DEAR ABBY: Every faucet in our house has a slow drip -- the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the upstairs bathroom. My husband "Earl's" response to the kitchen drip is that he wants to replace the entire sink and countertop, so "we'll do it all then." For the one in our bathtub, he says, "We're going to tear all that out anyway and put in a new tub." Earl avidly watches home improvement shows and drags me to home improvement stores to look at the replacements, but never buys anything or follows through with any projects.

I am willing to approve anything that gets the drips stopped, whether it's a faucet replacement or a whole new kitchen. Earl is fully capable of doing the job himself and has all the new tools.

I might add that he takes the same approach to the old truck he's going to fix up, the painting that needs to be done, the porch to be replaced and other projects. He is full of talk, but to myself I refer to him as "the Big Drip." How do I get him to fix the problem? -- DRIPPY'S WIFE

DEAR WIFE: Give your husband a deadline to get the leaks fixed. If he doesn't meet it, then schedule an appointment with a plumber who will. The same goes for the other chores that need to be done. Home improvement is your husband's fantasy, not his hobby, and the sooner you accept that, the better off you'll be.

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DEAR ABBY: I am 16 years old and confused. My friends are always coming to me for advice on their relationships and anything else they need help with. I always give them advice they need. I come right out and say what I need to. But one thing I can't do is give myself advice on what I need.

Could it be that I'm better at helping others than myself? I have always been the one who would do anything for anyone and help whoever needs it. I'm only 16, but I don't feel 16. I feel more like an adult.

I'm mainly helping my mom with her mother (my grandmother) because my grandmother is recovering from a stroke. I love my life, but sometimes I forget that I am only 16. -- CONFOUNDED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR CONFOUNDED: It's easy to forget that you are still a young person with so much responsibility placed on your shoulders. Perhaps you need some respite from taking care of your grandmother so you can just be a teenager once in a while.

Please do not think you are the only advice-giver who can't advise herself. When someone is emotionally involved in a situation, it is almost impossible to be objective. And yet, objectivity -- and compassion -- are the most important qualities necessary when dispensing advice, and you appear to be capable of both.

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DEAR ABBY: My daughter's boyfriend just asked my ex-husband for our daughter's hand in marriage. My mother died several years ago and left me a lovely diamond cocktail ring. I would like to offer the stone to my future son-in-law. Perhaps he would like to have it reset for an engagement ring.

He may not even be intending to give her a diamond ring. He may have something else in mind -- and that's OK. I just need to know if it's proper for me to offer him the ring. -- DIANA IN NEW YORK CITY

DEAR DIANA: There is nothing improper about it. Of course it's all right -- and generous, too. If you are asking for my blessing to offer it, you have it.

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