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

by Abigail Van Buren

Husband Is Aging Too Well for Worrying Wife to Handle

DEAR ABBY: When I married my husband, "Mason," 30 years ago, I was the only girl he could get. He was a great catch by my standards -- and still is. But back then nobody else wanted him but me, which was fine with me. I don't like competition.

We have had a great life together up until the last 10 years or so. Mason is aging gracefully, and there's something about him now that every woman is suddenly interested in. They all treat him like he's a new toy. They fawn over him and I become invisible.

We don't get out much, and I used to think I wanted to go out more -- but now I just want to stay home and hide my husband inside. The real problem is, Mason loves the attention. It could be what he always wanted. I don't know how to handle this without getting my feelings hurt, pouting and being incredibly jealous. He gives me no reason to think he'll be unfaithful, but I can't help but worry. Help! -- WIFE OF A LATE BLOOMER

DEAR WIFE: Congratulations. You are now a member of a "club" comprised of spouses living in the shadows of actors, politicians, moguls, etc. However, your self-esteem issues could create real problems for you and your husband if you don't learn to deal with them.

You weren't the "only woman Mason could get" -- you're the woman Mason chose to spend his life with. The sooner you accept that, the better off both of you will be. If you can't do it on your own, counseling could help because hiding is not the answer.

DEAR ABBY; My son and daughter-in-law live like pigs. Neither one of them was raised that way. They live in a beautiful home that literally smells like a litter box. I would look the other way or not visit, but now they have four children.

Not only are my grandchildren unkempt and dirty -- dirty clothes, smelly shoes, unwashed hair -- but my son and his wife foist their parenting duties off on their daughter, who's only 10. It's HER job to get her brothers up and bathed, changed, dressed and fed so Mom and Dad can sleep late. The poor girl is exhausted all the time. She doesn't always have the time to brush her own hair/teeth before school. She's often made fun of.

My son sees nothing wrong with these "chores," and I'm afraid to say anything because I know my daughter-in-law will cut me off from the kids. What's sad is my son allows it. Am I crazy? Please help. -- DESPERATE GRANDMA ON THE EAST COAST

DEAR DESPERATE GRANDMA: You're not crazy; you're a caring grandmother who can't stand seeing her grandchildren neglected. Now pick up the phone and call Childhelp. The toll-free number is 800-422-4453. The advocate who answers the call can give you information about agencies that can help, and your confidentiality will be protected.

DEAR ABBY: My father-in-law drops by our house nearly every weekend. He arrives so early that we're usually still in bed. He also rides a motorcycle that sounds like a jet engine and disturbs our neighbors.

I have asked my husband several times to talk to his dad about these early morning visits. He refuses to say anything. We have two kids who are 4 and 9 months. Sleep is something we cherish. What do I do? -- ANNOYED DAUGHTER-IN-LAW IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Because your husband refuses to stand up and explain to his father that he needs to come at a specific time -- like 11 o'clock -- that task now falls to you. Speak up!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)