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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married just short of one year and are expecting our first child in about four months. Our marriage is a good one. We communicate well and love each other. There is one area, however, that continues to be problematic.

I have been a youth basketball coach for three years. I was a coach before I met my wife and throughout our courtship. I have coached the same group of players, many of whose parents attribute their higher grades and better teamwork to their participation in the sport.

My wife insists that I quit coaching these 11-year-olds once the baby arrives. Practice takes me away from home two hours, one night a week, and the games are two hours once a week. I don't think that's a lot because I'm home all of the other "free time."

I love my wife and the fact that we will be parents. I don't think I'm asking too much when I tell her I'd like to continue coaching. I get a lot out of the experience and, honestly, I need some time to myself each week. Am I unreasonable or selfish in expecting her to support my coaching? I love her and she loves me -- but I love coaching, too. I think it makes a huge difference in the lives of my team members. -- IN FOUL TROUBLE

DEAR IN TROUBLE: Your wife may be a little insecure about her ability to handle motherhood. She needs you to acknowledge her feelings right now. Four hours of personal time a week may not seem too much to ask for. However, it might be better if you took a short leave of absence until the baby is on a regular schedule.

I sincerely hope you'll return to coaching youth basketball in the future because you are doing a wonderful thing for those boys, and it's something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for two years. His ex-wife interjects herself into situations, such as visiting him in the hospital, and while there, attempts to run the show by questioning staff, etc. This makes me and my husband very uncomfortable.

How should I handle this? -- UNCOMFORTABLE IN KNOXVILLE

DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: The first thing to do is discuss the matter with your husband's physician. Next, bring it to the attention of the nursing supervisor on your husband's floor. Because of privacy issues, your husband's former wife is no longer entitled to the information she is demanding. Nor would she be able to visit your husband if his doctor ordered "No Visitors."

DEAR ABBY: When placing your wedding rings on your finger, which one goes first? Would it be the diamond engagement ring, because it goes closer to the heart, or would it be the band? -- KAREN IN GEORGIA

DEAR KAREN: Here's an easy way to remember: The wedding band goes closest to the heart. The diamond ring goes closest to the wallet.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY IRISH FRIENDS:

May you always have

A sunbeam to warm you

Good luck to charm you

And a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you

Laughter to cheer you

Faithful friends near you

And whenever you pray, heaven to hear you.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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