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Dear Abby: I’m a 48-year-old woman. I have known I was gay since I was 14. No one knows because I never acted on it until I met “Bob,” my current common-law husband of 25 years. I fell in love with his sister, “Janelle,” back then. We kissed a few times and fell deeply in love, but because we didn’t want to hurt Bob, we ended what we had.

Bob and I raised my son, who is being married this year. Through all these years my feelings and Janelle’s have never changed. We love each other and want the chance to be together that we were denied back then.

I’ve given Bob 25 faithful years. I love him, but I’m not in love with him. He has a temper and is vindictive. I want out of this relationship to be with his sister. I have asked her to marry me, and she agreed. We don’t want to hurt Bob, but we love each other. Please advise me how to tell my husband I want out and want to be with his sister.

Wants Out Back East

Dear Wants Out: Considering that Bob has a temper and can be vindictive, I suggest you do it in stages. The first is to tell him that you are not happy in the marriage and haven’t been for a long time. Depending upon your talent as an actress for the last quarter-century, he may or may not be surprised.

Then it will be time to tell him that you have known for a long time that you were more attracted to women than to men. Because you can’t predict how he will react, do it in the presence of someone else — but NOT Janelle.

Because there can be legal ramifications regarding a common-law marriage, you should discuss this with a lawyer before telling Bob you want a divorce. Only after you have left him and several months have elapsed should you and his sister let it be known that you plan to have a life together. I say that because vindictive people with nasty tempers can be violent.

Dear Abby: My wife and I are in our 50s and have legal custody of three of our grandchildren, who are between 3 and 8 years old. We have been raising them since birth.

My wife is nearing the end of her battle with cancer. My family — my mother, siblings and son — keep asking me what I’m going to do when my wife passes away. They say they know people who would adopt the children. I don’t wish to be nasty, but I need to let them know that I am able to take care of my grandchildren.

Can you tell me how to tell my family that I can raise my grandchildren without hurting their feelings like they have hurt mine when they mention adoption?

Hurt Grandfather

in Pennsylvania

Dear Hurt: Yes, say: “When you say that to me, it hurts me deeply, so please don’t say it again. I will raise these children just as I always have, and I do not plan to ever turn them over to strangers.” Period. Expressing it this way is not hurtful; it clarifies your feelings.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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