DEAR ABBY: My husband's teenage son, "Danny," recently came to live with us. His mother has remarried and moved 2,000 miles away. Danny will visit her for a month this summer. Danny is basically a good kid, gets good grades, and appears to be making some nice friends at school and in the neighborhood.
The problem is, he's messy and I'm a perfectionist. I try to ignore the dirty clothes strewn across his bedroom floor, the food wrappers, the wet towels in the tub, etc. Although my husband is talking to Danny about the mess and there has been slight improvement, I was raised differently, Abby. I often find myself getting furiously angry. I am afraid I am going to say or do something I will regret, and I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with Danny.
Can you suggest some ways to channel my anger? Do you have any ideas? -- TINA IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TINA: You've already taken the most important step -- recognizing your anger and what's triggering it. You want to avoid yelling at Danny or breaking things. Some suggestions: Walk away from the cause of your anger. Leave the room, leave the house if necessary, until you have regained control. Write a letter in which you express your feelings. You may never give that letter to Danny -- in fact, you probably shouldn't -- but you will feel 100 percent better once you have gotten it out of your system. Be sure to show your letter to your husband. He should know to what degree Danny's habits are affecting you.
There are other healthy, acceptable ways to express anger. I have incorporated some of them in my booklet, "The Anger in All of Us, and How to Deal With It." It can be ordered by sending a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0477. (Postage is included in the price.)
DEAR ABBY: I am a man who believes in equality, but I seldom find it with the women I date. I work full time, cook, clean, wash clothes, iron, shop, etc. I don't believe there is such a thing as "woman's work." The women I know agree with this philosophy, but have a problem accepting that there is no such thing as "man's work" either.
I believe in equal pay for equal work -- with which my dates agree. But when the concept of sharing expenses is proposed, my idea of "fairness" is not well received. For example, if I buy a woman dinner on Friday night, I believe she should pay for my dinner on Saturday. If I drive one weekend, she should drive the next.
I have been called cheap, biased, and even obscene names. What's a modern man to do? -- PUZZLED IN A SMALL STATE
DEAR PUZZLED: A modern man should take into consideration whether or not the women he's dating have approximately the same income he does. All things being equal, I subscribe to your philosophy. However, it shouldn't be set in concrete as you have stated it. If the lady doesn't take you to dinner, she might reciprocate in another way: cooking dinner for you, taking you to a movie, making a picnic for the beach or a ballgame. I do differ with you on one point, however: Driving alone at night can be dangerous for women. You should provide the transportation.
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