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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 57. Two years ago, I married a widower with four grown children. This is my second marriage. We moved to Louisville when my husband accepted a lucrative job here.

My dilemma is his four children. Three of them have spouses. Approximately every six weeks, all seven of them visit for a three-day weekend. Abby, they are wearing me out from cooking (none of the girls cook), picking up after them and doing mounds of laundry. After they leave, it takes me three days to clean up the house and recover.

I love my husband and have told him that I just can't do it anymore. He is upset with me and makes me feel like I am keeping him from his children. I have offered to host Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, which is all I can handle. I'm at the point that I dread the holidays.

I have two children of my own and two grandchildren. I love to see them, but not every six weeks! I visit -- or they visit -- every three to four months, which is enough for me.

Abby, please tell me how to handle the situation without being the "wicked stepmother." -- OVERWHELMED IN KENTUCKY

DEAR OVERWHELMED: It is unfair for your husband to expect you to be cook and housemaid for houseguests that frequently. In order to lighten the burden on you, your husband should agree to hire part-time help during the weekends when his children descend upon you, so you'll have the time and energy to enjoy their company, too.

An alternative might be for you and your husband to visit his children on alternating holidays.

You deserve a break once in a while; consider planning an occasional weekend with friends to coincide with his children's visits.

DEAR ABBY: I am now in my third year of marriage to my husband. We have a daughter who is a year old. Unfortunately, it has become painfully clear that we do not have even one interest in common. My husband could survive to the end of his days with a bed, a computer, a television and a VCR.

I have accepted the fact that this man will never take the world by storm because of his complete lack of ambition. What I can no longer accept is that he has no respect for anyone. He seems to lack a fundamental concern, compassion and respect for other human beings. On top of this, he is sneaky. His work ethic is low, and he categorizes people who enjoy their work as "workaholics who work and one day die." He lacks passion, has no hobbies outside of TV and computers, and could not be less enthused about life.

During the holidays, my mom kills herself to lay out a spread that makes the Ritz pale by comparison, and each year my husband shows up in jeans and a sweatshirt. When I ask him each year to please pack something nice, he gets an attitude. The kicker is that she tries hard each time he is coming to prepare the things he likes. He treats his own mother the same way. She laughs it off and seems to take his lack of manners in stride.

Is there any hope of changing someone who doesn't care what others think of him, or what his actions do in regard to other people's feelings? -- STUMPED IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR STUMPED: Sorry -- you are fighting a losing battle. There is no way to help someone who is not willing to help himself. But if any of my readers have managed to "raise the dead," I'll pass along their input.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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