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Dear Abby: My problem may not seem important, but I assure you it could end my marriage.

My husband started to grow a beard shortly after we were married 18 years ago. He has always known that I hate it. He looks like a bum. It wasn't nearly so bad when he first started to grow it - but now that he is older, his beard is white, and it makes him look like an old man. I hate kissing him because his beard irritates my face.Of course, I no longer find him physically attractive. If he had had a beard when we first met, I would not have even considered dating him.

Abby, I might be able to tolerate a short, neatly trimmed beard, but his is scraggly and not nicely shaped. I suggested letting a barber trim it, but he said, "No way."

Even though I am no longer attracted to my husband, I would have no problem being attracted to other men. I am intelligent, well-educated, and I am the same weight I was when we got married. Please don't suggest counseling. My husband would never go. I wish other women would write in and let you know how they feel about beards.

- St. Paul Wife

Dear Wife: I'm glad you asked. I am an expert on beards. Some of the most famous men in the world had beards: Jesus, Sigmund Freud, Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Smith Brothers - who coughed up a fortune. My husband has a beautiful beard. But he keeps his neatly trimmed and immaculate - and I love it!

Dear Abby: My daughter, "Kim," is graduating from high school this year. I have already made arrangements for her graduation party. (I rented a park grove, arranged for use of the swimming pool, food, etc.) Kim is an only child. Her father and I have been divorced since she was 4 and we are both remarried. Her father and stepmother have just adopted a newborn; my husband and I have no other children. Both households are above average in income.

Money has always been an issue between Kim's father and me, and I am always the one who winds up paying. Therefore, I am now faced with the following problem: Kim wants to invite her dad and all of the relatives from his side to her graduation party. From past experience, I am very hesitant to ask her dad to split the costs for the party, as he has never been fair with me in the past, and I end up paying for everything. Her father has already told her that since I am throwing a graduation party, he's not having one for her. I can understand her wanting everyone to be there for this event, but I'm afraid that I'll feel resentful toward these people because of her dad not wanting to be involved financially.

- Graduation Glitch in Pittsburgh

Dear Graduation Glitch: Much depends on how many relatives from her father's side Kim wants to invite - and whether they have maintained a relationship with you since the divorce. If they are numerous but distant, it wouldn't be out of line to ask him to split the bill.

Ask him in the presence of your daughter. And if he refuses, shelve the resentment for one afternoon and give Kim the graduation party she deserves.