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Section: relationships, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My ex-husband and I divorced 18 years ago. He told me he no longer loved me and that family life was not for him. He agreed to counseling, but of course, it was a waste of time. The counselor later told me it was obvious that I wanted counseling to save the marriage, but my ex agreed to it only to appease me and intended on getting a divorce once the charade was over. We had been married 14 years and had two children, ages 7 and 5. It was not easy for me. My ex remarried six months after the divorce was final. I married again 10 years later. My 23-year-old daughter recently asked her father why we were divorced. He replied, "Because your mother was having an affair." I am furious with him for telling such a lie. Fortunately, my daughter did not believe him, but it's possible he has repeated that same lie to everyone he knows. I get angry every time I think about it, but don't know if I should confront him. Please, Ann, tell me what to do. -- Innocent in Stamford, Conn.

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Section: work, mental-health, relationships, marriage
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
My husband and I have been married for 20 years. Our children are grown and out of the house. For the last 32 years, I have worked full time without a break. Part of my salary has gone to support my husband's ex-wife and his children. I have never complained. Here's my dilemma. My job is extremely demanding and stressful. We also own two businesses, which my husband runs. I need a life. I want to garden, cook, take some classes, you name it. My husband and I agreed that when I reach age 50 (I am now 48), I would work part time so I could keep contributing to our retirement fund. Ann, we have plenty of money put away for retirement. We have no debts, own our home and have a vacation home as well. I told my husband I want to quit NOW. I am stressed out and exhausted. I spend 10-hour days cooped up in an airless office with tinted windows. He wants me to hang in there because it's "only two more years." I can't bear the thought of it. He says I am being selfish. The bottom line is I am burned out and depressed. Every day, I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into despair. If I quit my job, it might be the end of my marriage, but if I don't quit, it will be the end of me. Do you see a way out? -- Dying Inside in the Midwest

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Section: relationships, behavior, marriage, mental-health
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Two weeks ago, when I came home from the supermarket, I found a note from my husband saying there was too much pressure in his life and he needed to get away. I immediately checked our bedroom and found that all his clothes were gone. A few days later, I learned he already had another apartment and a new phone number, which proved he had been planning his escape for quite some time. I had an awful feeling of betrayal when I realized that the person I had been sleeping next to for so many years would plan to sneak off and leave me without saying a word. The note he left said he would contact me in a few days. It has been nearly a week, and I haven't heard from him. My friends tell me I should phone him and find out exactly what he has in mind, but I don't want to do that. After all, he is the one who left, and I think he should make the first move. Please give me some advice. -- Confused in the Midwest

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Section: manners, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I have a wife and two sons, ages 15 and 12. I love them dearly, but they are so scatterbrained, they drive me nuts. They constantly are losing keys, glasses, hairbrushes and wallets. They put empty peanut butter jars back in the cabinet and containers in the fridge without the tops screwed on. I once found my wife's purse in the freezer. I am one of those people who likes everything in its place. I have started hiding items from my family so I can find them when needed. I used to lend my wife and kids the scissors or Scotch tape, but I would never see those things again. Now, I refuse to let my family use any of my belongings. I'm sure I drive them as crazy as they drive me, but the truth is, they are the ones who need to change. I have pleaded with them to recognize how frustrating their forgetfulness is to me, but they simply laugh and ask, "Where's the TV remote?" (We have at least three, none of which they can locate.) Do you have a solution to this problem? -- Left-Brained in South Carolina

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Section: mental-health, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I suspect my wife of six years is having an affair. She means a great deal to me, and I don't want a divorce. My suspicions are beginning to wreck my personal and professional life, and I don't know what to do. I recently heard of a TV show that investigates and catches cheating spouses on film. I am seriously considering contacting the producers. Do you think my wife and I would be able to reconcile if I had her investigated and caught her on this show? -- Just Asking in the Big D

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Section: manners, relationships
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Your advice to "A Split Opinion in the Midwest" left a lot to be desired. The woman who wrote wanted to keep her maiden name after marriage. Her husband, however, insisted that she take HIS name. You suggested she compromise by using her maiden name professionally and her husband's name socially. I compromised by hyphenating our names when we married. It's made my husband happy, but I feel a tinge of resentment every time I sign my name. Of course, it is too late to change back to my maiden name, because people will assume we are getting a divorce, so I am stuck with my hyphenated name. There are few things in life as personal as one's name. "Split's" fiance should not ask her to do something he would not be willing to do himself. After all, SHE is the one who has to live with her choice, not him. A fiance should make only those decisions regarding HIS name and give his future wife the same privilege. -- Mrs. Been There-Done That

