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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: May I second your excellent recommendation to "Nervous Wreck," whose bull-headed husband refused marriage counseling, was walking all over her, and was teaching her son to do the same?

We had a similar situation at our house. I finally sought counseling alone because my husband not only refused to go with me but also tried to talk me out of it.

Several sessions with a psychiatrist relieved my depression, and at the doctor's suggestion I signed up for a course in assertiveness at a nearby mental health clinic.

Well, Abby, our marriage is on an entirely different footing now. In counseling I was treated as a rational, sensitive person whose feelings are important, and I came to view myself that way.

Because I changed, my family's reactions toward me did, too. They found that I would firmly reject disrespectful attitudes and actions and that I demanded my rights in any situation.

My husband now seems like a different man, and we are both 100 percent happier. As for me, I'm ... NO LONGER A WRECK

DEAR NO LONGER: Thank you for supporting my constant recommendation to "get counseling." To some it may sound like a broken record; to others, a cop-out. Mental health clinics across the nation continue to provide lifesaving support for troubled people at a price everyone can afford to pay. If your marriage is in trouble and your mate refuses counseling -- go alone!

DEAR ABBY: Some people seem to think that just because we have a large family, our yard is a public playground.

At this moment I have 16 kids playing ball in my back yard, and only seven of them are mine. My problem is that the kids aren't allowed to play in other yards because they ruin the grass and fall in the flowers. I really don't mind, but it wouldn't hurt some of the other parents to let the kids play in their yard once in a while.

At night, the kids ask me to turn on my yard lights so they can play after supper. The yelling and the screaming can be heard for blocks.

When, oh when, will I have peace and quiet again? -- MOM WITH PUBLIC PLAYGROUND

DEAR MOM: Too soon. Count your blessings, Mom. You're lucky your children are occupied in a healthy, wholesome sport. You don't have to worry about where they are, what they're doing and with whom. Anybody can raise grass. It takes special people to raise children.

DEAR ABBY: While in church, I saw a woman put a $5 bill in the collection plate and take back $4. Is that considered proper etiquette? -- CURIOUS

DEAR CURIOUS: Why not? God knows she put in $5.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600