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by Abigail Van Buren

Husband's E Mail Flirt Lacks Stamp of Approval

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband, "Ted," for many years. He is a people person with close friends of both sexes. I have never had a problem with his having female friends because I trust him, and because these women are my friends, too.

Recently, however, a woman I'll call "Ellie" has become infatuated with my husband. At least I think she has, and I need an unbiased perspective. Ted has a separate e-mail account and he has shown me some of her messages. She calls him "Dearest" and says things like, "You are amazing; you are inspirational; you are my special friend; and you rascal, you." He either doesn't reply or is very careful how he does.

Abby, I sense that Ellie is trying to establish a separate relationship with Ted. He and I have discussed it. He thinks it's funny and we have joked about it, but we're both becoming uncomfortable around her.

We have mutual friends we see once a month for dinner. We'd have to explain to them why we want to cut off contact with Ellie. They may understand because Ellie's flirting has been escalating at these dinners. Am I being paranoid? -- WONDERING IN WASHINGTON

DEAR WONDERING: If you and Ted have both become uncomfortable because of Ellie's advances, you're not paranoid. Yes, you can withdraw from the dinners so you have less exposure to Ellie. But there is another way to handle it. Your husband can inform the woman that her attentions are making him uncomfortable and, if she wants to communicate via e-mail, she do it using your joint account -- and block her from his private one.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Gerald," and I have been married since the '70s, and in all that time we have never taken a trip or shared a vacation by ourselves. He makes the plans (even asking me where I'd like to go), but we always end up visiting one of his relatives or friends instead. And I end up doing the same things there I do at home -- cooking meals, cleaning, doing dishes and laundry -- while Gerald sits and enjoys himself.

The last time I mentioned that we have never been anywhere by ourselves, he seemed to really consider it. The next day he said, "OK, let's take a cruise." Then he said, "I'll call my brother and see if he and his wife want to come with us!"

Am I wrong in feeling upset that my husband doesn't care enough to go anywhere with just me or to a place that I want to visit? -- NEEDS A VACATION

DEAR NEEDS: Not in my book. It appears that your husband doesn't consider one-on-one time with you to be special, and that IS upsetting. When he suggested inviting his brother and sister-in-law along on the cruise, I hope you responded with a resounding "No!" But if you didn't, I'm recommending that for your next vacation, YOU make the reservations and plan the destination. After 40 years, you deserve a holiday you can enjoy.

DEAR ABBY: I have a short question I need an answer to. How do we know when it's time to end a relationship and move on? -- KIKI IN TEXAS

DEAR KIKI: The short answer is when it brings you more pain than pleasure. The longer answer is, when you make a list of the pros and cons in the relationship, and the cons outnumber the pros.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)