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Dear Abby: My husband and I have been married 12 years and we have three beautiful children. I have never cheated on my husband, and he is the only man I have ever been with.

"Ben" treats me well and is a good father, but he has always had other women. I knew his reputation before we got married. I fell madly in love with him anyway.When we moved here two years ago, Ben became very friendly with our neighbor, a divorced mother of three. I thought "Dolly" was my friend, too. Then about three months ago, she told me that she and Ben had been having an affair for a year and a half. I was devastated.

When I confronted Ben, he denied it. Right after that, Ben lost his job. Because of the financial strain and the other problems, we separated and Ben moved out of state.

Abby, I thought the separation would be good for me, but I love Ben and our kids miss their father. He says he wants to reconcile and be a good husband - and that as long as I'm married to him, the other women don't count.

What should I do? I am considering transferring my job and moving to be with Ben. Should I try to go on without him? I know he loves me. Do other women let their husbands have affairs and accept it? Could I be missing out on true love?

- Confused in Texas

Dear Confused: The issue is not whether other wives "let" their husbands have affairs; it's that some husbands choose to have affairs. Ben may be selfish and immature, or he may be sexually compulsive, but he can change his behavior if he wants to.

Obviously you still love your husband. But before you drop everything to rejoin him, I urge you to seek counseling until you can make a rational (rather than an emotional) decision. Then, if you decide to go through with the move, do it on the condition that Ben join you in marriage and family counseling. Good luck.

Dear Abby: After all these years of women's lib, I have come to realize that they have a pretty good deal. Women can now go to war and die along with men.

I no longer open doors for women, pay for their meals or offer my seat if they're standing.

Recently, two women had the nerve to ask me to help jump-start their car. They had the cables to do it, but for some unknown reason, they wanted a man to do it for them.

I said, "Do it yourself. You want equality? Well, you got it!"

It's about time we men stopped coddling women. When we do, maybe men will live as long as they do!

- D.W. Hyatt in Houston

Dear D.W.: Don't count on it - not for a long time, anyway. The life expectancy of women continues to be seven years longer than for men, and we show no signs of weakening.

Dear Abby: Regarding the letter in which a reader is constantly quizzed about an unmarried son ("How come `John' isn't married?"):

My stock response works very well. I reply, "Why should he marry and make one woman miserable, when he can remain single and make 10 women happy?"

- Florida Mom

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