DEAR ABBY: I have been married 15 years to a woman I have always placed on a pedestal. I recently learned that when she was single, she had an affair with a married man. I can’t get it out of my head. I’m afraid it will drive me to drink.

Yes, she has been a good wife and mother to our two girls (ages 11 and 13), but I no longer have the respect for her that I once had. We recently got into an argument that escalated into name-calling, and I called her a “slut” because that’s what I feel she is. She dated at least seven or eight other men before we married, and knowing she had sex with a married man, I’m sure I can safely assume that she had sex with the others.

Our sex life is deteriorating. I feel I’m not making love to a “clean” woman, that she is used and dirty laundry. I told her she had cheated me the same as if I paid for a new car and then found out the dealer delivered a used one.

She always claimed to be a good Catholic, and I told her she even ignored her religious teachings, as they teach you to be a virgin for your husband. I won’t leave her because of the children, but I’m afraid I’ll have a hard time staying even though I believe I love her.

Instead of having her on a pedestal, I now have her in the gutter. Please advise me before I go out of my mind. – HURT AND SAD, TRENTON, N.J.

DEAR HURT AND SAD: Hurt and sad? Imagine how SHE feels! Assuming that you are also Catholic, were you a virgin when you married your wife? Surely, the same rule applies to Catholic men as it does to Catholic women. If, after 15 years of solid marriage and two children, this is what your wife gets from the man who promised God he would love, honor and cherish her until death, frankly, I think she deserves better.

Pedestals are cold, drafty places on which to live, and it is unfair and unrealistic to label your wife as either a Madonna or a whore because of a youthful indiscretion. These days, most people fall somewhere in between.

Please, don’t be a “martyr” and “stay because of the children.” Unless you can find it in your heart to forgive (as your religion preaches), give the poor woman a break and go. Name-calling isn’t going to fix this; psychological and religious counseling for you might. Your wife does not deserve the abuse you have heaped upon her, and you need more help than anyone can give you in a letter.

DEAR ABBY: My nephew recently married a widow with two teenage sons. His wife insists that he should have “a child of his own” – but through adoption. She does not intend to have any more children.

My sister has now informed all the members of our family that the adoption fee is $25,000 and that we will be expected to make a donation! I have never seen this matter addressed in your column. Please tell us what to do, and fast. Our family awaits your opinion. – MUDDLED IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR MUDDLED: You have never seen the matter addressed in my column because the premise is so original and outlandish that no one has sent it to me before. It is my opinion that if your nephew and his wife cannot come up with the money to finance the adoption, they should postpone it until they can. (Just what would your sister consider everyone’s “fair share” of this project to be? And if you did buy into this joint venture, does that mean you would have a say in how the child is raised?)

There are too many questions that come to mind, and not enough answers. Tell your sister, “Nice try, though!”

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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