DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man, "Jerry," who committed a crime years ago. He and a friend participated in several robberies. Jerry was unarmed and no one was hurt, although the victims were traumatized. Jerry was caught, served time in prison and has completely reformed his life. He finished college, was married for many years, is a devoted father to his children and holds an excellent job for which he is respected.
Despite the way Jerry has lived his life, I am having a hard time getting over his past. Although I know he has done everything humanly possible to redeem himself, I can't help wondering what kind of person he is deep down. We are starting to get more serious, and he doesn't know I'm aware of his record. (A mutual friend told me long before Jerry and I began to date.)
I'm concerned that if my children know about what he did, they will never accept him. Although I have never met someone with whom I feel so compatible since my divorce, I wonder if it's worth pursuing. -- TORN OVER HIS PAST
DEAR TORN: Let me help you. Jerry is a man who made a very stupid mistake in his youth and who has paid for it. But it didn't stop him from turning his life around and making a success of himself. Many people would respect that. I know I do.
Because you and Jerry are getting serious, he should have mentioned his past to you. The two of you need to have a heart-to-heart talk. If you are truly worried about the kind of person he is "deep down," this is the way to find out. As for your children -- once you accept him, so will they if you impress upon them how hard he has worked to become the person he is today.
DEAR ABBY: I have been going to a small community building near where I live to sing karaoke. I love going there because no alcohol is served, everyone acts like family, and I can take my kids and grandkids. My husband doesn't go because he has other stress relievers and we have different interests. He knows some of the people there and doesn't mind me going with my best friend.
I love my husband very much. I am not "looking for love." However, last month the DJ's wife was waiting for me and said she didn't appreciate my singing with her husband (she never comes, either) and told me to stop leaving comments on his Facebook page.
I tried to explain that I thought he was my friend, but she wasn't having it. She wanted to start trouble and ruin what happiness we all have. I thought about not going back, but I love the singing.
I haven't done anything wrong or said anything inappropriate. My friends at karaoke want me back, and my husband says I should go. I have been so down about this. There's no other place around where they don't serve alcohol. Please help me. -- INNOCENT AND HURT IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR INNOCENT AND HURT: Although your relationship with the DJ is innocent, it appears he has a troubled marriage. If he doesn't know about the incident with his wife, then you should tell him. The next couple of times you visit the community building to sing, ask your husband to please come with you. And stop leaving messages on the Facebook page.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)