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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend and I have been a couple for almost two years and have been living together for two months. We rented a house so it would be "our" home, and neither of us would feel that we had moved in on the other.

At first, we split all the chores. She likes to cook, I like to clean; she did the laundry, I did the yardwork. Now she doesn't do anything at all! I find myself doing all the laundry, cooking, etc., which to tell you the truth, I don't really mind. What I DO mind is her constant complaints about the way I do things.

She implies that I am incompetent, yet she won't lift a finger. In the morning before work, if I am busy doing chores and paying bills, she complains that I'm not spending enough time with her. But when I stop, she only wants to watch TV. When I try to talk to her about it, she yells and storms off.

Is it possible to fall out of love with someone over things like this? Or am I just disillusioned? When I look at her, I don't feel that twinge of excitement anymore. -- EXHAUSTED AND FRUSTRATED

DEAR EXHAUSTED: Yes, it is indeed possible to fall out of love with someone who is lazy, hypercritical and impossible to please. Consider yourself fortunate to have seen this side of your girlfriend before it was too late. Frankly, you deserve better -- so don't look back.

DEAR ABBY: Before I married my husband, I had, shall we say, a "colorful past." None of those encounters gave me much satisfaction. I was up front about it with my husband before we married. He asked how many and I told him.

Last night, I made an off-the-cuff remark that he took the wrong way. He told me later that it reminded him of my past. He felt I was bragging about it and throwing it in his face. He told me that after he learned how experienced I was, he had almost broken up with me.

Abby, I have explained to him repeatedly that the only relationship that has ever given me any pleasure has been with him. I have told him over and over how much I love him and need him. But this hurts. How do I help him get over my past? -- HURTING IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR HURTING: Men who ask the question are often insecure. An emotionally mature man would have respected your privacy and not pushed. The next time he brings up your past, suggest to him that it is healthier and more fruitful to live in the present. Assure him that you love him only and offer to go to counseling together until he has talked it out. The rest is up to him.

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law gave my daughter a beautiful antique desk a few months ago. I was there at the time, and both of us thanked her for the generous gift.

My mother says I was rude for not sending a thank-you card for the gift.

What is the proper etiquette when someone receives a gift and thanks the giver in person? Is an additional written thank-you card called for? -- CONCERNING MANNERS

DEAR CONCERNING: In addition to thanking the giver in person, a handwritten note is the proper way to show gratitude for a gift. It doesn't have to be long and flowery -- only heartfelt. However, the person who receives the gift should write the note -- and that's your daughter, not you.

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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