Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: When my son "Lyle" told my husband and me that his wife, "Becky," was leaving him and taking their kids where he would not be able to see them, we were shocked. Lyle consulted an attorney, filed for divorce that day, and got a restraining order to keep Becky from running off with the kids.

We begged them to go to counseling. As things progressed, Lyle learned about several of Becky's affairs, her drug use and her chronic lying, and told us every awful, shocking detail. He also made sure our entire family knew about his lying, cheating, conniving wife. As talk began to circulate around our family, my husband told Lyle he knew from the beginning that all the things he had been told about Becky were true.

Well, today my son announced to us that he and Becky are back together! We are stunned. Abby, please warn people who are considering divorce to keep their mouths shut, because spreading dirt helps no one and can cause real problems later. Any advice on how to deal with this mess now? -- WISH WE WERE NEVER TOLD

DEAR WISH: While I'm not a doctor, I am prescribing a healthy dose of collective amnesia for your family. It's the only way you'll be able to look Becky in the eye. Your son was lining up allies when he trashed her. Whether or not what he said about her was true or exaggerated, no one will regard her -- or him -- quite the way they did. What a shame.

DEAR ABBY: My mother-in-law, "Bernice," hasn't spoken to me since her son and I were married four years ago. We got along well prior to the wedding, but because I didn't let her make major decisions in the wedding she stopped speaking to me. I have done everything I can to mend our relationship -- sent her letters of apology, birthday gifts, etc. -- still no response.

My husband is in the middle. I have really had it with Bernice and don't want to try to mend fences with her any longer, but my husband is very close to his mom and wants me to keep trying. What can I do? Please help. -- DAUGHTER-IN-LAW DILEMMA

DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Your husband isn't in the middle. His mother has been trying to push you out in left field for four years, and he is unwilling to put his foot down and stop her.

If you're smart, you will take the high road and continue with the gifts on special occasions. With luck, she'll continue to ignore them and you won't have to tolerate her. A mother-in-law who carries a grudge and thinks her "suggestions" are ironclad is a bona fide burden. Be glad you don't have to suffer her presence, and keep your fingers crossed.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are the parents of three young boys -- ages 11, 8 and 3. My wife often walks around our bedroom and bathroom naked, or topless with lacy underpants. I feel it is inappropriate for her to walk around in this manner and that she should take care to cover up, especially in front of the older boys. What do you think? -- BLUSHING IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.

DEAR BLUSHING: Although families have different standards regarding nudity, I think a touch of modesty is the best policy. If your wife enjoys being nude or topless in the confines of your bedroom and bathroom, she should keep the door shut, and ask that the boys knock and ask permission before entering.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)