DEAR ABBY: I am 12 and have bad problems at school. Whenever I’m behind, can’t figure out a problem or just want to get it done, I cheat.

I’m home-schooled, and my mom is my teacher, which means the answer books are in my “classroom.” I have tried to stop, but some-times I can’t resist the temptation.

I have asked Mom to lock away the answer books, but she won’t. There-for I continue to cheat. What should I do? – CHEATER IN CALIFORNIA

Quit cheating, reorganize your time, and get extra help with your subjects if you need it. It is vital that you understand that when you cheat, the only person who gets cheated is yourself. Yes, you can “ace” a test – but if you haven’t learned the material, you will eventually pay a penalty.

Take another look at your letter. It contains two errors. At some point you will have to take responsibility for your actions – and from my perspective, the sooner you do it, the better off you’ll be.

DEAR ABBY: I’m a longtime faithful reader who has managed to ruin her marriage. I have been married to “Jim” for three years. We married after a very short courtship and had been generally happy, although I am admittedly insecure.

We bought a house six months ago. At the time, our finances were OK. Then Jim lost his job and had to get one that paid less. He forged on, but I wanted him to find something that paid more because the bills were eating us alive. I also discovered his account was always overdrawn. (We don’t have join checking accounts for a reason.)

To make a long story short, when I found out he wasn’t being forthright, I got upset. Another overdraft notice came to the house, and I yelled again. Jim didn’t come home that night, and now he refuses to take my phone calls or respond to my text messages.

I sent him a message saying I wanted a divorce and didn’t want to be married to him anymore, but only because I thought HE wanted out. I folded his things the day I sent it, and when I came home after work I found his keys and wedding band on the kitchen counter – no note or anything.

I have tried calling to apologize. His sister says he will eventually talk to me “when he’s ready.” Abby, I love my husband. I would go get counseling if that’s what it takes to bring him back and make our marriage work, but I can’t if he won’t meet me halfway. Please help me. I don’t know what to do. – ADRIFT IN ANDERSON, S.C.

DEAR ADRIFT: Take your cue from your sister-in-law, and give Jim some time to cool off and sort out his feelings. He probably knows you want to reconcile, and the ball is now in his court.

Frankly, it appears that neither of you was ready for the marriage you rushed into. Premarital counseling would have shown you that your attitudes about money were not in harmony. And sending him a message (texting?!) that you wanted a divorce because you thought he wanted out was rash and immature.

IF Jim wants to try again, it is extremely important that the two of you improve your level of verbal communication. However, if he doesn’t, you will have to accept it and learn from this painful experience that you can’t unring the bell, so choose your words and your tone carefully.

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 $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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