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Free education not worth risk

Question: I've been married four years. My husband is courteous, intelligent, earns a hefty salary, and spoils me with gifts. Here's the problem: He has a terrible temper. He hasn't hit me (yet), but he is incredibly destructive to our home and any inanimate object in his path. He'll go for months with no violent outbursts, then suddenly he may have three or four in a day. He wasn't like this before we married.

To complicate matters even more, I am going to college full time. With only a year left until graduation, I'd really rather stay put until I can stand on my own. I've told my husband that if I were working full time I would have divorced him already, and that if he doesn't change his ways by graduation I will leave then. Do I stay until school is over, or leave and tough it out?

Answer: There are better ways to finance college than sleeping with a violent man.

I appreciate that you're trying to protect your own interests against someone with physical, economic and, by way of intimidation, emotional power over you. But the moment violence comes into play, self-preservation is your self-interest.

Is a free education, something you can realistically manage without, worth the risk you'll get hurt?

Meanwhile, he sounds like a dangerous, unstable person from whom you should rightly distance yourself _ but he is still a person. One who needs serious professional help.

And, who deserves not to be used. If you have honestly gone "past the point of no return" and you wouldn't want him even if he got help and changed, then decency demands that you end it. Do it carefully, with the help of a counselor experienced in domestic violence, but do it.

Then visit your school's financial-aid office. Loans, grants, night courses and work-study jobs exist for people like you.

The less said the better

Question: How do you break up with a friend? I'm learning that she has said some extremely mean things about me to others. I used to defend her when people accused her of certain behaviors; now I'm realizing she does those same things to me. My boyfriend describes her as "poison." You get the picture.

Answer: If you were close, confront her. If not, just stop extending invitations and decline any from her; you're obligated to explain only if she asks.

If she's as bad as you say and as widely accused as you suggest, you may not have much explaining to do. Let her toxicity speak for itself.

Tell it like it is

Question: My best friend assumes I will be her maid of honor. I would certainly do it if asked. But, to my surprise, she is getting married in a distant place, and I am young, single, paying off debt, and don't have the cash to pay for a flight, dress and the obligations of being in a wedding. This isn't the first time this issue has come up. My friend is rich, and I am self-supporting and have worked for what I have. I am trying to come up with a nice way of telling her that I can't be in the wedding without some outside funding, but I don't know how to say it. Subtle hints have not worked. What say you?

Answer: No matter how nicely you said it, it would stop being nice the moment you stuck your hand out for a donation.

The only thing that matters here is that you can't afford to go to your best friend's wedding. So, say to your best friend, without ulterior motive, "I'm sorry, I can't afford to go to your wedding."

Tell me about it! E-mail tellmewashpost.com; fax (202) 334-5669; write "Tell Me About It," c/o the Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.

Washington Post Writers Group

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