Dear Amy:

My husband and I had a tedious marriage, which ended because he kept getting arrested, couldn't get a decent job and was plunging us into debt.

I told him it was over a year and a half ago, shortly before he was sent to jail for four months. I have been climbing out of debt since then and haven't had the money to get the divorce paperwork done yet.

We've been amicable in this time and live in different states.

Now he wants the engagement ring back to give to a friend who wants to propose to his girlfriend but can't afford a ring.

The problem is I sold the ring a few months back to cover old debts (debts incurred because the money for bills always went to bail).

Now he is furious. Because we were married for two and a half years and he told me on many occasions that he wanted me to keep the ring, am I crazy to think that I didn't do anything wrong here?

Ringless

You're right -- having a jailbird for a husband is the height of tedium. It's good that you're out of this marriage.

Now it's time to get out of the relationship.

This ring was yours to dispose of however you chose. It's too bad that you didn't use the profit from the ring sale to get divorced -- the symbolic value of the gesture alone would have made it worth it.

Dear Amy:

This is responding to a letter from "In the Know," a 16-year-old who challenged your advice to ask school counselors for guidance.

Did you ever go to your school counselor for advice?

Fifteen years ago I tried approaching our high school counselor several times. He offered no assistance when dealing with bullying. His career advice was uninformed, lacked direction and wasted a semester of my time with studies that were not required.

When my brother committed suicide, I saw neither hide nor hair of my counselor on my return to school.

Some who write to ask for your advice may be seeking that external nudge to do what can seem like the scariest thing in the world -- speak to a real person about a real problem.

But for those who have read advice columns for years, know the alternatives and have tried them already, "You should try speaking to your school counselor" can sound like just another person saying, "I don't have any idea of how to fix things."

Also Frustrated

My defense of school counselors has unleashed a fusillade of complaints from readers about nonexistent or incompetent school counselors, complete with utter horror stories, such as yours.

In my initial research on this subject, I learned, somewhat to my surprise, that education and training requirements for public school counselors (as well as funding) varies widely from state to state. When school counselors are trained and given a specific mandate that includes mental-health training, kids benefit.

My suggestion that young readers seek out their school counselors is one way of me trying to encourage them to reach out to an adult -- any adult -- whom they feel they can trust. This could be a favorite teacher, aunt or uncle, or the parents of a friend.

Dear Amy:

You asked women to tell you what it takes to make men happy?

Thank him when he does all those chores you throw his way, tell him how loved and secure he makes you feel, and believe him when he says you're beautiful.

Jeanne Dansby

I've received many responses from women on this question and will run some in future columns.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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