DEAR ABBY: When I was 18, I married someone who, at the time, I loved very much. It happened sort of spur of the moment. Not even six months into the marriage, he cheated on me.
I am now 20, divorced and finally feel ready to move on. But how do I go about dating at my age being a divorcee? I don't know how to talk about it. I have friends who don't even know I was married. How should I handle it? -- DIVORCEE IN ILLINOIS
DEAR DIVORCEE: Unless you are planning to meet men on a dating site that requires you to disclose that information as part of your profile, I see no reason why you have to mention it. If you are asked, however, be honest about your status. All you need to say is that you married, very briefly, at the age of 18, and it didn't work out because you were both too young. It's the truth, and there is no shame in it.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 39-year-old female, and I want to know more about my ancestors so I can tell stories about them to my kids. The thing is, my boyfriend doesn't like the idea, and anytime I say or do something, he criticizes me about it. He's also very controlling and manipulative. He feels it's his way or the highway. That's why I want out -- for the sake of my life and the kids. I have no money and nowhere to go. What should I do? -- CRYING IN WESTERN WASHINGTON
DEAR CRYING: I agree the situation you describe isn't healthy for you or the children. If you have no family to help, you will have to work toward independence in small steps. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org or 800-799-7233) for suggestions on how to disengage from your abuser (oops! I meant "boyfriend") without any of you being harmed. Then find a job so you won't be penniless, and start saving your money.
DEAR ABBY: I feel petty complaining about this, but my wife has a habit I can't stand. We keep a stick of butter on a butter dish and replace it when it's used up. However, when my wife uses it, instead of cutting off thin slices, she scrapes her knife across the entire top of the butter cube, gradually whittling it down. Not only do I find it unsightly, but I also think it's unsanitary.
Needless to say, when I've mentioned it to her, she has strongly disagreed. I'm reluctant to bring it up anymore as it is settled, in her mind. I have tried using a different stick of butter, which I keep in the refrigerator and unwrap every time I want to use it, but she criticizes me for it, saying we shouldn't have two sticks in use at the same time.
I suppose there's an upside -- I'm using less butter, which my doctor approves of. What do you think about this habit of hers? -- BUTTER WARS IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR BUTTER WARS: It seems there is a power struggle going on between your wife and you. Because you have expressed to her more than once that you find what she's doing unappetizing, she should respect your wishes. However, if she continues, she should look the other way when you use your own butter stick.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)