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Beach house is no picnic for this stressed-out wife

Dear Abby: My husband retired and we thought we were fulfilling our lifetime dream when we moved to the beach, but our dream has turned into a nightmare. Our family never wanted to visit us this often before.

When they come, no one even brings along so much as a bottle of water. My grocery bill has skyrocketed, and I'm sick of playing the role of cook and maid while they have a wonderful time.

I'm ready to move back to our hometown. At least there I had a life besides cooking and cleaning. My husband wants to live here because it's his dream, but I can't take another year of this. The workload is killing me.

I have been a fool for putting up with everyone having a carefree vacation at my expense. I'm so angry I'm ready to leave my husband with his dream. The last 3 years have been hell. When friends and family ask why I left, should I tell them, or keep my mouth shut and build a peaceful life by myself? – Running For My Life

Dear Running: Leaving your husband is not the solution. Telling the individuals who are taking advantage of your hospitality that the rules have changed is. Set rules before guests arrive. If it's not convenient for you to entertain, speak up and say so when the relatives call to say they're coming. Make it clear that they will be doing their own laundry, buying their own groceries, etc.

And while you're at it, understand that the reason this has gotten out of hand is partly your husband's fault. He's retired; he can lend a hand.

The Good Lord gave you the gift of speech. For the sake of your sanity and your marriage, I'm suggesting you use it.

Dear Abby: Seven years ago, I was in a relationship with a man I thought was my soul mate. (I'll call him Louis.) We were together for two years and had planned on getting married right after college. Louis ended up breaking the engagement and 6 months later married another woman. I was shocked and heartbroken. We went our separate ways.

Louis contacted me recently. He apologized for the past and said he was out of his mind for losing me. He also said he was recently divorced and wants to see me to "catch up."

I have healed from the heartache and moved on, but I am not currently in a relationship. I am content with my life. The problem is, my curiosity and my heart are tripping me up. I'm wary of falling back in love with Louis and don't want to reopen any old wounds.

What do you think, Abby? Should I meet him and see what happens, or let the past stay where it is? – Over Him? in New York

Dear Over Him?: Louis may be a cad – or he may have become more mature in the last 7 years. Because you are curious, I think you should go. But if he starts wooing you again, do not get serious unless you have had couples counseling. It's important that you clearly understand what went wrong in your romance the first time so it doesn't happen again.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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