DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Greg,” and I have been married six years. When we first met, he drank every weekend.

He wouldn’t come home after work or even call me. He has come a long way since then.

Greg now calls me from work to see if I “mind” if he goes out with his buddies for “a few” beers. (I don’t mind.) All I ask is that he come home when the bar closes. Greg promises he will, but he never follows through.

He either goes out for breakfast or over to a friend’s house. He usually doesn’t make it home until 6 a.m., and by then I’m furious.

Greg is 36 and I am 29. We have a beautiful 5-year-old daughter.

Is it too much to ask that a married man come home instead of staying out all night with his single friends? We fight constantly over this. (He accuses me of “nagging.”)

One night he was out with my brother, “James.” James was home by 3 a.m. Greg came strolling in at 6 a.m. and claimed he had “no idea” where he had been for the last three hours.

Am I naive to think he wasn’t doing anything wrong? Please help me. I don’t know how much more I can take. When Greg starts drinking, he can’t stop. But he only drinks once a month now. Is that an alcoholic? – END OF MY ROPE IN CLEVELAND

Your husband may binge only once a month, but he is showing at least four classic signs of being an alcoholic.

He is unable to stop drinking once he starts; he is having trouble remembering where he was the next morning; it is causing problems in his home life; and he wishes someone (you) would stop nagging him about his drinking.

Alcoholics Anonymous could help him, but only if he is willing to admit he has a problem and seek help for it.

Al-Anon could give you valuable insight about what is going on in your marriage and how to handle it. (The members of this group are all men and women who share their own personal experiences in dealing with an alcoholic in order to help one another cope with their problems.) You will find it listed in your phone directory.

P.S. Because your husband can’t remember where he is spending the night when he’s out drinking, it might be wise to talk to your doctor and ask to be tested for STDs. A word to the wise …

DEAR ABBY: I may be alone in my thoughts on this subject, but I feel that addressing a woman as “ma’am” is an extremely derogatory term.

I believe it is a derivative of “mammy” and simply a way of keeping a woman in her place.

How would any man like to be called “geezer” or “old goat” on a regular basis? I regard “ma’am” in the same negative light.

How can I politely, yet firmly, respond to those who persist in their rude behavior when I am called “ma’am?” – DEFINITELY NOT YOUR MA’AM IN SOUTH CAROLINA

You must be a recent transplant to the South, because south of the Mason-Dixon (and also in the military), to address a woman as “ma’am” shows respect.

I don’t know where you got the idea that “ma’am” is a derivative of “mammy,” but it’s a huge mistake, and I hope you haven’t said it to anyone else.

“Ma’am” is a contraction of the word “madam,” a form of respectful address to an adult – usually married – woman.

If you prefer to be called something else, ask the person to call you “Lisa,” “Ms. Jones,” etc. But please don’t pick a fight, or you will look foolish.

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.