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Dear Abby 5/4

Wife feels trapped amidst family fight for affection

DEAR ABBY: I love my husband of 13 years and our 6-year-old son. They both love me. The problem is, the two of them cannot get along when I'm around. They constantly fight over me. Don't get me wrong, I have loved all the attention I have been getting these last few years, but the jealousy is getting old.
    Abby, they fight as if they are siblings. I feel like I am raising two sons instead of having a happy home life. I never tell either one that I love him more than the other. Should I tell my husband that I love him more in front of our son? After all, one day my son will leave home. Would that hurt my son's feelings? Would that help in the conflict? What should I say or do? -- DIVIDED HEART, DECATUR, ILL.
    DEAR DIVIDED: Regardless of how much you "loved the attention," you should have nipped this in the bud when it started years ago. It's time for a frank conversation with your husband, telling him in no uncertain terms that it's time for him to grow up and stop acting like a 6-year-old. You are his wife, and the love you feel for him is that of a woman for a man, not that of a mother for her child.
    Under no circumstances should you tell your husband in front of your son that you love him "more." Your son does not need to hear that. What he does need to hear is that he is your firstborn child, and because of that he will always occupy a special place in your heart. To say anything else would only cause the rivalry to escalate.
    If my advice doesn't resolve this issue, then it's time to call a licensed psychotherapist and schedule some family counseling. Please don't put it off. What's happening in your household is unhealthy for all concerned.

    DEAR ABBY: Long story short, my husband of 11 years and I were having serious marital problems and on the verge of divorce. At the same time, my sister moved in with us — at my invitation. Apparently, one thing led to another, and she and my husband say they have fallen in love.
    My husband and I decided to try and save our marriage. Then, two days later, he and my sister slept together! I kicked both of them out of my house. They think they did nothing wrong because, according to my husband, he has no intention of working anything out with me. I say he's an S.O.B., and my sister is a @#!%#. Am I wrong?
    Everyone in my family agrees with me, and I am being painted by my sister and my husband as "turning everyone against her." I say I'm justified.
    What makes it harder is I still love them both and have now lost my sister and my best friend, and I don't know what to do. -- BROKENHEARTED IN PORTLAND, ORE.
    DEAR BROKENHEARTED: You say your marriage was on the verge of collapse, and your husband had no intention of working anything out with you. You invited your sister in and put her in the middle. It was a recipe for disaster.
    While your anger and disappointment are understandable, you must now decide how long you intend to let them rule your life. If you nurture them, it will poison your soul and leave you bitter.
    I have a possible solution. You say you still love them both; then why not forgive them? It will free you to go on with your own life — and they deserve each other.

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