DEAR ABBY: Your response to “Wavering,” whose husband wanted her to accompany him to a swingers’ party, was right on. If she goes, not only will the dynamics of her marriage change forever, she may never regain her self-confidence.

My husband talked me into the same thing in 1978, soon after our first child was born. I knew his first marriage had failed due to boredom, affairs, etc., and I naively thought it would keep him from straying. By the late ’80s, I could no longer handle the lifestyle and the constant worry about AIDS. I finally got strong enough to say, “No more!”

In 2001, one year short of our silver anniversary, I learned my husband had been having affairs throughout our entire relationship, with or without the parties. We have been separated ever since, but only recently has he admitted that he needs help and is finally getting it – too late for us.

Throughout our entire marriage, I never felt good enough because my husband always wanted something more. I didn’t know until I began counseling, after our separation, that there was nothing I could have done to change his behavior or to satisfy him.

I wish I could take back all the swinging. I am so ashamed. I have herpes, but thank God I don’t have AIDS. (By the way, he infected me with herpes before we ever started going to the swingers’ parties.) I was too blind to see the truth.

Please tell “Wavering” NEVER to give in. Due to his sexual addiction, it’s possible that her husband is already cheating. – FOOLED FOR YEARS

Thank you for the powerful testimonial. While some couples argue that swinging opens up new doors of adventure, I see it as slamming the door on what should be a precious, meaningful, mutual demonstration of love between husband and wife.

Regret is the cancer of life. You cannot change the past. I hope you are still in counseling because it will help you to forgive yourself for your mistake.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old girl who feels taken advantage of by my neighbor, “Tammy.”

I baby-sat for her. But when it came time to pay me the $20 she owed me, Tammy said she didn’t have the cash on her and promised to pay me the next day. Well, she never did. Recently Tammy told me she’d pay me for dog sitting. She still owes me that money, too.

I am sick of doing jobs for her without getting anything in return. Am I selfish for not wanting to help Tammy any more? Is it wrong to expect to be paid at the end of the job? Or should I let things slide and think of it as pure generosity? – UNPAID HELP IN KNOXVILLE

No, you should not let it slide. Your neighbor is taking advantage of your youth and inexperience. The next time she asks to hire you, make it clear that until she makes good on the money she owes you, you are not available.

DEAR ABBY: We’ve included our 2 1/2-year-old child’s voice on our answering machine greeting. Recently an attorney advised us against this because of all the weirdos out there.

What is the safest message to put on an answering machine these days? – CONCERNED PARENTS

An adult male voice should say, “Please leave your name, number, the time and date that you called and a brief message, and we will get back to you.”

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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