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by Abigail Van Buren

Man of Her Dreams Needs Wake Up Call on Manners

DEAR ABBY: I'm engaged to the man of my dreams. Our wedding is two months away, and I couldn't be more excited about starting my life with "Jeff."

Only one thing bothers me. When the two of us eat alone together, Jeff throws his manners out the window. He kind of eats like a pig. He opens his mouth as wide as it will go and takes as big a bite as he can. Then, as he's chewing (even with his mouth closed) he makes noises. I can't get past the noises!

I know Jeff knows better because he doesn't eat like this when we're out with his parents or having dinner with friends. The first time he did it I thought he was joking. The second time, I thought he was just really hungry. Now I realize this is the way he eats. We have known each other two years, so we have had plenty of time to get acquainted.

How do I tell him his eating behavior gets under my skin? I don't want any children we have to learn these habits. Jeff has a tender heart, and I don't want to hurt his feelings. -- LOOKING ASKANCE IN TEXAS

DEAR LOOKING: You are about two years late in telling your fiance how his eating habits affect you. If you can't discuss something as basic as this, how are you going to discuss the challenging problems that will inevitably arise after the two of you are married?

You said yourself that Jeff knows better. He eats this way in front of you because he thinks you don't mind. So please level with him now -- before the wedding. It won't hurt his feelings; it will set him straight.