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DEAR ABBY: "Kirk" and I have been together for more than three years, and last year he asked me to marry him. We have yet to set a date because we don't want to rush into anything. I am 25; he's 24.

Ninety-five percent of the time, we are happy. He calls out of the blue just to say he loves me. I write him love letters. He blows me kisses from across the room.

My only concern is, we have had two fights that became mildly physical, and I'm afraid of repeating my parents' mistakes. When I was a child, Dad hit Mom more than once. (My brother and I would hide in our rooms and hear her scream for us.) They finally divorced when I was in high school.

My last fight with Kirk was over a pregnancy scare. I had missed a couple of birth control pills, so I got the "morning-after" pill and took it. Kirk refused to believe I had taken it. At the breakfast table, he became furious and smashed the TV remote control.

It's not the first time he's thrown a temper tantrum. When he does, I always cringe. Then he gets over it and I clean up the mess. But this time, I was mad, too, so I smashed my cereal bowl on the floor. Well, it bounced and landed on his head! Blood poured everywhere. He was so frightened he called 911. They wanted to arrest me, but Kirk told them it was an accident.

I didn't mean to hit him, although my mom says maybe I did.

Kirk took all his things with him when he went to the hospital for stitches, then went to stay at his brother's. The next day when I saw him, he hugged me and said, "You have a sick baby to take care of." He said he had been in so much pain he hadn't had time to get mad.

I feel terrible. If he'd done this to me, I would never see him again. (Although once he did hit my head against the car window while he was driving.)

In my heart I know I didn't mean to hurt him, but nobody believes me. I should not have lost my temper. I know if I control myself and don't get mad over petty things, he will also be OK.

If he decides we should keep seeing each other, do you think it will work? -- LOST MY TEMPER IN CHULA VISTA

DEAR LOST: Your mother has spoken with the voice of experience, so pay attention. Young love may be tempestuous, but it is not supposed to leave you black-and-blue or with stitches. There are healthier, more constructive ways to deal with anger.

Unless you and Kirk learn to control your tempers in an adult and civilized fashion, you will repeat your parents' mistakes. As much as you may care for each other, it is vital you both get anger management counseling before you live together again. Please don't wait. Your problems will escalate if you ignore this issue.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:

"If a diplomat says yes, he means maybe.

"If a diplomat says maybe, he means no.

"If a diplomat says no, he ain't no diplomat!" -- Andre Gabor

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

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