently discovered that he had been spending a lot of time in erotic online chat rooms. He had hundreds of contacts he was speaking with regularly for pleasure. It had escalated to the point that he would have "conversations" with them on the phone or watch them on a webcam.

After I caught him, he promised to stop. I caught him again and threatened to leave him. He swore that he had never met any of these people and that he had used a fictitious name. He's now getting counseling and expects me to get beyond it. I am trying, but I feel betrayed. I feel as though he was unfaithful.

I am sure you have other readers out there who have experienced Internet infidelity. Do you consider it cheating if they never actually physically meet the people they talk to? I have no one to discuss this with and would appreciate some input. -- JUST PLAIN SAD IN MAINE

DEAR JUST PLAIN SAD: Yes, I do consider it a form of cheating. And it would be in your interest to get to the bottom of why this happened before you "get beyond it."

You're feeling sad because you were betrayed. And the fact that you have no one to discuss it with makes me sad. That's why I'm advising you that you could also benefit from counseling, and I recommend that you seek a referral right away.

DEAR ABBY: I have two great-nephews. I would like to invite one of them to help me on a big shopping trip, but I don't want to include his brother.

The 10-year-old is a sweet boy who always shows respect for his elders. His 12-year-old brother is a smart-mouth, arrogant know-it-all. How can I invite one without having to put up with the other? -- GREAT-AUNT SUSIE ON THE EAST COAST

DEAR GREAT-AUNT SUSIE: Just pick up the phone and ask his mother if you can bring the younger boy along to help you on the trip. Don't mention the older boy. And if his mother brings him up, tell her what you have told me. However, if you plan to shower the younger one with gifts on that trip and "forget" the older one, I'd advise against it because it will create resentment and the target will be the younger boy.

DEAR ABBY: How do you handle someone who needs to constantly flaunt his money? That person is my boss. He makes a lot of money, and he enjoys rubbing it in my face. He never fails to tell me how much he pays for purchases -- from cars to clothing, even to how much he paid for his mother's funeral. He literally approaches my desk with his checkbook open and points out the amount.

This man spends more on clothes in a month than I earn in a year. He takes his cash out of his pocket and counts it in front of me. I feel like he's waiting for some kind of reaction from me, but I don't give in.

Can you think of a way for me to stop him in his tracks when he starts regaling me with his next shopping spree? -- FRUGAL OFFICE WORKER IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR OFFICE WORKER: I sure can. Tell him you need a raise.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)