DEAR ABBY: I’m confused about my husband’s behavior. He is very smart and works as a computer programmer. Whenever I have a problem with my computer and ask him to help me with it, he gets mad and rants and raves about how he “told me how to fix the problem months ago,” or insists that I really should “know” how to fix it or figure it out myself.

After years of feeling like a twit any time I asked for his help on computer-related problems, I started taking my computer to be professionally repaired or upgraded any time there was a problem. Then he started complaining to me for having it worked on when he could do the work himself!

I don’t know what to do. If I ask for help, he gets mad and belittles me for not knowing how to fix it myself, but I get the same treatment if I have it done by someone else. Is there a way out of this no-win situation? – DARNED IF I DO, DARNED IF I DON’T, SANFORD, FLA.

DEAR DARNED: By now it should be clear to you that your problem has nothing to do with computers. Your computer-whiz of a husband takes out his frustrations by verbally abusing you. The way out of this no-win situation is to get to the bottom of what’s REALLY “bugging” him. My advice is to drag him to a marriage counselor or drop him before you’re beaten down altogether.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 12-year-old boy and I’m having a girl problem. I’m in middle school, and there’s a girl in my class, “Tara,” who likes me. I like Tara as a friend. She has asked me out a few times and I have said, “No, I can’t date until I’m 16.”

In the meantime, I like a girl named “Amber” who goes to the same school. We’re not really friends, but we have talked to each other. I have been told by my neighbor, who is on the same softball team as Amber, that she likes me. I’d like to ask Amber out when I can, but I don’t want to hurt Tara’s feelings. What do I do? – TORN IN ALBANY, CALIF.

DEAR TORN: I respect the fact that you are a sensitive young man with a conscience. This predicament should have taught you that even a small lie can assume gigantic proportions and eventually bite you in the fanny. If you intend to ask Amber out any time soon, you should first have a chat with Tara and explain that you weren’t entirely truthful with her regarding your parents’ restriction on dating. Tell her that you like her as a friend – and hope you will always be friends — but you would not be comfortable dating her – at least not right now. (Which leaves the door open for you to date her in the future, if you ever change your mind.)

DEAR ABBY: When someone gives a wedding or Christmas gift of wine or uncooked meat, are you supposed to have the giver over for dinner when you serve it? Please note that they were not intended to be served or cooked at the time the gift was given.

My husband and I are unsure about what to do, but we lean in opposite directions on what is proper. – “CASSIE” IN PITTSFIELD, MASS.

DEAR “CASSIE”: When a gift is given, it belongs to the recipient to do with as he or she chooses. No rule of etiquette obligates you to share it with the giver.

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.

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