DEAR ABBY: It saddens me when I hear women complain that men don't do their fair share around the home. When a woman says, "He didn't put the toilet seat down," I want to ask, "Did you put it back up for him?" When a woman says, "He didn't pick up his dishes," I want to ask, "Did you clean up the oil spot your car left in the garage?" When a woman says, "He left his clothes on the floor," I want to ask, "Did you dump the unpaid bills on his desk?"
I believe marriage is a personal relationship between two loving people, not an opportunity to complain to others about perceived abuses.
During the 40 years my husband and I have been married, we both worked and managed to raise three productive members of society. We have a tacit agreement. Each of us does absolutely everything possible to keep the home running smoothly, never tallying and setting up balance sheets. Out of love, each of us does whatever improves our common good, and both of us find reason for daily surprises as we receive in kind from the other. -- JO IN PHOENIX
DEAR JO: You and your husband are fortunate to have found each other, and you have obviously worked out a formula for a lasting and meaningful marriage. You should bottle it!
DEAR ABBY: My stepmother allowed me to live in one of her properties for very low rent, which was a great gift. I will soon be searching for a home to buy, and this is where I have a problem.
My stepsister, "Diana," is a real estate agent who has been hit with hard times in this economy. Naturally, my stepmom would like me to hire her daughter, but Diana is lazy, uncommitted and unfamiliar with the area in which I want to buy.
I have another agent in mind who specializes in homes in my area, who can recommend neighborhoods and show me as many houses as needed. I don't want to disappoint my stepmother if I don't hire her daughter. What should I do? -- IN A BIND IN TENNESSEE
DEAR IN A BIND: Hire the real estate agent you have in mind. And if your stepmother brings up the subject, tell her that you did so because the person is more familiar with the area in which you want to live. However, do not tell her that you consider her daughter to be lazy and uncommitted because I guarantee she will take it personally.
DEAR ABBY: My grandfather died recently, and I missed some school because I went to his funeral out of state. When people ask me where I went and I tell them, they ask if I'm going to be OK and say how sorry they are. They all act like they expect me to break down and start crying any second.
The problem is, I didn't really know my grandfather that well. He lived across the country, and the few times I got to visit him I can honestly say I didn't really like him -- if you're even allowed to say that about a grandparent.
How am I supposed to tell these people that I am not broken up about him dying, and I'm not going to burst into tears any time soon? -- NOT CRYING IN IOWA
DEAR NOT CRYING: It is not necessary to say that to anyone to whom you aren't close. All you need to say is, "Thank you for offering your sympathy. It was nice of you to do that." Then change the subject by asking the person what he or she has been doing.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)