DEAR ABBY: I love my husband very much. “Gary” and I have been together for 11 years. However, he seems to be less and less interested in me. We no longer spend time alone together.

Gary works long hours, so it’s rare when we share a meal together. Every night before he comes home from his shift, he stops at the local diner and sits with his friends for an hour or so.

When we DO go out, Gary insists we patronize this same diner, so his buddies can sit and join us.

Recently, my husband had surgery. It has temporarily limited his physical activities. He claims to be in too much pain to do anything – or go anywhere – with me. But if one of his diner buddies invites him to go somewhere, he’s up and out of the house in a heartbeat.

Abby, do I have a legitimate beef? Or should I leave our marriage “as is” and accept it? – LONELY ON LONG ISLAND

You are being isolated. A successful marriage must be worked on by both parties. If you don’t speak up now, you and your husband will continue to drift further apart. So, speak up and tell him that you are concerned about your lack of communication, and offer him the option of marriage counseling.

DEAR ABBY: I am a professional in my mid-20s and have met a great guy over the Internet. I’ll call him Randy. Randy is in the military and stationed in Japan. The two of us have been e-mailing and calling each other daily for the past seven months.

Randy will return home next month and we plan to meet for the first time. Neither of us knows what to tell our parents about our Internet romance. I know for a fact that my mom and dad will not approve of my meeting someone in this fashion. But how else can Randy and I explain the “sudden” seriousness of our relationship? – GENERATION X- ER IN CHICAGO

I see no reason for either of you to be ashamed about how you met. Many people meet via the Internet these days and form successful unions. Granted, no one should make a decision in haste, but the Internet can be a useful tool in getting to know someone.

DEAR ABBY: My mother is struggling with melanoma. Sadly, I have become extremely familiar with the warning signs, which include moles that are unevenly shaped, a mole that’s a different color than the others, or spots that are inflamed or irritated.

Abby, when I see a suspicious spot or mole on a stranger, is it appropriate for me to suggest that he or she be examined by a dermatologist? A young woman sat next to me at a baseball game recently. I wanted to say something to her, but didn’t want to offend her or be intrusive.

The truth is, a simple checkup could save a life. What do you think? – SKIN SLEUTH IN DELAWARE

By all means say something to a stranger if you think it’s necessary. When you do, explain WHY you felt it was important to tell him or her. Suggest the person go for a checkup, but do it privately if possible.

I hope your mother is doing well and has a good outcome.

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 everything you need to know about swedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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