Many people think the Bombecks have a stable marriage. In public we hold hands, laugh at each other's jokes and present a picture of tranquility.

It's a sham.Once we are in the house behind closed doors, the controversy over the old newspapers that surround us rears its ugly head.

Because this is my column, this is my side of the story. I love newspapers. I started working for one when I was 15. I've been recording my words in them for more than 30 years. I read them, and then I discard them like dead fish and go on to a fresh one the next day.

My husband does not do this. He does a quick scan at breakfast, goes to the bathroom with the comics under his arm, and later at night falls asleep in his chair with the paper.

Now, here's the scary part. Does he admit there's more paper than hours in the day? No! He carefully scoops up the papers and puts them on a chair. When the stack can bear no more without toppling, he moves them to the floor, onto sofas, chests and tables, and anywhere he can store them.

I do not want a house decorated in Ancient Headlines. If you want to know what your horoscope was three years ago, we have it. If you have a burning desire to know what the weather was like in '91, we can find it for you. If you want to bet on what movie was No. 1 in 1957, we can settle the argument.

When people visit our home, they notice the stacks of newspapers right away. That is because they have to sit on them.

I have reasoned with him about the fire hazard of having piles of newspapers in the house. I have offered to summarize them in a page so he will feel he hasn't missed anything. I have awakened him from a sound sleep, shoved a newspaper under his nose and ordered, "Wake up and read!"

We were gone last summer for three months. He read a newspaper every day we were gone. When we came home, it was to a stack of newspapers he had ordered be saved.

The other night he looked up and said, "I wonder how this mess in Bosnia is going to be resolved."

"They'll probably assemble everyone in Dayton, Ohio, and try to make peace," I offered.

He shook his head. "That's absurd. The trouble with you is that you skip through the paper and get everything messed up."