Dear Ann Landers:

You goofed big time when you told "Concerned Wife in Nashville" not to be so paranoid about her husband running errands without the children. She said she had no proof "Clyde" was doing anything wrong, but it worried her that whenever he went out, he refused to take the kids along. You told her to lighten up, and asked, "How much trouble can Clyde get into on his way to the grocery store?" Well, I can tell you. Plenty.

My father used to run errands to the hardware store and bakery, and would never take us kids with him because he wanted to flirt with any cutie he might encounter along the way. He would leave the house frequently to call his sweetie-of-the-month from a pay phone a few blocks away. (This was before cell phones were so popular.) How do I know this? Because one day, I spotted him in a phone booth shortly after he had left the house on one of his "errands." I said nothing to my mother, but she eventually found out about his affairs on her own. She didn't divorce him, but their marriage was never the same after that.

So, Ann, "Concerned Wife" does have something to keep her eye on, and you did her no favor when you let Clyde off the hook.

--Daughter of Experience in Dallas

You are so right. My readers clobbered me for my naive response to "Concerned Wife in Nashville." Keep reading for more:

From Rockford, Ill.: When you're wrong, you're really wrong. My ex-husband went shopping a lot, and he always came home with something for me--to prove he was actually shopping. What he was really doing was meeting his girlfriend. I was the perfect wife, or so I thought. Actually, I was the perfect fool.

Houston: My husband didn't run errands like Clyde. He took frequent "fishing trips" and "emergency business trips." I finally zoned in and discovered those trips were with a newly divorced "friend" from church. I'm just sorry it took me so long to wise up.

Windsor, Ontario: That wife in Nashville should trust her intuition. It's as good as a private eye, and a lot cheaper. My husband got away with plenty until it dawned on me that he always took his cell phone when he went to the store on an errand. I followed him one day, and caught him having a quickie in the parking lot of the supermarket in broad daylight. I decided against divorce. Mandated counseling put our marriage back on track, but it took a lot of healing on my part.

Eureka, Calif.: Clyde could easily be having an affair. Thirty minutes is plenty of time. I know, because I did it in less when I was cheating on my husband. I'm now 59 and faithful, and life is much simpler.

Tampa, Fla.: My wife and I exchanged knowing looks at the breakfast table when we read about Clyde and his lengthy "errands." I was a Clyde, and the guilt was killing me. I went for counseling and discovered I was suffering from clinical depression; "medicating" myself with sexual excitement. Counseling worked miracles for me. I hope Clyde sees this and follows through.

Rochester, N.Y.: I should have wised up when my husband began hiding his delivery schedule (he's a truck driver). I tried bleaching my hair blond and losing weight, but finally decided he was the one who had to change. I told him, "Shape up, or you're out the door." He knew I was serious, and has been a straight arrow ever since. Women with husbands who stray should not tolerate the cheating. They need to get tough. I did, and it changed my life.

(c) 1999, Creators Syndicate