DEAR ABBY: "Andrew" and I have been dating for about five years. We met just out of high school, when we were both young and still finding ourselves. But I have noticed that over the years, as we have grown and established our identities, we have become complete opposites.
First, our religious beliefs: Andrew and I were both raised Catholic. He hasn't practiced in years. When we met, I was going through a stage where I wasn't really practicing my religion either. But as I continued through college, I realized I needed religion back in my life and began going to church. I am now active in the church, and my religious and spiritual beliefs are important to me. Andrew, on the other hand, has no desire to go back and even says he has become an atheist.
Then there's our families: Andrew's family is very free-spirited. Not only are they opinionated and outspoken, they curse and talk about everything and anything. In contrast, my family is very reserved, well-mannered and gentle. We even pray before meals. Needless to say, our families do not mesh well and have had little contact.
I like chocolate; Andrew likes vanilla. I like merry-go-rounds; he likes roller-coasters. I like winter; he likes summer. I'm a worrier; he's carefree. I'm early; he's late. You name it -- we're opposites. It may have made for an exciting relationship when we were younger, but now that we're talking marriage and children, I don't see how this will work. Our core values are too different. I really do care for Andrew, and we have fun together, but is there any hope for the future? -- POLAR OPPOSITES, CHADDS FORD, PA.
DEAR POLAR OPPOSITES: Not with the negative mind-set you have displayed in your letter. Not once did you indicate that you are willing to fight for a future with this man. Unless you can figure out what you still have in common, I see little hope for a future with Andrew. The last thing either of you needs is to march down the aisle to the strains of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."
DEAR ABBY: I am at my wit's end with my husband, and I don't know what to do. It seems like lately he is finding fault with my kids over stupid stuff -- especially my soon-to-be 13-year-old son.
Mind you, my husband is not abusive -- but lately, every time my son forgets to do something, he threatens that he is going to kill him, yells that he's no longer my son's father until he straightens up, and on one occasion, he slammed my son into a wall.
I'm scared to death. I don't want my kids hurt (I have a 9-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter as well), and I love my husband dearly, but I can't take this much longer. He has never acted this way before. So what could be the problem? -- TRYING TO UNDERSTAND IN MICHIGAN
DEAR TRYING TO UNDERSTAND: Your husband may be depressed, using drugs, stressed out at work or mentally ill. I don't blame you for being seriously concerned, because whatever the cause, he is losing control. You say he "isn't abusive," and yet the incidents you have described concerning your 13-year-old are examples of verbal and physical abuse.
The best advice I can offer you is to get your husband to a doctor for a thorough examination -- and a referral to a psychotherapist for evaluation. Because his change in behavior is recent, he could be in trouble.
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