DEAR ABBY: We have been married for nearly a year. It is the second marriage for both of us, so we aren't exactly kids. I feel that my wife's behavior is questionable, but she argues that she is asserting her independence and her right to privacy.

You be the judge: She refuses to wear her wedding ring or use her married name. She has a post office box where she picks up her mail. (I am not allowed to pick it up for her.)She owns another home, but the location is kept secret from me. She will go out for an evening and return in the early hours of the next morning, and if I ask her where she has been, she becomes irate.

I am not entirely stupid, and this pretext of "independence" and "right to privacy" adds up to cheating. I love the woman and want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but now I am wondering if she is playing me for a fool. What do you think? - BLINDED BY LOVE IN FLORIDA

DEAR BLINDED: She could possibly justify her unwillingness to wear a wedding ring, and even refusing to use her married name. Desiring her own post office box is not incriminating, but having a home elsewhere and refusing to disclose its location to her husband is more privacy than a married woman needs.

Also, staying out until the wee hours of morning without explanation is just cause for suspicion.

To answer your question: Yes, she is playing you for a fool, so why don't you stop acting like one?

DEAR ABBY: I am a married woman with two young children from a previous marriage. My children lived with their father and his second wife for three years. We now have joint custody.

I get really upset when my children tell me that their stepmother disciplines them for every little thing.

Abby, I do not let my present husband discipline my children because they are not his, and I feel that my ex-husband should follow the same rule. I have told my ex-husband how I feel, but he ignores me, saying that his wife has his permission to discipline my children as she sees fit.

I keep telling my kids that they don't have to listen to their stepmother. How can I convince this woman to leave my kids alone? - THEIR REAL MOM

DEAR REAL MOM: You are being very unfair to tell your children that they don't have to listen to their stepmother. Children need rules and discipline whether they are in the home of their "real" parents or their stepparents. When you undermine the efforts of your husband's present wife to discipline his children, you confuse them. Their stepmother has every right to discipline those children when they are in her care.

DEAR ABBY: You are right: There is much to be said for leaving bad enough alone. Especially when it comes to correcting typographical errors in the newspaper.

The one that comes to mind went something like this: "Mike Morris, a defective on the police force . . ." Mike demanded a retraction and correction. He got one. It read: "Mike Morris, a detective on the police farce . . ." - WILLIAM J. ROBINSON, TUCSON

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