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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I spent the past 11 years in an emotionally and physically abusive on-again, off-again relationship. I finally got out and am very proud of myself for doing it.

I am now deeply in love with an amazing new man. He is everything I prayed for -- the whole deal. There is only one problem: He's married.

I knew he was married, but, Abby, the marriage was phony. The girl used him to become a legal U.S. citizen. She's now back in her home country, apparently "married" and has a family with someone else, but my boyfriend is still married to her.

I don't know the whole legalities, but he still isn't filing for divorce, even though he's constantly telling me he will. I have been with him for almost three years now, and I'm tired of wasting my time. I have never been married, and he married this woman less than a year after meeting her.

He keeps telling me how "full of myself" I am, and/or that I have nothing to worry about. But I'm not getting any younger, and this man is truly my ideal man. I have tried giving him ultimatums, but we get into arguments that last for hours, and we end up in circles all over again. Help! -- ANXIOUS IN ARIZONA

DEAR ANXIOUS: If the life you want includes marriage and children, by now you should realize your "ideal man" is not prepared to give you what you need. He's using the "phony" marriage -- if it even exists -- to avoid making a commitment to you, and talking circles around you (filibustering!) so he can maintain the status quo. I'm pretty sure you already know what you have to do, as painful as it may be in the short term. Do it now so you won't be writing me in another three years with the same problem.

Read more in: Abuse | Love & Dating

DEAR ABBY: I'm having a strong disagreement with my sister regarding responsibility for finding child care.

My wife and I have to go away for a couple of days, and we need someone to watch one of our children for a Friday and Saturday night. I'm taking my older daughter to a travel tournament, and my wife had a previously planned trip out of town that same weekend. I asked my sister to stay with our other daughter and our dogs in our home because I thought it would be nice for them to spend some time together. She vehemently rebuffed me because "it's the mother's responsibility to find someone."

I have never heard of such a thing. I felt like I was transported back to the 1950s. To me, family is family. Why would it matter if my family came and watched my child as opposed to my wife's family? We are not talking right now because of this issue. I think it was rude and just plain archaic. -- BACK IN TIME

DEAR BACK IN TIME: Family is indeed family. Could your sister have been offended that your wife didn't call and ask for that favor? Or does she dislike your wife for some reason? She was not obligated to agree to baby-sit your child, but for the reason you stated, it would have been nice and an opportunity to bond with the girl. From now on, leave your sister out of the baby-sitting equation, unless she volunteers.

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