DEAR ABBY: Two weeks before my wedding, my mother announced that she was leaving my father. Now, two months after my wedding, their divorce papers have been filed.

I am 23 years old and should be able to handle the news, but I cannot. I have been devastated by the end of a marriage that I thought was a good one until only a few months ago.

My mother is now behaving like a college student. She parties all night, dates several guys at once, and calls to tell me about it. I have quit answering my phone when I see it is her.

I don’t answer my father’s calls either. All he does is complain about being lonely and broke, and a single father to my teenage brother.

I don’t want to hear their stories or be their confidante. I need time to mourn the breakup of my parents’ marriage. My own marriage is suffering because of the recent turn of events, and it doesn’t seem fair. What can I do? – NOT-SO-HAPPY NEWLYWED

DEAR NOT SO HAPPY: Please accept my sympathy for the demise of your parents’ marriage. If you were in the dark about the fact that they had been having problems until just before your wedding, it is understandable that you are in shock and grieving. You must also be wondering if what you thought was real was only a mirage.

For the sake of your emotional well-being and to protect your own marriage, I hope you will take the advice I am about to offer. Inform your mother that you cannot/will not be her confidante. Period. Then let your father know that although you feel sympathy for him, you cannot be his trouble dump either, because it’s affecting your marriage. Explain that if he needs a place to “vent” – and I’m sure he does – he should do it with a professional counselor.

You may need counseling yourself, right now, in order to get your own head straight, so please do it now rather than later. Your problem isn’t that your parents’ marriage didn’t make it to the finish line. It’s that they hid their problems so well, you are no longer sure what a healthy marriage looks like

DEAR ABBY: I am a 28-year-old single mother of two, pregnant with my third child. Because of my current circumstances, I have decided the best thing to do is place this child up for adoption. I have a lot of support in this, including my other children.

My problem is with strangers. People I don’t know constantly ask questions about the upcoming birth, including name choices and gender. How do I stop all the questions without going into detail about my plans? I have tried simply saying, “I’m placing the child for adoption,” but then people have the nerve to start questioning my judgment! – PEEVED AND PREGNANT

DEAR PEEVED: The people asking questions about your baby are trying to reach out and be supportive. They have no idea that this is a sensitive subject.

When you are asked about the gender of the child, or what you plan to name it, smile and tell them you don’t know the sex of the baby and no name has been chosen yet. Then either change the subject or walk away. No rule of etiquette demands that you continue a conversation with a stranger.

DEAR ABBY: Please explain the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I have heard it many times, but can’t imagine where it comes from. – CURIOUS IN GEORGIA

DEAR CURIOUS: It probably originated from bitter experience. It is usually uttered when someone has tried to do something for someone else, and instead of being grateful for it, the recipient finds fault or resents it.

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.

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