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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: "Sleep-Deprived in the Midwest" complained that she and her husband quarreled because he would wake her at 3 or 4 in the morning demanding sex, even though she had to get up for work by 7 a.m. If she refused, he would give her the silent treatment. You advised marriage counseling.

I recently divorced a man who had the same habit. I think you missed something in her letter. She mentioned that her husband is unemployed.

My ex was also unemployed for most of our marriage. She's the breadwinner, as was I. I suspect there is a connection between the two. It may be a control issue. I believe my ex's demands for sex at odd hours had a lot to do with his feeling he needed to show me that he was in control in some area of our lives.

"Sleep-Deprived" needs to get that issue addressed before her marriage is affected any further. -- BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, AND GLAD I'M OUT IN N.Y.

DEAR B.T., D.T. AND GLAD: You may be right. However, not everyone viewed the problem as you did. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Instead of complaining, that woman should count her blessings. I have learned to accept my husband for the way he is, and not for what I think he should be. I, too, work a traditional schedule. We have an agreement that works for us. There are times when he will lie down with me until I fall asleep -- then he gets up and reads or works on his hobbies until he is ready for bed. I urge that wife to find a healthy and comfortable compromise. If she does, her marriage will be better for it. -- LARK WITH AN OWL IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR LARK: I agree, the key is compromise.

DEAR ABBY: I'm glad you suggested counseling. I hope it works. My husband and I have been married 10 years. We were both married before to partners who didn't think sex was important.

When one of us is in the mood, the other one doesn't just oblige, but races to the bedroom and lets the romantic one "get us in the mood." Ironically, I am usually the one who wakes my husband at 3 a.m.

A suggestion I might offer to the wife: Why not seduce HIM earlier in the evening, so that by 3 a.m. he's sound asleep and not waking you? -- D.L. IN OREGON

DEAR D.L.: I like the way you think.

DEAR ABBY: Good God, Maude! She should plan on going to bed an hour early! Fix a gourmet snack to eat in bed. Pour two drinks. Drag him into the bedroom and show him the kind of time the two of them had on their honeymoon. After he drops dead from the shock, she can sleep undisturbed forever after. -- BRUCE IN FLORIDA

DEAR BRUCE: Thank you for adding the male perspective.

DEAR ABBY: Many years ago, my spouse also woke me on a regular basis. I adore him, but I need at least 6 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Since these occasions revved my metabolic rate, making sleep afterward impossible, I engaged him in recalling every detail related to President Nixon -- his dog's name, Watergate, his personal habits, his lovely wife, Pat, their daughters and their weddings, etc.

My poor darling was so tired, he slept through the following night. Each time I was awakened, I made sure we talked about Nixon.

For some reason, he almost never wakes me now. It's worth a try. -- A SISTER IN SEATTLE

DEAR SISTER: Water torture would be kinder.

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