Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am writing this for those female readers who wish the men in their lives would share their feelings with them. What I have to say to them is this: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

My husband shares all his feelings and thoughts (mostly negative ones) with me all the time. Every night I am forced to sit for hours listening to him verbalize his thoughts and feelings. He has no time to do yard work or household repairs because he's either too busy thinking and feeling or verbalizing his endless criticisms.

He does hold down a steady (sedentary) job, and some of the ways he gets in touch with his feelings -- through music and poetry -- are positive. However, when I was in a car accident last year and should have been resting and recuperating, my husband "didn't have time" to help with housework because his piano had to be played and his novels had to be read.

When we were first married, we moved to a small rural town hundreds of miles away from our friends and families. It has been hard to make friends in this closed community. Once every few years a family member or friend is willing to come and visit us, but my husband almost always finds a way to alienate our visitors. He will start arguments, tell them what he didn't like about the Christmas presents they gave us, complain about how much money we spend on food while they're at our house, etc.

I'm afraid that soon I'm going to have no one left. I've talked to my husband about this several times, but he doesn't see it as a problem. Help! -- TALKED TO DEATH IN MINNESOTA

DEAR TALKED TO DEATH: I am all for sharing thoughts and feelings, but the person you have described is one who is self-obsessed, verbally abusive, and thinks no one's feelings are as important as his own.

By "sharing his thoughts and feelings," your husband is chipping away at your self-esteem and isolating you from friends and family. It's important that you give this some thought and not allow yourself to be his scapegoat. Also, I hope you have a job outside the home, because it may be your only way to have meaningful contact with others.

DEAR ABBY: I bought my wedding dress two months ago. I showed a picture of it to my sister-in-law who is being married a few weeks before me. Yesterday she went out and purchased the exact same dress. Although she is having a small wedding, my fiance and I are still very upset. She and her fiance insist we are being selfish and inconsiderate of their feelings. Do you think we are wrong to be angry? -- P.O. IN N.J.

DEAR P.O.: No, I do not. You are entitled to your feelings. That said, there is still time for you to return to the shop where you purchased your bridal gown and discuss how to individualize your attire for the wedding. (Consider a different headpiece and veil, adding or deleting gloves or other accessories, adding or subtracting a train.)

And remember, although imitation may be irritating, it's also the sincerest form of flattery. Your sister-in-law is "family," so pleased don't let this cause a permanent rift. And in the future, don't show her any more pictures.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds)

to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111; (816) 932-6600