DEAR ABBY: My parents divorced 20 years ago. The court approved a mutual agreement that Dad would pay monthly alimony until Mom remarried or one of them died. He has never missed a payment.
I have recently discovered that Mom secretly married her live-in boyfriend 11 years ago, but has continued receiving the alimony without telling my father. Is she committing a crime for which she could be arrested? And is her husband guilty of any wrongdoing?
I am extremely upset over this and want to do something to correct this injustice. It isn't fair. What can I do? -- FURIOUS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
DEAR FURIOUS: Marriage certificates are public records, so get a copy of your mother's and mail it to your father. He needs to stop paying the alimony, and he can sue her in family court for any money she wasn't entitled to. His next move should be to consult an attorney and decide how he wants to handle this.
DEAR ABBY: I apparently have a problem communicating with people. I have had conversations with colleagues, managers, friends -- even my girlfriend -- and have been told my words were too harsh and made them feel defeated. It's at the point where people are afraid before I even open my mouth.
I don't mean to be cruel. I just speak the truth as it comes to me and I don't sugarcoat things. Some folks appreciate my candor, but it's getting in the way of having decent relationships. How do I learn to communicate differently when I'm just being myself? The words flow naturally out of my mouth. Am I a jerk? -- UNVARNISHED IN INGLEWOOD, CALIF.
DEAR UNVARNISHED: You may be grossly insensitive -- or you may have a disorder of some kind. (Forgive my candor.) Because you are having difficulty relating to others and it has become a handicap, you should discuss the problem with a psychologist who can help you to gain the tools for better communication.
DEAR ABBY: My wife has a friend who rides to work with her several times a week. My wife is helping "Libby" through a difficult financial time by taking her. The problem is, Libby wears very strong perfume and appears to bathe in it rather than use it sparingly.
The passenger seatbelt and shoulder harness in my wife's car have become saturated with this smell. I have reached the point that I don't want to ride in her car. My wife complains about it as well.
Would it be rude for my wife to ask Libby to cut back or eliminate the use of the perfume? I say we have that right, but my wife is afraid it wouldn't be polite. Please help. -- HOLDING MY NOSE IN FLORIDA
DEAR HOLDING YOUR NOSE: Many people are allergic to perfumes, and others develop a sensitivity after frequent exposure. It would not be rude for her to tell Libby that the lingering scent of her perfume has made you uncomfortable -- and that she should refrain from wearing it during the commute. (She can apply it at work and ride home with someone else.)
P.S. The car may have to be professionally cleaned and detailed to get rid of (most) of the smell. You have my sympathy.
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