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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I just finished the letter from "Living Single in Des Moines," the bride of three months who still lives apart from her husband because he refused to get rid of the "filth and clutter" so she could move in.

My husband was also a farmer. I was a city gal. For the first five years of our marriage he lived in the farmhouse, and I lived in town 50 miles away. We finally built a house in a town near him. He had a difficult time deciding to go ahead with the construction. During the construction, he wanted to quit and leave the house unfinished. My college-age son and I completed the inside of the house.

My husband delayed moving in as long as possible. He was never happy there and constantly harped on selling it, which we finally did. I moved back to the city. He returned to his old farmhouse, which is filthy and filled with clutter, rodents and bugs. He has a space heater in one room for the entire house and the water is contaminated, but this is where he wants to be.

I spent countless hours trying to clean up the farmhouse, but he didn't like it that way.

If I had been smart, I would have gotten an annulment right away as you suggested to the bride, because this type of man does not change. That poor woman is setting herself up for years of heartache. -- KNOWS BETTER NOW (ALSO FROM IOWA)

DEAR KNOWS BETTER NOW: When I advised the disillusioned bride to talk to an attorney about an annulment, I thought I might catch some flak from readers. Interestingly, not one of the many people who commented on that letter disagreed with my answer. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Good for you! You told "Living Single" to get an annulment after marrying a man who reneged on his promise to clean up his cluttered, dirty home so they could live together. You are so right. She should run to the nearest lawyer.

I am on my second marriage -- now 10 years in duration -- to a junkaholic. My first husband encouraged me to take a job in a distant city, but when he saw that the apartment I found was large enough for our family but not for his broken lawn furniture, flat-tired bicycles and rusting tools, he made a U-turn on the next plane home and divorced me.

The man who became my second husband seemed much more intelligent and reasonable (he is much more successful than my first). I thought he'd surely see that the relocations involved in getting promoted in his field would be much more work if we hauled around every piece of paper, every warped record, every broken chair he had in college. I was wrong.

If "Des Moines" finds the clutter jarring now, wait tilL it has a few years to marinate. A guy who does nothing about the mess now never will. And time ensures it will only get worse.

I probably should get counseling to find out why I keep marrying men who would be happier living in a Dumpster, but I won't. I'm too tired to remarry. I hope that poor woman takes your advice. -- BURIED IN WEST PALM BEACH

DEAR BURIED: So do I. While help is available for obsessive-compulsive disorders, the first and most obvious step in resolving a problem is admitting there is one and seeking help. Since living with his bride of three months isn't incentive enough for the man, I see little, if any, happiness ahead for her with him.

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