Dear Abby: My sister-in-law is a wonderful woman who has a severe weight problem. She's 50 years old and has no bad habits except for eating. She refuses to discuss diets and gets very upset when the subject is broached. She's beginning to experience signs of deteriorating health - shortness of breath, chest tightness, extreme redness in her face when she's warm or upset, and she has painful back and knee problems. She has fallen downstairs because she was unable to see the steps.

Abby, she refuses to see a doctor, my brother tells me, because she knows a doctor will confront her about her weight. I suggested she should at least have her blood pressure taken at the local pharmacy. She ignores me.I believe she needs psychological care. I can't bear to lose her, and I fear that she will die soon if she doesn't try to help herself.

- Scared for My Sister-In-Law,

in Milwaukee

Dear Scared: Although some people use food the way junkies and alcoholics use drugs and alcohol, I know of no intervention program for people with life-threatening weight problems. Indeed, she may need psychological help in order to win her battle. However, unless she is willing to admit that she has a problem and takes steps to overcome it, there is nothing you or anyone else can do for her. She has my deepest sympathy.

Dear Abby: You asked for readers'input for the woman who had told her husband she had shared a bed with a male friend without "anything happening." Her husband, influenced by some buddies, didn't believe her.

I could write about the early American custom of "bundling," or point out that in many cultures families and guests share sleeping accommodations - but that's really irrelevant to the main problem. Namely, the woman's husband believes his buddies and doubts his wife. I'd say THAT is a very serious problem.

This husband is judging something that happened not only before their marriage, but before they were even introduced. I can't help but wonder why the husband even told that story to his buddies, but the real question here is whom should he believe - his wife or his buddies?

That woman's position should be: "Believe me, or call me a liar. If you believe me, then we need to see a marriage counselor about why you didn't trust me. And if you think I'm a liar, then we need to see a divorce lawyer."

- A Male Reader

From Oxnard, Calif.

Dear Male Reader: Thank you for taking the time to share a masculine point of view. It reminds me of a quotation I've known for many years: "A woman's virtue is like a fine painting. Once it's questioned, it's never quite the same."

Dear Abby: I think you should know how influential your column is.

I read the personals ads in magazines on a regular basis. Until recently, I'd spot an ad placed by a single woman who likes to fish only on rare occasions. Since the recent letter you printed suggesting that fishing might be a great way to meet an eligible man, almost every woman in the singles listings I've read has suddenly become a "fisherman."

I hope I get the chance to meet some of these "anglers" while I'm out fishing this year!

- Bill Glatfelter,

Manchester, N.H.

Dear Bill: If you're eligible, I hope so, too. A successful advertisement of any kind needs a "hook" - and something tells me the bait and tackle shops will be busy this spring. Although not everyone will catch a trophy, I'm hoping a good time will be had in the attempt.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

1997 Universal Press Syndicate

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All of the Dear Abby columns for the past several years are available online. Search for "DEAR ABBY" in the Lifestyle section and the Deseret News archives.