DEAR ABBY: My husband is an American, but I was born in the Philippines. Wilbur is 51 and I am 36. We've been married for eight years, and he adopted my two children. (I was a widow.)
Yesterday I got a telephone call from a woman who said, "Hello, my name is Mary Elizabeth " and her last name was the same as mine, so I said, "Oh, you must be related to Wilbur." She said, "Yes, he's my husband."I was so shocked I could hardly speak, then I told her that Wilbur was also my husband. She was very surprised and said she hadn't seen him in many years, but she wanted a divorce so she could marry someone else.
Abby, Wilbur never mentioned that he was married before. Anyway, I took her number to give to Wilbur. When he came home, I told him about Mary Elizabeth, and he just laughed and said he had not thought of her for a long time. Then I said, "Maybe you have yet another wife who would like a divorce?" To my surprise, he said, "Yes, I have. Last I heard she was in San Antonio, Texas, but if she doesn't bother me, I won't bother her."
I asked if he had any children. He said, "No, my first wife gave me a vasectomy for a wedding present."
Abby, now I worry about whether our marriage is legal. He's a kind and decent man, owns his own business and has been a fine father to my children. We were married by a Navy chaplain. But are we really married? Please tell me what to do. - VERY WORRIED
DEAR WORRIED: Your husband should see a lawyer. He has at least two marriages that need to be dissolved before he is free to marry you.
DEAR ABBY: Please help settle a family argument. My husband thought "Traci," our 14-year-old daughter, was spending too much time on the telephone, so he gave her a five-minute limit on all telephone calls. I think this is unfair.
I equate Traci's telephone calls with "hanging out," as we did on street corners before we had telephones and lived near enough to walk to our friends' houses. Therefore, my heart is not really into enforcing Dad's five-minute rule - especially since we have "call waiting." Your opinion, please. - TRACI'S MOM
DEAR MOM: First, some pertinent unanswered questions: How are Traci's grades? Has she been neglecting anything of importance in order to "hang out" on the telephone?
The telephone to some teenagers is a lifeline, so since you have "call waiting" - and if Traci hasn't been neglecting her homework and chores - imposing a five-minute limit borders on cruel and unusual punishment. I think Dad should lighten up.
DEAR ABBY: Your answer to the woman who asked how to introduce her ex-daughter-in-law, Annie, really angered me.
You said, "Just introduce her as `Annie, my son's former wife."' Why should poor Annie continually be explained as someone's "whatever"? Annie is a person in her own right. She is not an appendage. "My friend, Annie" would have been sufficient.
Your answer puts you in the category of people who think a woman has to belong to some man or she's a nobody.
I work in an airline reservations office. And nothing infuriates me more than when I ask a lady her name and she says, "Mrs. John Smith." I always say, politely, "The airline prefers that you use your own name when traveling."
I have been happily married for many years and am "Mrs. John Smith" only on social occasions that include both of us. If I am alone, I am "Ilene Smith."
Please rethink your answer. - ILENE IN DESOTO, MO.
DEAR ILENE: Lay that pistol down, please. Never have I believed that a woman had to "belong " to some man - or she's a "nobody."
I suggested introducing Annie as "my former daughter-in-law" only as a means of imparting that bit of information to someone who obviously was not aware of it. In introducing strangers to each other, it's sometimes helpful to know more than just the name.
Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)