DEAR ABBY: Seven years ago, while on a business trip to Europe, I went to a bar, got drunk and went back to my hotel with one of the "hostesses." It was a one-night stand, but my wife found out.
I quit drinking with the help of AA and have never had another affair. However, I am a sociable, friendly person, and I like to share laughs and light-hearted conversation with members of both sexes.
Although my wife claims to have forgiven me, she constantly brings up my "fling" and makes it clear that she doesn't trust me to this day, despite my repeated apologies, my desire to make amends and my determination never to do it again. She has made my life a living hell. She has an extremely caustic tongue that she uses at every opportunity to embarrass and humiliate me.
I no longer love her, but her health isn't the best and she hasn't worked for several years. What can I do, Abby? I feel so alone and stuck. -- DESPERATE IN THE U.S.A.
DEAR DESPERATE: Because you are both miserable, do what other couples with troubled marriages do -- get marriage counseling to see if you and your wife can reach an understanding you both can live with. If that doesn't work, however, and she continues to berate and humiliate you, consult a lawyer and go on with your life.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are going to Italy next year and taking our two sons, ages 8 and 12, with us. We have planned and saved for this trip for five years.
When my sister-in-law heard about it, she invited herself along, with her husband and two children who are my sons' ages. Although I love all of them, I don't want to spend my vacation of a lifetime with her. She often pawns her children off on others while she goes and does her own thing. She's a pro at it and has done it to me many times.
How do I approach this without anyone's feelings being hurt? There's no way I can go on this trip with her. I'd rather not go. Help! -- BOUND FOR ITALY
DEAR BOUND: You may be "bound," but were you also gagged when your sister-in-law invited herself and her family along? That's when you should have had the gumption to say no.
The longer you put off telling her, the harder it will be, so tell her NOW. If you don't have the courage to do it alone, you and your husband should do it together. You have every right to go on your dream trip the way you and your husband planned it. His sister can schedule her family's visit to Italy at another time.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have clearly stated more than once that we didn't plan to have children. Recently, however, we realized that we had simply not been ready.
We have decided to try for a baby in the near future. If we are lucky enough to conceive, how will we respond to the inevitable barrage of questions about whether or not the baby was planned? -- TAKING IT BACK IN NEW YORK
DEAR TAKING IT BACK: Just say you changed your mind and the baby not only isn't an accident but is a welcome blessing.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.