Dear Abby:

I am 19 and a new bride, and very much in love with my husband, "Dennis." We have a beautiful son together and another on the way.

Dennis never likes to stay home. He works until midnight, so he comes home from work and goes straight to sleep. When he wakes up, he calls my best girlfriend and has her come pick him up. Then he is usually out with her until he has to go back to work.

I know Dennis is staying faithful to me, but he never spends any time with me or our son. We live with his mother right now, and I'm always stuck with her. We really don't get along that well.

When I get mad about Dennis leaving, she tells me to "let him run, he's still young." She then proceeds to tell me that if I get angry about it, I'll lose him.

I have tried talking to my friend about this, but she tells me I should stop freaking out. I have no idea what to do now. His mother sticks up for Dennis and babies him. She tells me "everyone" thinks I'm getting angry for no reason. Do you agree?

Unsure in Michigan

No, I don't. Nor do I agree with Dennis's mother that your husband should spend all his free time with your "best friend" because he's "still young" and needs to run. His running days were supposed to be over the day he said "I do."

As it stands, your husband is acting like he's single. Putting the best face on it, regardless of whether there is a sexual affair going on between your girlfriend (some friend!) and your husband, there appears to be an emotional one. His first responsibility should be to you and the babies. You could both benefit from marriage counseling. If he won't agree to it, you must assure that your children are supported -- and that may involve talking to a lawyer.

Dear Abby:

I am a certified operating-room nurse. Our surgeons have recently seen patients in their teens and twenties needing open heart surgery to replace a diseased valve.

Please warn your readers that tongue studs can lead to endocarditis, requiring surgery to replace damaged heart valves, as well as other health problems. Not only do these otherwise healthy young people have to endure this major surgery, but they also face having to take blood thinners for the rest of their lives or having their prosthetic valve replaced every 15 to 20 years.

We will see this documented in medical journals in a few years as the incidence rises, but we can save lives and prevent illness NOW by urging people to remove their tongue jewelry and let their tongues heal. The hole in the tongue provides a pathway for natural organisms in the mouth to find their way to the heart and the rest of the body with devastating results. Wearing tongue jewelry can endanger their health, their future, their very lives.

Karen Murphy, R.N., Morton Plant Hospital, Fla.

Your letter raised eyebrows in my office, including my own, so I called the American Heart Association for more information. They referred me to Gerald Pohost, M.D., at the University of Southern California, who kindly shared the following with me: He agrees that for certain individuals, people with a medical history of rheumatic fever or rheumatic valve disease -- or ANY heart valve disease -- tongue jewelry could, indeed, be dangerous.

I hope my readers will pay attention to these two concerned health-care professionals. At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, it's better to be safe than sorry.

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, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate