DEAR ABBY: I am a 31-year-old male who reads your column every day.
I love my wife with all my heart. I believe she is the most beautiful woman in the world. I have told her that since the day we met, seven years ago, and repeat it often both in and out of the bedroom. I make sure other people know how I feel about my wife, as well.
I make great money. I treat my wife to flowers, special gifts, dinners out on Friday and Saturday nights every weekend at the best restaurants. I do the laundry, clean the house, take care of the kids and pay every bill in the house -- hers and mine -- while working 65 hours a week with no more than four hours of sleep a night.
My problem is, I do not feel appreciated. She always wants more. Please don't tell me to discuss my feelings with her, because I have. We just end up arguing because she thinks I'm belittling her for wanting to hear ''thank you'' and especially ''I love you.''
We rarely make love. I make sure that when we do, it is memorable for her. That's more important to me than my own fulfillment. My excitement is pleasing her.
I hope you, Abby, of all people, understand that men have feelings. We want to be loved and appreciated, too. -- UNAPPRECIATED IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: Of course men have feelings and the need to hear ''I love you.'' However, I'm sad to say you have a one-sided marriage.
Since you have already discussed your feelings with your wife, perhaps it's time to stop doing so many things for her. She might be more appreciative of your efforts if some of the responsibility were placed back on her shoulders.
Even though you love your wife with all your heart, it seems that when you are talking, neither of you is hearing what the other is really saying. You both could benefit from marriage counseling, which may improve your level of communication. Try it, and let me know the results.
DEAR ABBY: I was pleased to read in your column about men who behave like gentlemen. May I share my ''gentleman'' story?
When I leave his house, he always walks me out to the car. He opens the car door for me and then gently hands me my seatbelt as a reminder. When we arrive at our destination, he jumps out of the car and races around to open my door for me. And he always places his hand under mine to keep me from falling.
I have heard women ask their escorts, boyfriends and husbands why they can't be more like him. They smile at my gentleman and tell him they wish they were with him.
My gentleman is my 10-year-old grandson, who is as rough-and-tumble as they come. Although I have four other grandsons, Mark is the most conscientious about practicing good manners.
Thank you for allowing me to brag about my gentleman. -- JUANITA SHARP, SIMPSONVILLE, S.C.
DEAR JUANITA: I'm pleased to print your letter. Children who practice good manners should always be praised for it -- and so should their parents. Mark sounds like a terrific young man.
DEAR ABBY: I have enjoyed your tombstone series. Isn't it great that humor can lift our spirits even when the subject is death and tombstones? It is a unique legacy and a wonderful way to remember those who go before us.
At a particularly frustrating time in my life, when I just wasn't getting something right, I wrote this poem. I'll bet others can identify with it, too:
EPITAPH FOR A PERFECTIONIST
''It has to be right, no less will do!''
She vowed and firmly believed it.
In life she aimed at perfection;
In death she finally achieved it.
They buried her corpse on a lonely hill
At the foot of a stone that read,
''May she rest in perfect peace,
''For now she is perfectly dead.''
-- JOHNNYE JO, N.C.
DEAR JOHNNYE JO: I'm pleased that penning the verse was therapeutic for what ailed you. Perfection is something most of us strive for, but few attain. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I have another humorous epitaph to add to your collection of tombstone stories.
The reference made to the old cemetery in Key West, Fla., brought to mind another tombstone in that cemetery. It reads: ''Now I know where he is every night.''
People in Key West must have a great sense of humor! -- LORRAINE B., VICKSBURG, MISS.
DEAR LORRAINE: Yes, one that's out of this world. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: While you're on the subject of tombstones, I saw one in a cemetery near Breckenridge, Texas, that read: ''Rest in Peace -- I Hope.''
For my own monument, I would like ''Rest in Pieces'' inscribed. I have had so many operations in different towns that I could never gather all of me together in one grave. -- ADELLE O., APPLE VALLEY, CALIF.
DEAR ADELLE: Hold this thought: Sometimes less is more. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The enclosed is a bit of doggerel I wrote while working on the wording of my last will. As a poet of modest publishing success, when I run into the inevitable roadblock, I resort to nonsense words that aren't meant to do anything or say anything:
In whom do I confide
When I finally decide
''By God -- he tried.''
To the point, I think! -- HOWARD CANN, RENO, NEV.
DEAR HOWARD: I hope this isn't an indication of my mental state, but your epitaph makes perfect sense to me.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order ''How to Have a Lovely Wedding.'' Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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