DEAR ABBY: I am a 30-year-old divorced male. I suffered from a stroke six months ago and have paralysis on one side of my body. After rehab, I returned home able to walk with a cane.

I have started texting a beautiful divorced woman. She lives next door, and we have been friends for more than six years. I don’t know her age, but she’s at least eight years older than I am. She has been visiting me frequently, and we have recently started holding hands while talking and exchanging hugs and kisses. My family is unaware of this.

Honestly, it has been a while since I have been in a relationship, and I want to pursue this new opportunity. But I don’t know how to do it without causing problems with my family because they might think it is a forbidden relationship due to the big age gap between us. What should I do?

— READY AGAIN IN THE WEST

DEAR READY: At your age, the age difference is not important. Could your worries be based upon some feeling of guilt? If that’s the case, my advice is to live the rest of your life as fully and happily as possible. Your neighbor is an adult; so are you. Let this relationship evolve naturally and see where it leads. And if it leads to something permanent, do not apologize to anyone for wanting to be happy.

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DEAR ABBY: I’m a woman in prison for embezzlement. I was sentenced a year ago. My problem is my fiance. He’s constantly saying that when I am released in 2 1/2 years, we are going to have a serious talk about the reasons why I did the crime. I have told him repeatedly that once I walk out of the prison gates, I won’t want to discuss the reasons that put me here. I just want to put this horrible experience behind me.

I know this has been difficult for him, and he wants answers. How can I get him to understand that I will have paid my debt to society and just want to focus on the future when the time comes for my release?

— IMPRISONED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR IMPRISONED: I have an idea. Discuss your reasons for having committed embezzlement with your fiance NOW, before your sentence is up. He has proved his love by sticking with you, but if he is going to marry you, he deserves some honest answers. Although you may wish to close the gates behind you on this chapter of your life, that you are a convicted felon may have a negative impact when you re-enter the job market after your release, and you should be prepared for it.

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DEAR ABBY: Some time ago, my husband developed a foot condition and was advised by his physician to wear white socks. The condition has subsided, but he insists on wearing white socks as a preventative measure because the condition was painful. Regardless of how he dresses, he wears them, and has been questioned about it when he wears a dark suit. Is it acceptable for him to attempt to prevent a recurrence of an uncomfortable ailment? Or should he follow the protocol of dress?

— PRACTICAL OR FASHIONABLE?

DEAR P OR F: It seems to me that your husband has a solid medical reason for wearing the socks he chooses. Suggest that he buy some SHORT white socks, and when “protocol” requires it, wear dark socks over them. However, if he refuses, then protocol be darned. (Like the socks!)

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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