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by Abigail Van Buren

Birthday Celebration Reveals Marriage Headed for Trouble

DEAR ABBY: I recently turned 40, and because I don't get along with my husband "Ted's" family, I chose to celebrate out of town with my parents and siblings. At the end of my five-day trip, Ted picked me up at the airport and barely greeted me. He waited three days to give me my birthday gift.

When he finally handed me the box, Ted didn't even wait for me to open it. He went off to take a shower. I waited for him to finish, then opened the gift in front of him. Inside was a pair of diamond earrings.

I have never wanted diamond earrings, and I have told him so many times. I had asked Ted for cash so I could buy a new sewing machine. Why diamond earrings?

That night we had a major quarrel, and now I'll never be able to enjoy them. What do I do with them now? -- TICKED OFF IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR TICKED OFF: First, you apologize for being ungracious about the gift your husband gave you for your birthday. Then sit down and try to analyze why you and his family don't get along and why your marriage is in serious trouble -- because it is.

After that, ask your doctor to refer you to a licensed marriage counselor and try to bridge the communication gap that has developed between you and your spouse. At this point, what to do with the diamond earrings is the least of your worries.