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DEAR ABBY: I have been married five years and have two children under 3. I grew up in a large Italian-American family; my husband did not. He doesn't understand the closeness I have with my family. To him, "family" is just the four of us.

He doesn't comprehend the need for my family to get together all the time and feels that during holidays it should only be us. When they are just trying to help us out, he thinks my family is overbearing.

My husband travels a lot for work and gets upset if my family shows up to help out while he's away. Any time the topic of family comes up, we have an argument. He doesn't believe in divorce and refuses to go to counseling. It is causing a strain in our marriage, and I don't know what to do. Please help. -- BETWEEN A ROCK AND A FAMILY

DEAR BETWEEN: You obviously married someone with very different values than your own. Your husband's attitude seems unusually controlling. That he would object if your family comes around in his absence is troubling, because it appears he is deliberately trying to isolate you.

That he refuses to get counseling doesn't mean you shouldn't avail yourself of it. It may help you to arrive at a compromise that will satisfy both of you. However, if it doesn't, you may have some important decisions to make about your future, and counseling can help you do that with a clear head. Then, whether or not your husband believes in divorce will be less important than what you think.


DEAR ABBY: I have been taking tap dance lessons for the last five years. It's a class of adults with a broad range of age and experience, which is part of what makes it so much fun. We put on a couple of shows and recitals a year.

I have an issue with a fellow student, and it bothers me to the point that I'm thinking of dropping out. "Marguerite" is a ham. She adds lots of extra flourishes, head snaps, jumps and kicks that aren't in the choreography. She mugs shamelessly for the crowd, and it comes across as more burlesque than tap.

We have spoken to our instructor twice about it, but Marguerite is worse than ever. I hate to quit an activity I love, but I'm embarrassed by Marguerite. It's disheartening to dance the routine as we've been taught, only to be upstaged by this woman's antics. I don't fault her for her stage presence. I do have trouble with her over-the-top hamminess. I just wanted to dance, not compete for the limelight. Am I being petty? -- BROADWAY BABY IN TEXAS

DEAR BROADWAY BABY: I don't think you're being petty. And if others in the class agree with you, get them together and talk to your instructor about it again. Nobody likes being upstaged, and if Marguerite can't be convinced to conform her style to the rest of the troupe, then perhaps you all might be happier if she danced a solo.

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