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DEAR ABBY: I dearly love my husband. We've been married 33 years. We have raised three productive citizens, have five beautiful grandchildren and live in the heartland of America.

Like most couples, we've had our ups and downs. My problem is my husband is a slob. He always has been, but it's getting worse.

He works. I stayed home and raised our kids and made the house a home. He brings home the bacon, does the yard work, takes out the trash and fixes things (on his own terms). I pay the bills, clean the house, cook dinner, and do anything else that needs doing (schedule doctor's appointments, etc.).

He thinks that because he doesn't beat me, we have a good marriage. I have a serious issue with his messiness. I am just about ready to chuck him to the door.

I've tried talking to him about it, but we always end up arguing. He says I treat him like a child (well ... truth be told, he's acting like one). I have explained to him why I need him to pick up after himself, but he takes it as a personal affront and storms off. I'm at my wits' end. What can I do to fix this? -- TIDY SPOUSE IN OHIO

DEAR TIDY: To be honest, I'm not sure that at this point you can "fix this." You and your husband have had an unwritten contract for 33 years, in which his job was to bring home the bacon, do yard work, take out the trash and fix things when he gets around to it. Yours was to perform the duties of a traditional housewife by doing all the things you described.

Your husband's sloppiness may be the legacy of a mother who never taught him to keep his room clean, and your own failure to put your foot down during the first years of your marriage. Of course, you could always stop picking up after him. But if you do, I'm afraid the mess will reach proportions you -- not he -- will be unable to tolerate.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce

DEAR ABBY: I am a 50-year-old woman who has just learned that my first boyfriend, "John," was killed in a freak shooting accident shortly after he graduated from our high school more than 30 years ago. He was 18 and I was 16 when we dated. After graduation he moved away to attend college. John was killed when his friend dropped a rifle that discharged.

I have just learned that John's parents are alive and still live in the same home. Should I send some kind of sympathy card to them now? I truly cared for John and thought he had lost interest in me when I didn't hear from him any longer.

My mother says I shouldn't remind his parents of his death, but I think they'd like to know how fondly I remember him. What should I do? -- NEVER KNEW IN GEORGIA

DEAR NEVER KNEW: Write John's parents a short note telling them exactly what you told me. Do not worry about reminding them about their son's death. They are aware of it every single day, and I am sure that knowing you took the time to write will touch their hearts.

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