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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Is Sick of Houseguest Who's Regained His Health

DEAR ABBY: My husband gave a friend of his -- I'll call him "Fred" -- a place to stay and nursed him back to health after Fred was critically injured while driving an ATV. Fred was drunk at the time.

That was six years ago, and Fred is still here. While he has helped my husband with a few chores, he does not work. My husband provides him with a travel trailer, utilities, food and beer money. Fred is 47 years old and perfectly capable of working. I feel he is being disrespectful, and I want to set some ground rules -- getting a job and staying out of our house when we are not home, for starters.

My husband doesn't seem able to have a discussion with Fred. Am I selfish and un-Christian? This is straining my marriage. Please help. -- FEELING USED IN ARIZONA

DEAR FEELING USED: I'll try. Although your husband may have had the noblest of motives in taking his injured friend in after his injury and nursing him back to health, he's doing the man no favors by continuing to foster his dependence. While I can see what Fred is getting out of this, it's time your husband explained to you what HE is getting out of it.

Under the circumstances, your feelings of being encroached upon are 100 percent valid. And unless you want the rest of your married life to be a family of three, you will have to draw the line.

DEAR ABBY: I am a foster mother to four children of different races. One is African-American, two are Hispanic and one is Caucasian. My husband and I are Caucasian, and we have two children of our own.

Abby, my kids may have different colors and origins, but they are all our very own. They have chores, go to school and are responsible kids. We love them dearly and would move a mountain one pebble at a time for each one if needed.

When I am out and about with all six kids, I get nasty looks and nastier comments about them. I am tired of people looking down on me for our "weird" family. One person even suggested that I get my tubes tied and stop sleeping around!

Do I ignore these comments? I refuse to tell people that they are foster kids. They have been hurt enough and do not need to be reminded about their parents living elsewhere. Please help me before the comments reach the ears of my precious kids. -- FOSTER MOM AMANDA

DEAR AMANDA: People tend to look at anything that is "different." A rainbow coalition of children is bound to draw a second look, and by now you should know it comes with the territory. That does not, however, justify the rude personal attack you received from the one person. And in my opinion you should have shamed him or her by responding that you are a foster parent, because it happens to be the truth.

DEAR ABBY: When women are being married, they usually start showing off their engagement/wedding ring(s). I have very selective taste, and I find many of them to be gaudy or downright ugly. What am I supposed to say when these women are expecting me to tell them, "How lovely"? -- UNENTHUSED IN ERIE, PA.

DEAR UNENTHUSED: Try this: "Oh! Look at how it sparkles! You must be thrilled!" Then look the B-2-B in the eye and give her a warm smile.

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