Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Intimacy Issues Cause Rift in Otherwise Happy Marriage

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Ben," a wonderful man, for seven years. We have three children. We get along well, but I have one complaint. It's about sex. I'm always in the mood but he isn't. We both work full-time jobs and take care of the kids and the house.

My best friend tells me I have the sex drive of a male and her husband wishes she was more like me. I am not a nymphomaniac, but I'd like to be intimate with my husband more than every other week. When we're together, I almost feel like it's a chore to him.

Is there something wrong with me? I have never cheated on Ben, nor have I considered it. I feel this is an issue in our marriage, but he thinks I am overreacting. -- WAITING FOR MORE

DEAR WAITING: When a couple has problems in the bedroom, it can affect every aspect of the marriage. You are not "overreacting." By implying that you are, your husband is attempting to minimize your feelings. He may have a low sex drive, no sex drive or a hormone problem. A licensed marriage counselor might be able to help the two of you discuss this sensitive subject -- and a visit to his doctor could help him find out if his problem is physical. You need more help -- and so does he -- than anyone can give you in a letter.

DEAR ABBY: My grandmother passed away this week. For the last five years my mother was her sole caregiver. Now that Grandma is gone, I'm worried about my mother. She sacrificed her life and friendships to take care of Grandma and Great-Grandma. Now, 10 years later, she's at a total loss.

My mother is a wonderful lady. I don't want to see her hurt and isolated like this. All the relatives are still in town and a lot of us are off work, but when everyone returns to work, it's going to be hard for her. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. -- SAD SURVIVOR

DEAR SAD: Your mother may need some time to get over the loss of her mother and to figure out where to go from here. Don't push her, but do keep an eye on her and encourage her to start reconnecting with friends and activities she once enjoyed.

Grieving is an individual process that can take time (or not), depending upon how prepared she was for your grandmother to go. And hold a good thought. Having done all she could for her mother and grandmother, she may have no regrets and recover faster than you think she will. If that doesn't happen, her doctor, minister or the funeral home can help her locate a grief support group.

DEAR ABBY: I have already decorated my office for the winter holidays, but my co-worker says before Thanksgiving is too early to display a snowman. When do you decorate for the holiday season? -- FESTIVE SOUTHERN GIRL

DEAR SOUTHERN GIRL: This year, in late September, I began seeing Christmas decorations in some stores, and references to Christmas layaway plans being mentioned in the media a few months before that. However, in a work environment I would wait until after the first week of December to begin displaying Christmas decorations.

P.S. If your snowman is a generic winter decoration, it might be appropriate to wait until after the first snowfall.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)