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by Abigail Van Buren

Cousin's Wedding Invitation Brings Back Painful Past

DEAR ABBY: I could never figure out why "Margaret," my wife of 20 years, married me. After our wedding she tried to give me an image makeover. She'd buy me clothes I left hanging in the closet. She'd contradict and correct me in public. In general, she'd find fault with almost everything I did. She put me down often, and if I reacted, she would either claim it wasn't what she meant to say or tell me, "You do it, too." I finally gave up and left her.

Margaret has an excellent reputation, so people try to pry into why I left her. When I tell them I won't bad-mouth her, they tell me she says plenty about me. My response is, "Then you know all there is to know, don't you?"

Two women close to my age, plus one college-age girl, are trying to pursue me. I'm afraid if I don't leave this area, Margaret will allege that I left her for one of them.

Your thoughts, please. -- KEEPING MUM IN CLEVELAND

DEAR KEEPING MUM: You didn't mention how long ago your marriage ended or whether your divorce is final. But regardless, aren't you tired of worrying about what your ex is saying about you? The marriage is over -- kaput! A move isn't necessary. An effective way to ensure that no one spreads a rumor that you left Margaret for one woman would be to spend time being seen dating all of them.