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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: What is a wife to do? My husband occasionally pitches in to help me prepare holiday meals. He prides himself on his dishwashing skills, but when he's done I have to rewash most of the pots and pans because he doesn't check his work. If I ask him to redo them, he reacts as though it's a criticism and has an over-the-top fit.

At times like Thanksgiving I'm stressed out cooking for the family and would love his help, but it's more trouble than it's worth. Discussing it with him hasn't been successful, and friends have told me they have the same problem. Can you provide a strategy that can keep us humming along happily with our husbands in the kitchen? -- DREADING THANKSGIVING IN L.A.

DEAR DREADING: Perhaps you should soak the pots and pans immediately after you're done cooking, so when the meal is done your husband will have an easier job of washing them. If any food is still hard to remove, offer to help him by filling the utensils with water and placing them on the stove; let them boil a while, and then wash them again with detergent and a brush. That should solve your problem.

DEAR ABBY: I have wanted a baby for a long time. Now that I'm 31, my desire is growing stronger. My boyfriend of 11 years, "Chad," is 35. His daughter lives with us and I have raised her like she was mine.

Chad and I discussed having a baby and even went to a fertility clinic to make sure we're healthy and would have no complications trying to conceive. Now, almost a year later and still no baby, he says he has a successful business, loves his life and doesn't want any more kids! "Maybe down the road" he "might" change his mind.

I hate him for this. I had two abortions for him five years into our relationship because he felt we weren't ready. He was starting his business and I was still in my last year of college.

Abby, please help me. I am furious with him, and I'm starting to pull away from him and his daughter. -- CHEATED IN NEW YORK

DEAR CHEATED: I'm sorry, but your signature indicates you have a firm grasp of your situation. It appears you will never have what you want if you stay with Chad, so pack your bags and get on with your life.

DEAR ABBY: My wife of 15 years has been forthcoming about the four serious relationships (two marriages included), she had before we were married. Recently, however, she mentioned she still has a "place in her heart" -- and always will -- for her first boyfriend. They had a three-year high school romance.

I find this really disturbing. It's like I will never get 100 percent of her heart, no matter what. It also bothers me that he was just a boyfriend. I could almost accept feelings for an ex-husband because of the nature of the relationship -- but a boyfriend? Come on! Please advise. -- SHE HAS ALL OF ME

DEAR ALL OF ME: Your wife's first love will always have a place in her heart (and many women would concur) because the relationship has been idealized. They didn't experience the ups and downs of daily living, budget problems, child problems, illnesses and other realities that living with someone on a daily basis can present.

You have all of her, including the fact that she tends to romanticize the past. However, your marriage will be better served if, when the subject of the past is raised, you turn it to the present or the future.

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.)