DEAR ABBY: I am trying hard to rebuild my marriage. My husband and I have three young children. Four months ago, I met a man (I’ll call him “Jack”) who made me feel like I haven’t felt in a long time. We have not slept together. We tried several times to stop seeing each other, but unfortunately, my attraction to him was too strong.

This week my husband and I separated. I saw Jack this morning. Before things went too far I told him that I had herpes. Abby, he practically had a heart attack ­- and ended it on the spot!

The thing is, what I said wasn’t true. I just could not think of another way to make him stop being available so I could concentrate on my marriage. I feel like such a coward, and I am heartbroken. Not only do I miss Jack terribly, I also can’t bear the thought that someone who made me feel so happy would just turn his back on me.

Would there be any point in telling him that I lied, or did I do the right – albeit cowardly – thing? – WAVERING IN THE SOUTH

I can see absolutely nothing positive to be gained by approaching Jack again. While I would never recommend lying, yours exposed the man’s truth. If he truly cared about you, he would have stuck by you instead of heading for the exit. Consider yourself lucky to have learned the truth while there was still time to save your marriage.

DEAR ABBY: I am concerned about my younger brother. I’ll call him “Freddy.” Freddy is 18 and very lazy. His girlfriend lives with him at my mother’s house.

Our mom is always cleaning their room. She does all the cooking and sometimes even launders their clothes. Mom tells me everything, and she’s bothered by this. I live with her, too, but I do my share. I pay half the rent.

How can we let them know we are not their housekeepers, but in a nice way? – TOUCHY SUBJECT, LAS VEGAS, N.M.

I, too, am concerned about your brother. It is time your mother realized that by allowing this arrangement, she has done her son no favors.

The girlfriend should not be living in his room rent- free. (Where the heck are her parents?) If she is a student, she should have a part-time job and contribute something — and so should Freddy. If he is old enough to have a live-in companion, he should be mature enough to clean up and do a load of laundry.

Your mother should convene a “family council” meeting and start assigning chores. Until and unless she becomes assertive enough to draw the line, she will continue to be taken advantage of. It’s not about being mean or nasty. It’s about encouraging Freddy to grow up and lessen his dependence upon her.

DEAR ABBY: I am asking this question in all seriousness. While I am using a restroom in a public place, I’m not sure how to respond when someone knocks on the door to see if anyone is there. What’s the appropriate answer? – GOTTA GO IN WALDORF, MD.

The correct response is, “Occupied!”

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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