DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My new husband, who turns out to have very little class, has been keeping score of how many times we've have sex since our wedding by putting a penny in a glass jar after each time. His alcoholic father, who has no class whatsoever, told him that after the first year of marriage, he could start taking pennies out and he'd never get to the bottom of the jar. I have grown to hate that %$@& penny jar and want to throw it against the wall. In fact, it's got so I don't want to deliver sexually, because I don't want to see that smirky little smile as he drops another penny in the jar. I don't want to quit having sex altogether -- I need it and want it -- but I don't want any more of this crapola. How do I get him to stop? -- Irritated Bride, Selkirk
Dear Irritated: Take the sex-count jar, dump it out, rinse it and put it in the recycling bin. He puts another jar up? Rinse and repeat. He will get the message. You are also in charge of this married sex life. Rather than deferring to his total lack of judgment, make your feelings known and back them up with action or inaction. If he wants happy and plentiful sex -- and it's likely he does -- that jar is gone! Check out the problem below from another unhappy bride.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been married to my husband almost a year now and he tells me he loves me, but lately he has been saying things that make me second-guess his love. He has told me in a "joking" way that he would not want to be married to me if I gained weight, which I find hurtful. I have not gained any weight since becoming married to him, but I wonder if he is only in love with me on a physical level. What's worse is, he's gained some weight since we met and I have never made a point of bringing this up, as I don't feel it impacts how much I love him. I don't know what to do because he knows his comments hurt me and yet he still says them. I know he thinks these comments are no big deal but I am almost wondering whether I want to stay married to a man who feels this way. -- Almost Divorced, Winnipeg.
Dear Almost Divorced: What's really going on here? It's a big leap from being upset with your husband to signing yourself "Almost Divorced," and in only one year. It's time for a good first-year fight. Demand to know why he appears to be undermining the success of this marriage by announcing conditions for you on weight gain. Bring up his weight gain, and ask him if this is one of those "best defence is a good offence" manoeuvres. And, don't be afraid to ask him if he's looking for a way out. Let him know you're onto some kind of game going on, and it's time the manipulation was out in the open. But before you have this fight, think deeply. Are you sure you aren't also looking for a way out, too?
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been going through so many rough patches with my boyfriend. We moved out of province together because he got a job out there, then I came back home and now he comes to visit every few weeks because he wants to make it work. I have to cut my losses because I just can't continue to cry. He is just not for me. Can you suggest a self-esteem course offered in Winnipeg with no waiting list and preferably at no charge? I'm a student -- can't afford anything. -- Feeling Bad About Myself, Winnipeg
Dear Feeling Bad: Universities and colleges offer free counselling to students, so make an appointment. While you may not be able to find a self-esteem group class, you will be able to get one-on-one counselling. You should also know that taking on and conquering a series of challenges will steadily raise your self-esteem -- sports, work, travel, courses. Take back your power after this breakup by switching your thought focus him to you. Step out of the crumbled relationship and enjoy the growth process.