DEAR ABBY: My husband of 20 years has blindsided me by announcing he's leaving. Come to find out he's "in love" with a co-worker and thinks they are soul mates. Our close friends and family know about the affair (and are dismayed), but our teenaged kids don't. He told them we simply grew apart.
His suddenly leaving with no attempt to work on the marriage sends a confusing message. Is it best the kids don't know about her, or will it hurt them more if they find out later? How do I talk to them about the commitment of marriage without criticizing him, and does that include protecting his lie? -- CONFUSED IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CONFUSED: Your children are teenagers. Teenagers today are very wise in the ways of the world. They are also observant; when they visit their father at his place, they will draw their own conclusions.
As to talking to them about the commitment of marriage, refrain from doing it when you are emotional, and leave out any reference to their father and his "soul mate" unless they bring it up. You have my sympathy.
DEAR ABBY: I'm talking with a guy who's in prison. He has eight months before he gets out. Do you think it's wrong for me to keep talking with him? Is it wrong to date someone in prison? I go visit him. He wants to marry me when he gets out. He talks about how God has changed his life since he's been in prison. -- WONDERING IN THE EAST
DEAR WONDERING: While it is possible to write to, talk to and visit someone who is in prison, it is not possible to "date" someone who is locked behind bars. While it is not wrong to talk to him, please understand that when he is released, his circumstances will be different.
Rather than talking about marriage at this point, he should be thinking about how he will find a job and reintegrate himself into the real world. You should not jump into a lifetime commitment with him until he has done that. God may have changed his life while he has been in prison, but that doesn't mean the task is done. He will have to continue to work on changing his life himself.
DEAR ABBY: Every year in my neighborhood, "lost dog" signs appear the day after the Fourth of July. Would you please print a reminder to dog owners that noise from fireworks can cause pets to become so frightened they bolt from home and become lost. Keep your pets inside anytime you can hear fireworks.
On the Fourth, which is noisy all day, when my dogs have to go out, I go out with them (even though I have a fenced yard). I want to be able to see them every second. Better safe than sorry. -- PET LOVER IN BARNHART, MISSOURI
DEAR PET LOVER: I'm sure my readers will be grateful for your timely reminder. And while we're on the subject of lost pets, this would be a good time to ensure that your dog (or cat) is properly identified with a microchip or ID tag in case it does manage to get away from you.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)