Dear Abby: "Steve" and I have been dating for about seven months. I'm head over heels in love with him. I knew the moment we met that he was for me - and I think he feels the same way. I'm 28, he is 38, and we're happy with each other.My question: How do I let go of my anger at his ex-wife? Steve and "Jolene" were married for one year and had a child together. I know Jolene will be around for a lifetime; my problem is learning to deal with her. She's hateful, self-centered and a user. She actually told Steve she married him for his money and only had his child to get more money out of him.

Steve has their 2-year-old daughter, "Lynette," every weekend. Since Mother's Day is on a Sunday, she was with us. Jolene didn't ask to pick up Lynette and spend Mother's Day with her, but she did call to ask what Lynette was getting her for Mother's Day. On Valentine's Day, she asked Steve to send her roses from her daughter. She pulls this kind of stuff all the time, and it drives me crazy. Jolene has a full-time nanny to care for Lynette during the week, and Steve takes care of his daughter every weekend. Jolene has it made.

It breaks my heart that Jolene treats Steve this way. He's a kind, intelligent, gentle, wealthy man, but she manipulates him, and he doesn't know how to say no to this woman. She berates him and tells him he's a terrible father if he wants to spend time with me.

Abby, I know I have Steve, and that should be all that matters. However, it angers me that there are people out there as coldhearted as Jolene. She has a beautiful child, but she sees her daughter only as a way to pry more money out of Steve.

How should I deal with such a selfish, vindictive woman?

- Sick of His Ex-Wife

Dear Sick: Be gracious and above reproach in your dealings with her, and refrain from harping on your ill feelings about her to Steve. To do otherwise will only cause discord. Realize that Jolene will never be a friend, encourage Steve to take his daughter whenever possible, and do your best to create a happy, tension-free environment. You cannot change Jolene, but you can change the way you react to her.

You are not alone. Volumes have been written about dealing with "exes." You'll find them in bookstores and libraries under the classification "Blended or Step-Families." Check some out. You'll be glad you did.

Dear Abby: I saw a prayer in the June issue of Guideposts magazine that you might like to share with your readers, if you agree that it is appropriate and helpful. Many accidents claim victims during the holiday weekends. Please consider printing it.

- Bernice M. Force,

Cairo, N.Y.

Dear Bernice: If the prayer spares even one individual pain and suffering, it's well worth the space in my column.

The Motorist's Prayer

Grant me a ready hand, a watchful eye,

That none may suffer hurt as I pass by.

Thou givest life - I pray no act of mine

May take away or mar that gift of thine.

Teach me to use my car for others' need,

Nor miss, through lack of wit or love of speed,

The beauties of thy world, that thus I may

With joy and courtesy go on my way.

(Contributed to Guideposts magazine by Elizabeth S. Sherrill.)

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

Universal Press Syndicate

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