DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife, “Jan,” and I work for the same company. Before I filed for divorce, I secretly began dating her co-worker, “Carol.” After the papers were filed, Jan moved out and, being upset, needed someone to talk to. She chose Carol to confide in.

Carol, not wanting to expose that we were lovers, gave Jan a sympathetic ear. At one point, Jan told Carol that she was her “best friend.” Carol would sometimes call my wife to find out what her plans were on a particular night so our paths wouldn’t cross if she and I were out on a date. Jan unknowingly baby-sat for Carol’s children so we could sneak out.

Carol eventually broke up with me and wants to remain friends with Jan. Jan still does not know about our affair. This seems like the ultimate form of deceit.

Should I tell my ex-wife what really went on — or keep my mouth shut? – TORN BETWEEN TWO EX-LOVERS

Confession is good for the soul. By all means tell your ex the truth. You’ll be doing her a favor. She thinks Carol is her friend instead of the opportunist she really is. A person who will betray you once will think nothing of doing it again. (You should know!)

DEAR ABBY: I am a 47-year-old divorced mother of two boys. My ex split four years ago, and for the past two years I’ve been dating a wonderful man I’ll call Ron.

My 80-year-old mother met Ron early on and says she cannot stand him. She can’t give me a reason, but insults him to his face, which is every bit as insulting to me. I love Ron and want to marry him, but Mother is making it impossible. She constantly makes demeaning remarks about him to my boys.

Ron is urging me to limit the amount of time the kids and I spend with Mother. However, I am an only child and she never lets me forget I’m “all she has.” Abby, I love Ron – and so do my boys – but Mom is making all of us miserable. Help! – CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE IN TEXAS

Now is the time to be strong and nip this in the bud. Tell your mother that you and the boys are no longer all she has. She has Ron, too. She can accept him as the man you love and be part of your “one big happy family,” or she can risk isolating herself by putting him down and trying to control you. The choice is hers.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Gene,” retired 10 years ago. During his long career, he wore a suit and tie every day. Although Gene was never a slave to fashion, he showered and shaved, used a deodorant and put on clean underwear every day.

Since Gene’s retirement, his attention to personal hygiene has deteriorated. He showers, shaves and changes his clothes only once or twice a week. I have to constantly change our bedding and use room freshener on the pillows, sofa cushions, etc.

I have tried presenting myself as a “role model,” telling my husband how good it makes me feel to be clean and start “fresh” every day, hoping he’ll get the message. But he thinks I’m being obsessive. Abby, what should I do? – WANTING A CLEAN GENE IN A LAS VEGAS SUBURB

It’s time to talk to your husband’s doctor. Changes in personal hygiene can be a symptom of serious depression. Your husband’s whole identity may have been tied to his job — and now needs help. He needs a mental and physical evaluation by his doctor. Marriage and individual counseling could also benefit you both. Please don’t wait.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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