DEAR ABBY: My wife thinks it's funny when she hits me. The other day I was splitting some wood and decided to take a break. I began driving golf balls into the field. She came out, grabbed the club out of my hands and whacked me in the leg with it. When I asked her why, she said, "Get back to work!" and started laughing. I was left with a large welt and a big bruise.
Another time she bought some king crab legs for dinner. When I asked her if she was serving anything else with them, she picked up a crab claw and hit me in the forehead with it. She thought it was funny. I ended up in the emergency room with three stitches.
Last night, I was trying to add up our bills on the computer. She walked in and smacked me in the chin with the keyboard. She said I should be able to do the bills on paper like a normal person.
We have been together nine years, married for three. I love her with all my heart, but I'm getting tired of her little "jokes." How can I approach her? I want her to know how I feel, but I'm afraid to offend her or make her angry. -- FRUSTRATED IN OREGON
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Why are you afraid to speak your mind? Are you afraid she'll hit you again? Your wife has a sadistic sense of humor and enjoys seeing you in pain. Unless you draw the line, she will cause you serious injury.
Regardless of how much you love her, for your own safety you should get the heck out of there. What you have described is a form of spousal abuse, and it will escalate. That's why I'm urging you to contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The toll-free number is (800) 799-7233. The counselors there offer guidance to women AND men who are being abused by their spouse or partner.
Another organization, SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone), also assists victims of abuse regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation. Its Web site is www.safe4all.org.
DEAR ABBY: I stole a large sum of money from the company I worked for and was fired. I agreed to work out a repayment plan for all the money I owe.
Although I feel extremely lucky about the outcome, I also feel a great deal of remorse and shame for what I did. My career is probably shot to hell, my former co-workers have lost their trust in me and I can't seem to move forward with my life. I know what I did was wrong, and I am deeply sorry for it.
How do I forgive myself for what happened and get past it? I have contemplated suicide because of the pain and guilt I have experienced and for other problems in my life. -- LOST AND ASHAMED IN CHICAGO
DEAR LOST AND ASHAMED: You are going through what some people euphemistically refer to as "a rough patch." Yes, you have made some poor choices, but you are also doing the best you can to make restitution. Suicide is not the answer. Paying back the money is. Once that's done you will feel much better about yourself.
Frankly, it's time you started being a little kinder to yourself. You have beaten yourself up enough, and the last thing you need in addition is a public flogging. However, if the suicidal thoughts persist, the toll-free number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is (800) 784-2433.
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