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by Abigail Van Buren

Lonely Man Ready to Make Music With Bluegrass Fan

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 21 years, and the past eight or 10 of them haven't been good. I have tried to get my wife to go camping, out to dinner or to bluegrass concerts we both love. I can't convince her to do any of these things with me. But when her sister calls wanting her to go somewhere, she's gone and stays out all day.

About two years ago I started going out alone to clubs that feature bluegrass music on Fridays and Saturdays. I met a wonderful lady at one of them and we have gotten close. I have told her I love her. We have a lot in common, and she cares for me, too. I have not been unfaithful to my wife (yet), but I don't know how much more I can handle. I am lonely and miserable.

Abby, I don't know what to do. Please advise before I do something stupid. I'm an avid reader of your column and I trust your advice. -- TEMPTED DOWN SOUTH

DEAR TEMPTED: Marriage is like a garden. If it isn't tended and fertilized occasionally, it withers. It appears you and your wife stopped communicating not long after your 10th anniversary.

Sneaking around is not the answer to your problem. It's unfair to your wife and to the woman you say you love. So man up and offer your wife the option of intensive marriage counseling -- if you want to save your marriage and your assets, that is. But do not pursue the extramarital relationship until and unless you are free to do so.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful guy for four years, and I'm fortunate to have nice and caring in-laws. My only issue with them is the personal questions they ask -- like how much money people make.

Abby, they know exactly how much their children make, as well as the amount of their son-in-law's salary. Once I'm out of graduate school and settled into my career, I know they will ask me.

I feel my finances are my personal business and no one else's -- especially if my husband and I are living comfortably. How do I handle the situation when my in-laws ask me about my income? I don't want to be rude, but I think it's intrusive and too personal. -- NOT QUOTING FIGURES

DEAR NOT QUOTING: Start now and tell your husband -- if you haven't already -- how you feel about questions about how much people earn. That way he'll be less inclined to "spill" when his parents start pumping him for the information. When they ask you, say that you are not comfortable with that question because you feel it is too personal. Smile when you say it, and remember you are not obligated to answer every question someone asks of you.

DEAR ABBY: I have been estranged from our grandchildren for nine years. One of them is now 18 and we would like to reach out and contact her, but have no idea how to do it. We don't know what caused the estrangement with her parents, but we have never stopped loving our grandchildren. How do you contact someone who isn't in the phone book, is of age and across the country? -- BONNEY JEAN IN HAWAII

DEAR BONNEY: You have written to me for so many years, I feel like I know you. My heart goes out to you in this -- I'm sorry to say -- not uncommon predicament. A way to locate your granddaughter would be to do it via a Google search. I wish you luck.

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.)