DEAR ABBY: My sister, “Joni,” caught me having sex with my boyfriend. (We used protection, so it’s not like I’m going to get pregnant.)

Our parents were away and Joni was supposed to be gone for several hours, so I thought we would be safe. But Joni had a fight with her boyfriend, came home sooner than we expected and caught us “in the act.”

Now she’s blackmailing me. I have to hand my allowance over to her – and that’s not all. She has turned me into her personal slave – changing her bed, picking up her dirty clothes and doing her chores. She forces me to let her wear my nicest jeans and shirts, but because she’s bigger than me, my clothes are getting stretched out of shape or torn at the seams. When I complain, she says, “What are you going to do about it? Go ahead and tell Mom and see what I tell her!”

I know if Joni tells our parents they won’t let me see my boyfriend anymore. We’re in love, and I couldn’t handle that. But the blackmail is driving me crazy. Please help me. – BLACKMAILED IN AMES, IOWA

Part of being sexually active is being mature enough to be responsible about it – and that includes not only making sure you won’t become pregnant but also that you won’t contract a sexually transmitted disease, some of which, I am sad to say, are rampant today. Because you are sexually active, you should now have regular checkups by a gynecologist and possibly be using a second form of birth control because condoms have been known to fail.

That is why it is important that you confide in your mother. Once she knows, your sister will have nothing to blackmail you about.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I disagree about something. When we use a restaurant coupon, how should we figure the tip? I say you should tip on what the total would have been if you didn’t have the coupon. He says we tip on the discounted amount. It is unpleasant to go out anymore because we end up arguing at the end of the meal. Who is right? – COUPONING IN NEW MEXICO

You are. Your husband is already getting a good deal because he is getting a discount. For him to expect the server to suffer a loss in gratuity income is stingy. How would he feel if the person brought out only one entree and let him pick up his from the kitchen? Not too pleased, I suspect.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been arguing about relationships after marriage. My daughter was married a while ago, and I have been told that now I must consider her in- laws as “family.”

That’s not the way I remember learning it. Yes, my daughter is now related to her husband’s parents by marriage, but since when is there a “dotted line” connecting them to me? – UNRELATED IN MICHIGAN

The “dotted line” is the umbilical cord that connected your daughter to your wife and the heartstring that connects you to your daughter. So warm up and get with the program, or the person on the outside will be you.

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.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.