DEAR ABBY: I'm a 38-year-old man who is in love with a 45-year-old woman. She was married for 20 years and has three children. She was separated for two years before we started dating.
She and her ex are extremely civil, and she spends nights at his house in order to see the children. I support her in this because I don't ever want her to feel like I'm making her choose. Her ex doesn't want her back, nor does she want to reconcile. They are friends.
This morning she had an appointment with a divorce lawyer and came home saying she isn't ready to do it. She's afraid her ex will become vindictive and use the kids as leverage. I told her there are custody arrangements that protect both parents. She says she loves me, but she's worried that it isn't fair for me. I told her relationships aren't always "fair." She expressed that when she's with her kids she misses me and vice-versa.
I don't know what to say or do. I love her, but how do I comfort her? -- STANDING BY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR STANDING BY: Your lady friend may be separated from her husband, but she's not yet ready to move on. Or, the lawyer may have said something that frightened her. You're doing all you can to comfort her. But she may need professional counseling and more time before she's ready to take the next step and end the marriage.
DEAR ABBY: My husband comes from a line of men in his family who don't like to go to the doctor. I can't remember the last time he went for a physical. He puts off going even when he has an ailment.
We have three young children, and I'm genuinely concerned that my husband could one day have a sudden health emergency or a life-threatening illness that could have been prevented if it had been discovered in time. We love him with all our hearts and just want him to get an annual physical to stay healthy and be with us for many, many years to come. PLEASE help him see the importance of regular exams. -- LOVING WIFE IN OHIO
DEAR LOVING WIFE: Let's do it together. There are reasons why men have a shorter life expectancy than women in this country. I'm sad to say that one of them is fear of going to the doctor. Because today is Father's Day, remind your husband that he has a family who loves him and needs him healthy. Remind your husband that if anything should happen to him he would leave all of you not only heartbroken but also likely struggling financially. He needs to understand that the greatest gift he can give all of you would be to schedule an appointment with his physician for a baseline checkup.
DEAR READERS: I offer good wishes not only to fathers everywhere, but also to those caring individuals who donate their time to mentor youngsters whose fathers are absent or deceased.
Many readers have asked me for a prayer in memory of a father who is no longer living. The following prayer is from the Hebrew Union Prayer Book, and is recited on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is also available in my "Keepers" booklet:
IN MEMORY OF A FATHER
"Thy memory, my dear father, fills my soul at this solemn hour. It revives in me thoughts of the love and friendliness which thou didst bestow upon me. The thought of these inspires me to a life of virtue; and when my pilgrimage on earth is ended and I shall arrive at the throne of mercy, may I be worthy of thee in the sight of God and man. May our merciful Father reward thee for the faithfulness and kindness thou has ever shown me; may He grant thee eternal peace. Amen."
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)