Tags: marriage

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Section: mental-health, children
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
I am planning to marry the love of my life in June. "Phillip" is a terrific guy except when it comes to my 12-year-old daughter, "Beth," who is very sweet but has attention deficit disorder. Phillip does not understand that she needs to be reminded of things over and over. When he asks her to do a chore, he expects her to jump to it immediately. He doesn't realize that Beth is easily distracted and forgets. She isn't being deliberately disobedient. I think Phillip is being too hard on Beth when he says she needs more discipline. I agree that Beth may resent Phillip's presence in my life, but it doesn't help when he yells at her all the time. I love him dearly, but I'm having second thoughts about what marrying him might do to my daughter. Help me make the right choice. -- Unsure in Baltimore

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Section: children, family, marriage, manners
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Many years ago, my daughter asked me to co-sign a loan for a new car. She was young and just starting out, so my wife and I agreed to co-sign. After making only a couple of payments, she defaulted. By then, my wife and I had divorced, and I had remarried. My new wife and I ended up paying $246 a month for almost four years in order to pay off that loan. We did it because we felt it was important to maintain our credit rating, as well as our daughter's. My ex-wife refused to help in any way. Our daughter is now engaged to a fine young man. When we divorced, my ex-wife and I agreed to share the cost of a wedding whenever our daughter decided to marry. Since my ex did not contribute one cent to paying off that auto loan, I do not feel obligated to contribute to a future wedding and have said so. My daughter, with her "good credit rating," just bought a new car and took a nice vacation. She has never offered to pay back one red cent of the money I laid out for her first car. The young man is wonderful and had nothing to do with this mess. I feel uneasy about backing out on the wedding expenses, but I still think I'm justified in doing so. What do you say? -- Still Hurting in Levittown, N.Y.

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Section: relationships, dating, behavior, marriage, family
 
 

Dear Margo,
I am engaged to a wonderful man who treats me like a queen, is considerate and thoughtful, and has excellent manners. He is hardworking and has been there for me through thick and thin. "John" is 28, and I am 27. We have known each other for three years and have lived together for 11 months. My father has never given John a chance. Dad says it is because he didn't ask for permission before our first date, which is a mighty lame excuse. I thought Dad would change his mind when John and I became officially engaged seven months ago, but it hasn't happened. My father is zealous about his religious beliefs and said he will not attend our wedding because John is not "religious enough." Also, Dad looks down on John because he has only a high school education and I have a college degree. Dad says a woman should never marry beneath herself "education wise." Finally, John's job is manual labor -- he drives a moving truck. Dad thinks when John gets older and can no longer do that sort of work, he will become dependent on me. The truth is that John makes a lot of money working for an international company, and his retirement plan is far superior to mine. This situation hurts my mother and me, and it is hard to explain to John. My uncle will be walking me down the aisle. I have cried a bucket of tears over this, and no one has been able to change Dad's mind. Any ideas, Ann? -- Woodbridge, Va.

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Section: children, relationships, sexuality, dating
 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Last New Year's Eve, my 15-year-old daughter had a party for her friends, under my supervision, of course. At midnight, while I was busy passing out soft drinks and food, I turned around to see "John," my 40-year-old boyfriend, kissing one of my daughter's 16-year-old friends. This was no ordinary peck on the cheek. The kiss was on the lips, and John's hands were planted firmly on her behind. The girl's arms were wrapped around his neck. When I confronted Mr. Hot Stuff later that night, he said he'd had too much to drink and didn't know what he was doing. John has apologized at least five times, but I can't seem to get that steamy scene out of my mind. He is a caring, wonderful man with a heart of gold, and we get along very well. As far as I know, he has been 100 percent faithful. Until this happened, I was sure he was Mr. Right. Should I forgive him for this one lapse, or is it a red flag that signifies a major character flaw? I need your advice. -- Unsure in Columbia, Ohio

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"Nobody ever drowned in his own sweat."
-Ann Landers