DEAR ABBY: I am 26 and a single mother. My parents divorced when I was a teenager, but they have always been there for me emotionally and financially. For the most part we have always been a close and loving family who could go out and have a great time together.

The last few times that Dad and I have had drinks, we have said hurtful things to each other, and it has escalated to shoving and hitting. When we’re sober we are affectionate and loving. We go on vacations and have a great time with the whole family.

Do you have any idea what could be causing this? – HUNG OVER IN MIDLAND, TEXAS

DEAR HUNG OVER: Yes, I do. It’s the alcohol. Since alcohol can cause a change in personality, it is important that you and your dad avoid it.

P.S. Are you aware that alcohol problems can run in families? It is vital that you warn your child about this important fact and set a good example. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is listed in your phone book. Contact them, and they will provide you with literature on this subject.

DEAR ABBY: I’m embarrassed to admit this, but after two years of marriage, I still have not sent out thank-you notes to everyone who attended my wedding and gave us gifts.

Our wedding was during finals week of college, and immediately after that, we left for our honeymoon. One week after our return, we moved across the state and had to set up a home and find employment.

I cringe when I think about how many people have asked my mother if we received their gift and “where are the thank-yous.” Is there anything I can do to eliminate this guilt before I’m condemned to live with it forever? – GUILTY IN NEW YORK

DEAR GUILTY: Yes. Buy a nice box of stationery and a pen, and write gracious notes to everyone who gave you a wedding gift. Say, “I apologize for the long delay in writing to you, but I want you to know how much ‘John’ and I are enjoying the lovely ( ) you gave us for our wedding, and I want to thank you for your generosity in giving it to us.” Believe me, it’s better to receive a tardy thank-you note than never to receive one at all.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 49-year-old man with a problem. I have lived with a woman for about four years whom I think the world of – but I am not in love with her. I really don’t feel that I ever loved her. We moved in together for financial reasons, and one thing led to another. She is my best friend, but I’m lonely.

We do not have a sexual relationship, although we share the same bed. I want to be happy in the autumn years of my life. I don’t want to hurt her, but I want to be happy. What should I do? – NEEDS MORE

DEAR NEEDS MORE: One thing is certain, you will never become romantically involved while you’re sharing a home and bed with your ladyfriend. She will probably not be thrilled to hear it, but you must level with her about your feelings. It’s time to move on. Set a deadline to be out, and abide by it.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order “How to Be Popular.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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