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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband is a football fanatic. He watches football on Monday nights, Thursday nights and all day Sundays. And it's more than just watching the games. He belongs to two football leagues, one of which he runs.

Leagues mean a draft party, weekly mailings, daily phone calls, faxes and computer entry time. Pepper that with a tri-monthly night out with the boys and miscellaneous sports events, and there is very little time left for us!

We are newlyweds, and this is not what I expected from a husband. He doesn't see this as a problem, and has made it clear that things will not change. He believes that it is I who makes this a problem.

Abby, I don't even want to bring it up (again) because undoubtedly it will mean a fight. I do not expect him to give up football, but I would like him to at least compromise. Am I being unreasonable?

It appears to me that my options are:

1. Let him do his thing and get busy with my own. (I feel like I'm single again.)

2. Complain about it, which is no fun for either of us.

3. Leave him.

What do you think? -- MATELESS IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR MATELESS: If football is taking the lion's share of your husband's time to the point where you feel you're single again, and he refuses to compromise, perhaps immaturity is the problem. If that's the case, and both of you are willing to work at it -- marriage counseling is in order.

If, however, your husband is having trouble deciding which is more important -- you or the football league -- then forgive me an old Abby-ism: Ask yourself, "Would I be better off with him, or without him?" This is not a cop-out. It's the solution to a problem that only you can solve.

DEAR ABBY: I am a dental hygienist with a question that continues to plague me. Why don't patients brush their teeth before they go to the dentist?

I routinely ask patients when they arrive if they need to brush, and often receive replies such as, "That's what I pay you for," or, "I only ate a little something since I brushed -- it won't bother you."

This attitude constantly amazes me because I consider brushing one's teeth prior to a dental appointment the same as taking a bath before seeing one's doctor for a physical.

Abby, this is not unusual. I frequently encounter this situation, and am perplexed as to why patients don't brush. -- TICKED OFF IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR TICKED OFF: They practice poor oral hygiene because they are in a hurry, or they don't enjoy brushing their teeth. It doesn't take a leap of logic to conclude that patients who don't bother to brush their teeth before visiting the dentist's office probably lapse in cleaning their teeth between appointments, too. When you're faced with this problem, I see no reason why you shouldn't ask offenders to please rinse their mouths before you begin.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "LOVES PEOPLE" IN LOUISVILLE: Mae West once said, "I only like two kinds of men: domestic and foreign." You're in good company!

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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