DEAR ABBY: I am a 31-year-old male who reads your column every day.
I love my wife with all my heart. I believe she is the most beautiful woman in the world. I have told her that since the day we met, seven years ago, and repeat it often both in and out of the bedroom. I make sure other people know how I feel about my wife, as well.
I make great money. I treat my wife to flowers, special gifts, dinners out on Friday and Saturday nights every weekend at the best restaurants. I do the laundry, clean the house, take care of the kids and pay every bill in the house -- hers and mine -- while working 65 hours a week with no more than four hours of sleep a night.
My problem is, I do not feel appreciated. She always wants more. Please don't tell me to discuss my feelings with her, because I have. We just end up arguing because she thinks I'm belittling her for wanting to hear "thank you" and especially "I love you."
We rarely make love. I make sure that when we do, it is memorable for her. That's more important to me than my own fulfillment. My excitement is pleasing her.
I hope you, Abby, of all people, understand that men have feelings. We want to be loved and appreciated, too. -- UNAPPRECIATED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: Of course men have feelings and the need to hear "I love you." However, I'm sad to say you have a one-sided marriage.
Since you have already discussed your feelings with your wife, perhaps it's time to stop doing so many things for her. She might be more appreciative of your efforts if some of the responsibility were placed back on her shoulders.
Even though you love your wife with all your heart, it seems that when you are talking, neither of you is hearing what the other is really saying. You both could benefit from marriage counseling, which may improve your level of communication. Try it, and let me know the results.
DEAR ABBY: I was pleased to read in your column about men who behave like gentlemen. May I share my "gentleman" story?
When I leave his house, he always walks me out to the car. He opens the car door for me and then gently hands me my seatbelt as a reminder. When we arrive at our destination, he jumps out of the car and races around to open my door for me. And he always places his hand under mine to keep me from falling.
I have heard women ask their escorts, boyfriends and husbands why they can't be more like him. They smile at my gentleman and tell him they wish they were with him.
My gentleman is my 10-year-old grandson, who is as rough-and-tumble as they come. Although I have four other grandsons, Mark is the most conscientious about practicing good manners.
Thank you for allowing me to brag about my gentleman. -- JUANITA SHARP, SIMPSONVILLE, S.C.
DEAR JUANITA: I'm pleased to print your letter. Children who practice good manners should always be praised for it -- and so should their parents. Mark sounds like a terrific young man.
CONFIDENTIAL TO MY ASIAN READERS: It's the Year of the Dragon, and I'd take to take this opportunity to wish you a happy and prosperous New Year. So: "Gung Hay Fat Choy, "Kung Hsi Fa Tsai," "Kung Ho Hsin Hsi, "Hsin Nien Kuai Le," "San Ni Fei Lo" and "Chuc Mung Nam Moi."
Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600