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DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my soul mate for 25 years. We get along great -- she's my best friend and a good mother to our three kids. (She takes care of my mom who lives with us, too.) The only problem is, she loves to sleep.

She will do anything for us except wake up a few hours early without being mad at the world. She gets our kids off to school with no problem, but then returns to bed. I run a small construction company and need someone to answer the phones and do secretary stuff. Our books are a mess, the house is decent, but she won't let me hire a part-time secretary.

She gets up at noon and spends the rest of the day "catching up." It's driving a wedge in our marriage. My friends and their wives do things together on weekends, but not mine. She sleeps until 2 or 3 p.m. on the weekends.

I work a lot of Saturdays, and when I go to customers' homes and see the wife outside gardening, it breaks my heart. I have threatened to leave, and she works on it for a couple days and then falls back into the same old habits. Help! -- HURTING HUSBAND IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HUSBAND: Not everyone requires the same amount of sleep in order to function. Some folks may be fine with five hours, but others need eight, nine or even 10. If your wife needs more than that, there may be an underlying problem of some kind that she should discuss with her doctor.

In marriage there needs to be compromise. If you are experiencing stress because you don't have enough help in your business, then you need to hire someone because your wife is already doing all she can taking care of three kids and your mother. And you shouldn't need her permission.


DEAR ABBY: At a pool party recently, I complimented another woman on her "good figure" (she was wearing a bikini and looked great in it), but I was told later by a different woman who had been there how "hurtful" my compliment had been to everyone else present because I complimented only the bikini-wearing woman. I felt coerced into apologizing to the second woman for not offering a compliment of some kind to everyone else at the party -- which seems artificial and unnecessary (actually stupid) to me.

The woman looking for the apology left me feeling steamed, and now I'm thinking that maybe I apologized for something I didn't need to. Is it true that you shouldn't compliment one person if you can't manage to do the same for everyone else present? -- POOL PARTY COMPLIMENT

DEAR P.P.C.: No, it's not. I have never heard of that rule of etiquette. Following her logic, you would be compelled to compliment every male at an event if you told one that the tie or shirt he was wearing was nice. I suspect the woman was less hurt than jealous, and I doubt the other women at the pool party were paying much attention to what you said.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics

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