DEAR ABBY: I live in Israel, and for the past five years I've been having an affair with a great guy I'll call Yuri. I married very young to a man who is kind and very Orthodox. I love my children and grandchildren.
Yuri thinks we should leave our spouses and make a fresh start. (I'm not Orthodox and neither is he.) I am afraid if I do, I may lose my children and grandchildren. On the other hand, I can't survive without Yuri.
I have always had lovers since I discovered how Orthodox my husband is -- it's a survival thing. I am going nuts. What should I do? -- IN TURMOIL IN ISRAEL
DEAR IN TURMOIL: Consider VERY carefully what a new life with Yuri will cost you, because it's going to be emotionally expensive. Right now you are part of a community, with standing in that community. If you leave it, all of that will be gone, and you will likely be shunned.
While running away with your lover may seem romantic, I would be very surprised if it didn't spell the end of your relationship with your children and grandchildren. A decision like this should not be taken lightly; it needs to be made rationally. If you are "going nuts," you are not thinking rationally, so please, discuss this with a counselor more familiar with Orthodox custom than I.
DEAR ABBY: My ex sent our children letters from prison. I didn't give them the letters because he was abusive. In one of them he asked our daughter to forgive him and not punish him forever. Abby, her father had abused her, and he's asking for her to stop punishing him? She was going to kill herself because of what he did to her.
My daughter went through several years of intense counseling and still battles depression, so there is no way I'll permit him to have contact with her or my other children. I have had no contact with him since we split up several years ago. My lawyer mailed the divorce papers and that was that. Should I write him a letter and tell him what I think? -- NOWHERE IN TEXAS
DEAR NOWHERE: No, your lawyer should. One of the hallmarks of abusers is that they tend to blame their victims for their actions. The statement in your ex's letter accusing your daughter of "punishing him" with her silence is troubling. She's under no obligation to forgive her abuser.
When he is finally released from prison, one of the conditions may be that he must have no contact with minors. And if by then your children are no longer minors, one can only hope that they have become mature enough to protect themselves emotionally -- and physically, if necessary -- from their father.
DEAR ABBY: I'm 13, and a girl in my grade likes me -- REALLY likes me, but I think I'm too young. All my friends say I should go for it and have her as a girlfriend, but I'm not sure I should. I need professional help. -- NOT QUITE READY IN GEORGIA
DEAR NOT QUITE READY: Determining when a person is "ready" for a romantic relationship isn't something other people can or should decide. If you're not sure you want a girlfriend right now, the fact that she likes you -- REALLY likes you -- isn't as important as what YOU think and YOU feel. You appear to have a good head on your shoulders. Let it be your guide and don't allow your well-meaning friends to push you into anything.
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