DEAR ABBY: I’m an attractive 41-year-old woman with a big problem. I have never had a lasting friendship with another woman. All my close friends have been men. “Jack,” my husband of 21 years, hasn’t been concerned about this until recently.

A year ago, “Jon” began working with me. Jon is witty, charming and great with my children. He is also good- looking, young and single. We have become close friends, and I find myself in intimate conversations with Jon that I can’t have with Jack. We are so alike, it’s like looking in a mirror. We’ve never had sex, and I don’t think Jon wants it either.

I’ve told Jack almost everything about Jon. He says he believes and trusts me. I’m not sure I believe him. Jon and I used to stay after work and talk for hours. I could see it upset Jack because he became withdrawn, so we stopped doing it. Now I try to call Jon when Jack isn’t home. Or when I’m running errands, I drop by Jon’s house. But it feels like I’m cheating, even though I’m not doing anything wrong.

I want Jack and Jon to be friends, but Jack is almost hostile to Jon. I love my husband and my children. I would never do anything to hurt them – but I need Jon and he needs me.

Please don’t tell me to forget Jon, because this is only a friendship. I want both Jon and Jack in my life. – WANTS IT ALL IN CEDAR RAPIDS

It’s time for a reality check, dear lady. Your relationship with Jon has evolved from a friendship into an emotional affair. Don’t blame your husband for reacting the way he has.

Sneaking around will only drive more of a wedge between you and your spouse when the truth comes out. Before you destroy your marriage, find out what happened to the intimacy you once shared with your husband. Only then can you put it back on track.

Hint: A giant step in the right direction would be for you to find another place of employment.

DEAR ABBY: My best friend, “Millie,” is being married for the second time. She has asked me to be her maid of honor again and is planning a wedding even bigger than the first.

I am happy for Millie, but since her first wedding, my situation has changed dramatically. My husband was laid off, and I am now the primary breadwinner for our family of five. We are having a hard time making ends meet.

I cannot afford the financial burden of being in Millie’s wedding. I don’t want her to think I’m making excuses. She has always been there for me. I feel so guilty. What should I say to my friend? – TORN IN TEXAS

Tell her exactly what you have told me. If she is, indeed, your best friend, she will understand. There is no reason to feel “guilty.” Your husband was laid off because of the bad economy – and consequently, your priorities have had to change. That may not be good news for your friend, but it’s reality, and your family is not the only one that has experienced this.

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 wedding 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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