DEAR ABBY: I am the "other woman." I never in a million years thought I'd be in this position. I had been divorced for several years. I should have run the other way once I learned that my lover was married, but I was lonely. I wanted to feel like a woman again -- someone a man found attractive and would like to spend time with.
Some things I have come to understand as the other woman: If husbands and wives treated each other as well as they do their best friends, there would be fewer affairs and cheating spouses. I don't consider myself a "mistress." There is no exchange of money, cars, jewels, furs and no condo or apartment for my use. Nor am I a home wrecker -- my lover's marriage is still intact. What do I get? A wonderful lover, best friend and someone who helps me out around my home.
We give each other our undivided attention when we're together. We make the most of every opportunity we have to enjoy each other's company. I can't imagine life without him. We please and give to each other during our lovemaking. I believe we came into each other's lives for a reason.
Please advise men and women to love each other even when it hurts. Don't let issues fester into sores. Make love with your spouse even if it's not your cup of tea. Sex is a glue that can keep your marriage together. This connection brings a closeness words cannot describe. Don't lose that with your spouse. You'll long to have it back one day.
The other woman is not evil, a tramp or a whore. You could be her one day. She's just someone who is as lonely as the man is. Tell wives to protect their marriage, to swallow their pride, admit there are issues that need resolving and work through them. And one more thing: Don't think you will never be in my shoes. -- THE OTHER WOMAN, ANYWHERE, U.S.A.
DEAR OTHER WOMAN: That's good advice. Now allow me to offer some to you. I, too, believe your lover came into your life for a reason. He was bored, you were needy and both of you were vulnerable.
The times your lover steals to be with you are hours he should be spending with his family. The passion he devotes to you guarantees that his energies won't be spent working on his marital problems.
You may be "best friends," but when the chips are down where do you think your lover will be? With his wife, his family and his money, Honey. If you need a handyman, hire one. And now that you know what mistakes NOT to make in a relationship, find a man who can be 100 percent yours and pray he has more character than your lover does.
DEAR ABBY: How do I decline my girlfriend's request to be in the delivery room with her and her husband when she has her baby? I don't want to hurt her feelings. I will go with her to the hospital and wait in the waiting room, but I really don't want to see the show. -- SQUEAMISH IN WEST VIRGINIA
DEAR SQUEAMISH: Tell her the truth -- that you are honored to have been asked, but that you can't handle the sight of blood, and it would be better for all concerned if you stayed in the waiting room. And don't let her talk you out of it. At a special moment like this, the mother and baby should be the center of attention -- not the friend who fainted, hit the floor and needed medical attention.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)