Dear Abby:

My wife, "Jenny," and I married 12 years ago because she was pregnant. I knew she had been promiscuous as a teenager, but I thought I could cope with it. Now, after two children, I have second thoughts. When we married, Jenny weighed 115 pounds. (She's 5 foot 1.) Now, after two children, she weighs 170 pounds, and her clothes are size 16.

I am frustrated at the fact Jenny cares so little about her appearance. Yes, we all change, and I understand that. But I get furious when I think my wife gave up caring about her appearance when I put the ring on her finger. It looks like she got her man, so now she's complacent. I am insanely jealous because I feel like Jenny wanted to look good when she was chasing boys, but she doesn't care now.

Talking about it and counseling haven't helped. I know these are not healthy feelings, but they are in my heart. I'm thankful for my wife and kids, but I also feel cheated. Please don't tell me that weight gain is biological. There are plenty of thinner moms around. What can I do to help her see my point of view?

Tied to a Heavy Ball and Chain

If counseling hasn't helped, I'm not sure I can, but I'll try. Perhaps your wife's problem isn't complacency. Has it occurred to you that she could be feeling depressed, stressed and trapped? You describe your marriage as more of a shotgun wedding than a love match. She now has two children to raise, and a husband who resents the fact that she wasn't a virgin bride. On top of that, she has put on 55 pounds -- and losing that much weight is a daunting challenge.

If you really want your wife to get back in shape, my advice is to dwell less on what she's eating and more on what's eating her. Stop harping on her past, which she can't change, and start talking about your future and the fact that you want her to be healthy and feeling good about herself. Tell her you love her and keep repeating it. Find activities you can do together that will help her become more physically active and give you time to communicate with each other away from the children. Perhaps then she will be more receptive to making positive changes in her lifestyle.

Dear Abby:

I work in a nursing home. Yesterday there was a note left that said a resident would be going out for dinner with his family, and to have him ready at 1 p.m. and expect him back at 7 p.m.

What would you consider dinner, Abby -- lunch or supper? Half the staff consider it the evening meal, the other half consider it the noon meal. We are . . .

Curious in Pennsylvania

Depending on the part of the country where you were raised, "dinner" can be either lunch or supper. Where I was raised, "dinner" meant the evening meal. My Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines dinner as "the principal meal of the day." "Supper," as defined by Webster's, is "the evening meal, or a light meal served late in the evening."

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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c) 2004, Universal Press Syndicate