DEAR ABBY: I married "Raymond" in 2004. I met his son, "Bill," a year before the wedding and have been in a relationship with him ever since. (He's married to one of my friends and has a child with her.)
Raymond supports me financially and provides all the necessities -- house, car, food, clothes, etc. -- without my having to work. But Bill supports me emotionally, and there's more of a "connection."
I have learned that marriages dissolve for one of two reasons: money or sex. The money is there, but Raymond and I haven't been romantic in more than a year.
Am I walking into a ring of fire by keeping the relationship with Bill? Ray says he loves me and cares about me, but only when I ask how he feels about me. With Bill, I don't have to ask -- he says it. -- IN A QUANDARY
DEAR IN A QUANDARY: May I mention a third reason that marriages break up? It's when one spouse discovers that the other has been cheating. If your marriage to Raymond, who has endowed you with all the worldly goods he can, is of any importance to you, tell him that although you're living in style, all of your needs are not being met. Give him a chance to fulfill the rest of them. It doesn't take a clairvoyant to predict that if you don't value what you've got, you will lose it.
DEAR ABBY: It has been a difficult year. The brother of one of my dear friends had a massive stroke and she is now his caretaker. Another friend's 15-year-old son recently committed suicide, and a third friend's 23-year-old daughter is in the late stages of MS. I also have several friends who are dealing with cancer.
I always feel lost about what to say or how to reach out and help. How do I respond in these situations? -- HURTING FOR MY FRIENDS
DEAR HURTING: You don't have to say anything profound in order to be supportive. The way to respond is to do for them what you would hope someone would do for you in similar circumstances. Call your friends regularly and keep them informed about what's going on. Ask how they are doing. If they need to vent, listen. If you have spare time, offer to cook them a meal, do some laundry, or give them a few hours to run errands by keeping their sick relative company. I'm sure it will be appreciated.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old mother of a 1-year-old boy who means the world to me. I was raped two months ago and recently learned that I am pregnant. I am scared to death of telling my mother.
When my son was born, his father left for his tour of duty in Iraq and I moved in with her. She is 57 and has helped me out in every way she can since he was killed on his mission. I love my mother dearly and don't know what I would do without her, but I am at a loss about how to tell her about this pregnancy. Your advice would be appreciated. -- SCARED TO DEATH
DEAR SCARED TO DEATH: Your mother should have been told about the rape when it happened. You should have also informed the police, and received counseling and emergency contraception and medication to prevent an STD. If you haven't seen an OB/GYN, schedule an appointment immediately to ensure that the baby you're carrying will be born healthy.
You also need to tell your mother before your pregnancy becomes obvious, so the two of you can decide whether you can afford to raise another child or if you should place the child for adoption. Please don't wait. The longer you do, the harder the discussion will be.
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.)