DEAR ABBY: I am married to a great man, but he's very tight with his money. We found out early in our relationship that we couldn't have a joint account because it caused so much fighting.

We share our bills, but I am broke all the time. I have credit card debt he doesn't know about. (He hates being in debt.) I have had a problem with credit cards before, and he threatened that if it happened again, we are done. How do I tell him I have more credit card debt without losing him?

—SWIMMING IN DEBT

DEAR SWIMMING: Go online and begin researching accredited or certified credit counselors. Make sure the one you choose is affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org). While you're at it, get on the internet and locate the nearest chapter of Debtors Anonymous. It's a 12-step program group for individuals who cannot control their spending. You will find it at www.debtorsanonymous.org.

Because you are compulsive about abusing credit cards, prepare yourself for the fact that you may have to get rid of all of them. And when (not if) you inform your husband about what's been going on, be sure he knows you are WILLING to do that. I wish you luck and recovery.

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DEAR ABBY: My first wife, "Charlene," died eight years ago from an accident caused by her diabetes. Six months after her funeral, I was introduced to a lovely woman and subsequently married her. When I told my former mother-in-law I had started seeing someone, she asked me to cease all contact with her and the rest of the family. I complied with her wish.

Since Charlene's death, I have kept her personal photo album. It contains pictures and memorabilia from when she was a child and teenager. I also have some afghans her grandmother made for her. I would like to return them to her parents, but I'm afraid of the potential pain it could cause.

I considered writing her mother a letter letting her know I have these things and would like to return them. I know there's really no way of easing into this. I'm pretty sure, however, that a mom would like to have her daughter's things. Your advice would be appreciated.

—TREADING LIGHTLY

DEAR TREADING: Because the items belonged to her daughter, box them up and send them to your ex-mother-in-law. And when you do, include a note explaining that you thought she would like to have them. Period.

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DEAR ABBY: I read your column often, and it appears to me that if everyone would just take a few moments to step back and think, "What if someone said/did this to me? How would I feel?" the world would be a smidge kinder. What do you think? Is it that simple, or am I just simple-minded?

—PONDERING IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR PONDERING: You are not simple-minded. You are paraphrasing a variation of the Golden Rule, which is found in the Bible and has been preached from the pulpit since it was written. We need to apply it now more than ever. And yes, it IS just that simple.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.