DEAR ABBY: After 19 years of marriage, my husband left me for a younger woman. I found out later that they had been dating for several years. They moved in together immediately after our separation, and she was pregnant at the divorce hearing. They had a baby boy eight months later.
At every event with my kids, they come together with their son and she steers the conversation to her life, what's going on, etc. I have tried to be silent and civil, but she ruined my daughter's high school graduation by gossiping and giggling behind me and the kids the entire event.
I am trying not to be a bitter ex, but I have had to bite back some nasty words to both of them. Any suggestions on how to deal with a miserably blended family? -- BLENDED FAMILY IN BATON ROUGE, LA.
DEAR "BLENDED" FAMILY: Yes, and please don't think I am without sympathy. The surest way to deal with your miserably blended family is to make a conscious decision to get on with your life. If you're not interested in what the woman has to say, get up and move away. No one says you must listen to her prattle. Develop your own interests and activities, and meet some new friends. The stronger and more independent you become, the better off you'll be. Trust me.
DEAR ABBY: I have been in a relationship with "Anita" for four years. She moved in with me two years ago and our home life has been wonderful. We are a unique couple. We have discussed marriage, but neither of us believes in the tradition.
I'd like to show Anita how much I love her, as well as show others we're in a serious relationship. An engagement ring would be a way to show it. However, the term "engagement" would not be accurate because we do not plan to marry.
Can you suggest another symbol or even another term for a ring to show unity without indicating the eventuality of marriage? -- ROMANTIC IN OHIO
DEAR ROMANTIC: How about calling Anita's ring a commitment ring? Or give her a pendant with a sweet message engraved on the back? Or a wristwatch engraved with, "Love ya 'til the end of time," or "... 'til time runs out." Another way to indicate to others that you're together but don't believe in "tradition" would be to hold a commitment ceremony and invite friends.
DEAR ABBY: There is an issue driving a wedge between my wife and me. I have always believed that my casual shirts (in fact, all my shirts) should be worn tucked into my slacks. My wife feels they should be left out. I think I look better with them tucked in. She feels differently.
Abby, you can save our marriage if you'll let us know who is right. To tuck, or not to tuck -- that is the question. And, by the way, she says I should mention that I have a bodacious waistline, which means I could lose 40 pounds. -- FRIAR "TUCKED" IN LONGMONT, COLO.
DEAR "TUCKED": Your wife is your best friend and she is right. (If you doubt it, consult a men's haberdasher.) By leaving your shirt out, you would appear to be a few pounds thinner. When you tuck it in, your "bodacious" waistline is accentuated by a horizontal line, which makes you appear to be heavier.
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.)