DEAR ABBY: I am a 36-year-old married woman. “Vern” and I have been married for 10 years and are childless by choice. We have had our share of problems, but for the most part, I’ve learned to put them in perspective.

Eight months ago, I started flirting with a guy at work. “Jason” is married with two small children. At first the flirtation seemed harmless. The next thing I knew, we were having a hot-and-heavy affair.

I have never been so drawn to any man. I became convinced that feeling this way about Jason meant I was no longer in love with Vern, so I left my husband.

Vern was devastated. I didn’t tell him there was someone else. I said I was unhappy, which was the truth. I got my own place, and the affair continued until Jason’s wife became suspicious. Then Jason started pulling back. He said he was worried about not being able to see his kids.

Finally, Jason told me he thought it would be a good idea for me to go back to Vern. I begged him to change his mind and said I’d be his other woman for as long as it takes. I was so in love. He made me laugh, listened to me, and made me feel special. He was everything my husband wasn’t.

I am now back with Vern. I care for him, but the spark is long gone. He goes out of his way to make things right for me, but he no longer trusts me because he’s heard rumors. I want our marriage to work, but all I do is think about Jason. What should I do? – CONFUSED IN ALASKA

DEAR CONFUSED: While you’re thinking about Jason, please remember that although he was amusing and a good listener, and the chemistry was strong, he was also a liar and a cheater. He may have made you feel special, but when the chips were down, his wife and children were more important to him.

Your husband wasn’t born yesterday. He still loves you. Vern took you back in spite of the rumors. You now have a second chance – but only if you reorganize your priorities. If you want your marriage to work, you and Vern will have to admit that you had issues before you moved out, and seek professional counseling to work on them.

DEAR ABBY: I have known “Jerry” for four years. We met through my ex-boyfriend, “Paul.” We have been dating for about nine months.

Paul and I have a child together; our daughter, “Elise,” just turned 5. My ex and I rarely speak to each other, and when we do, it’s only about Elise.

I love Jerry with all my heart and would never cheat on him. How can I convince him that I am no longer interested in Paul? Whenever we have an argument, he says, “Go back to Paul – maybe he can make you happy.”

Would I be out of line if I told Jerry, “If you don’t like the idea of my talking to my child’s father, there’s the door, and don’t let it hit you on your way out”? We don’t even live together, and he’s trying to control me. How do you think it would be if we started living together – which we have discussed? – ANGRY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR ANGRY: Jerry is insecure. Since you love him, do not give him an ultimatum. Because you share a child with Paul, there will always be contact of some sort. If Jerry is going to build a future with you, he will have to accept that fact. Do not live with him until he is mature enough to do so.

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.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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