DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ray," and I have been together for eight years, married for one. He is a great husband who works hard, is responsible, healthy, and he does half the household chores. He also tries to stay in great shape. We have a lot in common. My only problem is how Ray shows his love for me.
Ray says he expresses his love by doing what needs to be done -- repairs, yard work, grocery shopping, etc. I appreciate it, but it doesn't feel like love to me. I'd like him to buy me flowers, send me handwritten notes, take me to romantic candlelit dinners, etc. I reciprocate by giving him back rubs, baking him his favorite pie and buying him small gifts.
How can I get my husband to understand that it would be good for our marriage to give each other these "extra" acts of sweetness? We have talked about it, but he hasn't changed. -- DEMONSTRATING LOVE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
DEAR DEMONSTRATING LOVE: You can't dictate how someone "should" express love. If the gestures you're looking for don't come naturally, it really is defeating the purpose to demand it. Many women would kill to have a husband who demonstrated his love by doing all the things your husband does.
Unless Ray has suddenly changed since your wedding, this is the person he was all during your seven-year courtship. The chances of him changing to any great degree are slim, so try to accept him the way he is, and you'll both be happier.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are in our early 30s and both have full-time jobs. Because of our busy work schedules and a general lack of desire to be parents, we have decided not to have children. We have nothing against kids, but we feel it isn't the best fit for our lifestyle.
The problem is my mother. She has a small farm I was always told I would one day inherit and move back to. My degree is in agriculture, and my husband and I have been saving for this for some time. Mom now says unless we have a child to pass the farm onto, we can't have it.
I am devastated about not being able to fulfill our dream and the pressure of my mother trying to force parenthood on us. I refuse to cave into her demand, but I'm not sure how to handle myself around her. Should I cut off contact until she stops badgering me? Should I just let her remarks go? I am sad and hurt to have been put in this position. Any advice? -- CORNERED IN OHIO
DEAR CORNERED: People who don't want to be parents usually don't make very good ones -- and to bring a child into the world in order to get your hands on your mother's farm would be unfair to the child.
I see no reason to cut off your mother. When she raises this subject again (and she will), tell her that even if you had a baby "to pass the farm onto," there is no guarantee the child would want it. In the meantime, continue saving your money so you will have a sufficient down payment for a farm of your own -- no strings attached.
DEAR ABBY: I have read your column for years and like it. But now I think you must be a man. I still like the column, maybe even more, but you do seem like a man. Are you one? Or is Abby a committee? -- CURIOUS IN TUCSON
DEAR CURIOUS: I heard a rumor years ago that Dear Abby was an overweight, unshaven, cigar-smoking man, but I assure you it isn't true. (I'd sure like to know who started that one.) I write my own column, and this morning when I emerged from my shower and looked in the mirror, I was definitely female. I promise to keep you posted if anything changes.
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- DEAR ABBY