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by Abigail Van Buren

North and South Do Battle in Couple's Weather War

DEAR ABBY: I have been married 17 happy years. We were high school sweethearts and are still very much in love. We have only one huge problem, and one day it's going to come to a head. We live in the north with the change of seasons. I love fall and winter sledding, shoveling snow, relaxing by our fireplace, taking walks through fallen leaves, and all the other seasonal activities. I do not care for summer -- the heat, the humidity, summer bugs, etc.

So what's my problem? My husband is the opposite. He gets depressed during the winter and counts the days until summer. He curses the snow on the gray, cold days that are ideal to me. He is 100 percent set on retiring and moving south. When we vacation in Florida, he constantly talks about when we move there.

Abby, I get migraines that worsen in bright sunlight, hate the heat and would miss my family terribly. I have brothers, sisters, nieces and parents whom I see or talk with daily. My husband and I have discussed this several times. Neither of us is willing to budge. We have a beautiful home here in a picture-perfect neighborhood. If all goes as planned, retirement is only 15 years away. We need to settle this. What do we do? -- SNOW QUEEN IN OHIO

DEAR SNOW QUEEN: First of all, don't panic; you have 15 years to resolve this. One of the most unfortunate mistakes some senior citizens have made involved their fantasy about retirement. They sold their homes, left friends and families -- their entire emotional support network -- and moved to a new community to live their dream. Except once they got to the new location it didn't turn out to be as idyllic as they thought it would be.

That's why I urge you and your husband to take that move slowly -- one step at a time. If he wants to move south, when the time comes, consider renting out your "beautiful home in a picture-perfect neighborhood" for a year and renting a place in Florida. That way you can both see what the reality of a retirement in Florida would be. And if it doesn't live up to the fantasy, you'll have a home to return to.

Another possibility: Consider renting a place in Florida for a few weeks during the worst of the winter. Perhaps the promise of an annual winter getaway will make your husband more tolerant of northern weather.

Keep an open mind. There's always the chance you'll both love it -- and your family might enjoy joining the flocks of snowbirds who have relatives with a place to nest when they want to thaw their frozen bones.

DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Cheryl," has a 19-year-old daughter, "Lisa," who is pregnant and unmarried. She has not broken the news to her parents or any family members. Lisa e-mailed my daughter and some of her other friends to announce her pregnancy, and even scheduled an ultrasound.

I feel caught in the middle. My daughter and I think I should tell Cheryl and her husband. My daughter is concerned that someone will let this secret out of the bag, and Cheryl will be hurt and angry with me for not telling her first.

Meanwhile, my husband tells me to keep my trap shut. He feels strongly that Lisa should break the news to her parents herself. I have to make a decision, Abby. This girl is four months along. Please help. -- SUE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR SUE: I'm inclined to agree with your husband. Since you are a close friend, try to persuade Lisa to share her news with her parents since she has already notified her friends -- and offer to be with her for moral support. It may be the assurance she needs.

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-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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