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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Leon" for 3 1/2 years. We have a 2-year-old daughter and are, for the most part, happy. However, one issue comes up frequently and seems to be the basis of all of our disagreements.

Leon is hung up on things being "equal." This can range from whose "turn" it is to do the dishes, change the diapers, put our daughter to bed -- to exactly how many days we spend with each set of parents. If we travel to see my parents, we must also travel to see his.

This "equal" obsession drives me nuts. I'm fully in support of "fair," but if I'm busy making dinner, it seems to me that he could change the baby's diaper even if it's my "turn." As for visiting the in-laws, he became upset with me when I wanted to plan a trip to see my parents without simultaneously planning one to visit his. He felt shortchanged -- until we added it up, and it turned out we've spent five weeks more with his family than with mine.

A marriage is a partnership, and I believe in picking up the slack when Leon is overwhelmed, sick or tired. Why can't he do the same for me? -- UNFAIRLY EQUAL IN PHOENIX

DEAR UNFAIRLY EQUAL: Because, for whatever reason, your husband is obsessed with the idea that he's going to get the short end of the stick -- if you'll forgive the vernacular. Either that, or he's obsessive-compulsive and also counts steps, turns and other meaningless minutiae. That he would expect you to stop preparing dinner to change a diaper is, to put it mildly -- yech! However, he isn't going to change until he realizes he has a problem. The incident involving visiting your parents should have been his first clue.

DEAR ABBY: How do I get my dad to stop making uncalled-for comments? I'm 13, and I'm ready to stop inviting my friends over. My father always seems to say the worst possible thing.

For example, my friend "Amanda" was over one day. She has low self-esteem and body image problems. She was complaining to me about how curly her hair gets after she swims. I reassured her that it wasn't that bad, but then Dad came in and said, "Whoa! What's that? Your hair looks like something out of the 1980s!"

I replied, "Dad, could you please be quiet?" and he glared at me and continued. He often asks my friends if they're married yet, as a joke, and can't take a hint when he's the only one laughing. More than one of my friends have said they feel uncomfortable around him or just don't like him.

If I try to bring it up, Dad reminds me that back in my fifth-grade class everyone liked him. That was three years ago, and I have grown up and so have my friends. How do I teach Dad to take a hint? -- MORTIFIED IN FLORIDA

DEAR MORTIFIED: You don't. Because he won't accept hearing it from you, it's better he get the message from another adult that his attempts at humor are in poor taste and not funny. Talk to your mother or another adult female relative and tell her what your father is doing. If he keeps it up, you won't have to worry about not inviting friends to your house because they won't want to come over and be embarrassed.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)