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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Three weeks ago, after five years of marriage, my husband and I separated. During our five years together we accomplished many of our dreams. We purchased a home, opened the business he wanted and took our dream vacation. We're not from wealthy families, so we sacrificed to make our dreams come true and put off having children, which we both wanted very much.

I believed that marriage should be a 50/50 proposition, and so did my husband before we got married. Once we were married, it turned out that he thought household chores were the woman's responsibility. For the entire five years of our marriage, we struggled over this issue and argued over the smallest things.

For example, he'd get upset if I didn't pick up his plate after he ate, and I would get upset if he didn't pick it up himself. It bothered him so much he finally confessed there were times when he would eat out before coming home in order to avoid a confrontation.

In our last attempt at compromise, I told him I'd agree to do everything for him if he would support me and let me quit work. (I have a full-time job that is quite demanding.) I told him we could go back in time and live the way people used to live in the 1950s. His response was, "We're in the '90s and women are supposed to work. Look around and see. That's the way it is. Accept it."

So I'm asking you, Abby. Is that how a marriage in the '90s is? Am I wrong to believe that marriage should be 50/50? -- CONFUSED IN LAREDO

DEAR CONFUSED: No marriage is ever strictly 50/50. It is a series of compromises on the part of both parties, so that neither bears the entire burden of household responsibilities, financial obligations and emotional support.

Ideally a couple create their own balance and bolster each other in areas where the other is weak.

Your husband's demand that you bear the entire responsibility for the household chores plus hold a full-time job is chauvinistic. Show him this column and tell him he's the one who needs to look around and see how it is in the '90s.

DEAR ABBY: I am so furious I can hardly see to write this letter. Last week a man I met recently invited me to have dinner with him. We agreed on the day and time. It is now 45 minutes past the time he was supposed to pick me up and he has not called, and by now I don't expect him to.

Abby, I have been stood up by so many men that I am surprised when a planned date actually happens. I'm not talking about men who say, "I'll call you sometime," or "Let's get together sometime." I am referring to those who make a specific date with a specific activity planned. I am too embarrassed to talk to anyone about this; therefore, I don't know if this is normal behavior or not.

My question to you is this: The next time I get stood up, instead of ignoring it, would you suggest I call the man with whom I had the date and tell him that if he wanted to cancel our plans, he should have had the courtesy to call and tell me? -- ON MY WAY TO SEE A MOVIE WITH A GIRLFRIEND

DEAR ON MY WAY: It is extremely rude to make specific plans and then fail to show up, whether it is a date or an activity between friends. A phone call to the person who stood you up would not be out of line. Remind him or her that sometimes the sins of omission are far more cruel than the sins of commission.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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