DEAR ABBY: I'm recently married, and in my opinion, my wife has too many pets -- seven inside dogs. She also feeds the neighborhood cats, so at any given time of day, there are 10 to 18 cats in our front yard.
The dogs inside have no boundaries. They have taken over the main living space. The family room sofas are filthy and destroyed, so we can't use that space either, and it's a total eyesore. The carpet is gone, and there is dirt and dog hair everywhere.
I'm at my wits' end. I feel I have no say in this matter, and I'm constantly stressed over these living conditions. I hate going home. I have dogs with me when I eat, sleep and make love. I don't know how to approach her on this when she sees nothing wrong with it. All she sees is their cuteness. -- LIVING LIKE AN ANIMAL IN PHOENIX
DEAR LIVING: Didn't you know about your wife's love of animals while you were engaged? Explain to her that when you married her, you didn't realize you would be just another occupant in her doghouse. The living conditions you describe are not only stressful, but could also be considered a health hazard.
Contact the city or county and find out whether there are restrictions on the number of animals that homeowners are allowed to keep on their property. (I hope they have all been spayed or neutered!)
As a partner in this marriage, your wishes should be taken into consideration and a compromise worked out. I, too, am concerned about her feeding the ever-increasing number of neighborhood cats, some of which may carry diseases. One problem with leaving food out for strays is it can attract other "critters," which could endanger the cats she is trying to help.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a gay man. My sister and I are best friends. I love her dearly. Long story short, she has now taken her religious beliefs much more seriously (Christianity).
She's married, with three wonderful children (6, 4 and 2 years old) who my partner and I adore. They attend church every weekend, rehearse Bible verses with their children every night and are very active in their community.
My partner and I visit as often as we can to spend time with her and the kids. They live 200 miles away, and the drive is a long one, so we stay overnight. On our last visit, she pulled me aside and expressed how uncomfortable she and her husband have been feeling with the sleeping arrangement. They don't agree with us sleeping in the same room because we are "not married."
I know it's more than that -- it is because we are not a straight couple. They said they prefer we sleep in different rooms when we visit them. My partner and I feel devastated, sad and obviously blindsided. We don't know what to do. Can you help? -- SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN
DEAR SECOND CLASS: From your description, it's unlikely that your sister and her husband will become more accepting than they are. As I see it, you have no choice but to "turn the other cheek" and spend your nights in a nearby hotel or motel. That may be the sacrifice you have to make to maintain your close relationship with the kids. If you and your partner eventually decide to marry, do not be surprised if it does not change the situation.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)