DEAR ABBY: I'm a 55-year-old guy stranded in a tough marriage situation. My wife has had a serious falling-out with her father. After his wife of more than 50 years passed away, he immediately took up with an old flame and dumped his family in favor of his new lady's family.

My wife now treats me like garbage. Apparently, "all men are dogs," and if she passes away, I "obviously already have a girl lined up to take her place," and, oh yeah, I plan to abandon my children in favor of the new woman's family. I'm being painted with a very broad brush, and it is destroying our relationship.

My wife is angry and bitter all the time, and I feel abandoned. I love her dearly and don't know what to do next, although I am thinking of punching out her father. Any thoughts are appreciated. -- STRANDED IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR STRANDED: Your wife is now an "orphan." She's hurt, angry, and misdirecting her anger at her father onto you. Of course it is unfair to you. She needs counseling NOW, before she compounds her pain by destroying her marriage to you. Be smart and insist upon it.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a fifth-grader, and I'd like to know something important to girls my age. I want to know how to get a guy to be my boyfriend and the steps to getting him. It's hard for me to get a boyfriend.

I know what you're going to say -- I'm too young for boys. But if I am, I would like this information for future reference. I have tried other things. Nothing worked, and basically, you're my last hope. -- PLANNING AHEAD IN BAY CITY, TEXAS

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DEAR PLANNING AHEAD: OK, let's review the basics. Are you neat and clean in your appearance? Are you fun to be around and liked by your classmates of both genders? Do you smile and say hello and show an interest in people?

Basically, the qualities that attract other girls are the same ones that will make boys pay attention. But there's an important point to keep in mind, and it's that while you may be developing an interest in boys, many of them may not be mature enough to have developed an interest in girls yet, so be patient. Focus on your studies, become involved in activities you enjoy, and things will happen naturally.

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