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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: The topic of working couples sharing household duties has been addressed in your column, but I've never seen a letter about retired spouses sharing household duties.

I retired two years before my husband, "Jack," did and became a full-time housewife. Now that Jack is also retired, I'm still expected to cook, clean, shop for groceries and do the chores, while he sleeps late, reads the newspaper and watches TV.

If I leave a basket of clean laundry in the utility room, Jack will retrieve clean socks or underwear one item at a time rather than pick up the basket and carry it upstairs.

My husband has always worked hard and deserves a happy retirement, but I also worked outside the home and I, too, would like to take it a little easier. Any suggestions? -- FRUSTRATED IN MISSOURI

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Jack needs training for retirement, just as he was trained for his job. Retirement experts say that if you're both retired, the division of duties should be about equal. Take a pad and pencil, make an appointment with Jack and agree on a division of duties. If you do the cooking, he should do the cleanup. The bigger jobs should also be shared. Be fair and flexible so that your retirement years may be spent on activities that are fun for both of you.

DEAR ABBY: Some time ago I met a wonderful man. We shared many happy moments together, and I fell in love with him. I have always been there for him when he was sick or needed company, and he has done countless favors for me.

When we met, I lied to him and said I was living with my mom; actually I am living with my ex-boyfriend and his cousin. My ex-boyfriend and I are no longer romantically involved. I needed a place to live, so we became roommates.

My lover recently discovered the truth, and he is furious that I lied. He says I betrayed him. I didn't betray him. I didn't tell him because I was afraid I'd lose him.

Now he refuses to take my calls and doesn't answer my pages. He says he wants more "space." I love him more than life itself. How can I make things the way they were? I don't want to lose him. -- ON THE RUN IN SOUTH DAKOTA

DEAR ON THE RUN: You would have been wiser had you told the truth from the beginning. Write him a letter explaining that you lied because you love him and feared losing him. Give your lover the space he needs. Meanwhile, find another roommate.

DEAR READERS: Maj. Eric Junger of the Department of Defense Military Postal Service has asked me to remind my readers that it is not too early to consider mailing your Christmas cards and packages out of the country. Overseas military mail is especially vulnerable to delays during the holiday rush.

To ensure delivery before Christmas, Space Available and Priority Airlift military mail should be sent by Nov. 22. Military cards, letters and priority parcels should be sent by Dec. 2.

International cards, letters and parcel post should also be mailed by Dec. 2. Mail for Canada should go out no later than Dec. 13.

Keep watching the column for this year's Operation Dear Abby addresses. I plan to publish them in early November.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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