DEAR ABBY: “Charlotte” and I dated happily for six years before we married. Now, after only a few months, she finds almost everything about me wrong. For example, I offered to trim her toenails, not because I thought they looked bad but because I thought she might appreciate it. She became upset with me and accused me of criticizing her appearance.

This kind of thing happens every week. I feel uneasy about saying anything to her. All I’m trying to do is show her how much I love her and that I’m there for her. Charlotte is beautiful. She’s 51 but looks 40. I’m 61 and look 61. Have you any advice for me? We have both been married twice before. – TRYING TO BE THE PERFECT HUSBAND IN TENNESSEE

What a sad situation. Not knowing Charlotte, I can’t comment on her quirks. Has she always been sensitive about her appearance or is this something new? Has your behavior changed since the wedding? In other words, could you be trying so hard to please her that it is off-putting?

Please consider this, and if her fault-finding continues, see if she will agree to marriage counseling. Whatever is happening between you, without some mediation, neither of you will be happier in this marriage than you were in the two that preceded it.

DEAR ABBY: I am 17, and my younger brother is 16. He is already a father, and when he goes out with his friends, he ends up getting in trouble. I have tried to explain to him that he needs to stay away from those “friends” and think about his baby. He was arrested four days after the baby was born, and he just got out of jail.

I have already told him I don’t want to visit him in jail again, and I don’t want my nephew to grow up without a dad. What can I say so that he can stay out of trouble? – BIG SISTER IN DODGE CITY, KAN.

Although you are only a year older, you appear to be a lot more emotionally mature than your brother. Somehow it seems he has not yet grasped the fact that irresponsible actions bring about consequences. While I appreciate your desire to protect him from himself, it is just not possible. I’m sorry to say that some people have to learn their lessons the hard way, and your brother appears to be one of them.

DEAR ABBY: My only child will graduate in June, and we are faced with a problem. My mentally ill sister – who has a history of making scenes – wants to attend the graduation ceremony. She has spoiled many family celebrations. It makes no difference to her where or when she “goes off.”

Although I believe in forgiveness, I don’t want to take the chance that she will ruin the day my son graduates. There is a growing rift in the family over this, and I welcome your advice. – MOTHER OF THE GRADUATE

I assume that your sister cannot control her emotions and behavior. Tickets to most graduation ceremonies are strictly limited, and if you have reason to believe that her presence will be disruptive, you should not invite her. If you are planning a celebration for extended family and friends afterward, she can be included as long as someone is assigned to watch over her and will escort her out if she creates a scene.

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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