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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman With a Past Must Fight to Stay in Present

DEAR ABBY: I am a 25-year-old woman with a colorful past. During college, I had flings with about a dozen men while I was in a long-distance relationship with "Michael." I was not mature enough to break up with Michael or to restrain myself, but I have accepted my past mistakes and moved on.

I have been married to "John" for more than two years. We have a monogamous relationship and I take my wedding vows seriously.

We argue all the time, and John throws my past in my face every time we have a dispute -- especially if we are arguing about sex. He says things like, "You sure liked having sex with all those other guys," or, "You must be getting busy with someone else since you're not interested in me tonight." John believes that because I cheated on Michael years ago that I'll cheat, or have cheated, on him, too.

John thinks that until I show remorse for my past, we will never get over it. I am sick of having my past thrown in my face and sick of apologizing for it. (Apparently an apology isn't remorse enough.)

In less than a month, we will be in his sister's wedding, and I don't want to fake a happy marriage.

John will not agree to counseling nor can we afford it. I don't like thinking this, but I feel emotionally abused. Please help. -- THE GHOST OF COLLEGE PAST

DEAR GHOST: Much as we might wish to, none of us can change the past. Mature individuals apologize to those they may have hurt and then incorporate the lessons they have learned into their present behavior.

Punishing you for what happened years ago serves no purpose and could be considered verbal abuse. Unless your husband can overcome his insecurity, bury the past and stop taking potshots at you, your libido will continue to wither and your marriage won't survive.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for two years to the most wonderful woman. However, we have not yet consummated our marriage. She insists on living with her mother. I think it's because of the many terrible things her mother has told her about men and sex.

I am at the end of my rope. I am married, but not married, to the greatest woman on Earth. What do I do? -- UNCONSUMMATED IN KOREA

DEAR UNCONSUMMATED: Talk to the clergyperson who married you. Then talk to a lawyer. From my perspective, the relationship you have described is not only NOT a marriage but also may be grounds for an annulment.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance and I live in New York. Her mother sent my aunt, who lives in California, a bridal shower invitation.

My mother thinks it was a flagrant solicitation for a gift. My aunt can't afford multiple trips from coast-to-coast and will now most likely feel obligated to send a gift.

We say, it's only an invitation. We weren't looking for a gift, and we didn't want to leave anyone out.

Who's right? -- SOON-TO-BE-MARRIED GROOM

DEAR GROOM: Your mother. When a shower invitation is received by someone who realistically isn't expected to attend, the person usually feels he or she is being "soaked" for a gift. (And they're usually right.)

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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