Dear Abby: My partner and I have been together 12 years. I love him dearly. He is sweet, funny, witty, kind, and most important, willing to live with me. I can't imagine life without him.

The problem is, he has no common sense. He doesn't "get" that dishes we cook and eat with should not be used for feeding the cats. If the toilet runs over (we have old plumbing), my best bath towels should not be used to clean up the mess when there's a mop in the closet. If we're out of cat food, he should go to the supermarket and buy some, not open the can of goose liver pate we brought back from Paris. That sort of thing.

The immediate cause of my annoyance is if you have two credit cards, one with a 7 percent interest rate, the other with a 21 percent interest rate, you don't put a $2,000 purchase on the card with the higher interest rate.

My partner is 42, but sometimes I feel like I'm the parent of a 4-year-old. If I say anything, he accuses me of being a "control freak." I don't consider myself one, but I just don't want my favorite punch bowl used as a bucket. Any ideas before I shoot the both of us? — Ready to Scream, Groveland, Fla.

Dear Ready to Scream: Until they start cloning couples, there will always be one more responsible person in a relationship. Because your partnership has lasted as long as it has, I'm sure he has his strengths, too, that are different from yours.

Because you already know the state of your plumbing, stash a supply of rags or old, faded towels in your linen closet and show them to him, so that when another emergency occurs, he will be able to locate them quickly. Transfer your fine china and crystal to a cabinet that's less convenient to reach — perhaps even one with a lock — so it won't be so available when the livestock gets hungry.

And warn your partner in advance that certain items — like pate — are only for special occasions. Also, consider transferring your balance from the high-interest credit card, or keeping it in a safety deposit box.

If all that fails, remind yourself what it was like back on the dating circuit. If that doesn't make you count his virtues, nothing will.

Dear Abby: I have a friend, "Bob," who has a strange sense of humor. A lot of people don't find him funny, and this time I'm afraid he's gone too far.

His most recent prank was to fake his own death. Bob even went so far as to submit a fake obituary. The problem is we have mutual friends in other states who are convinced he is dead and are pretty shaken up about it.

I want to tell everyone the truth, but I know Bob will see it as a betrayal. I don't want to hurt our relationship, but I hate to see our friends in pain. What should I do? — Dilemma in Dallas

Dear Dilemma: Your "friend" has a cruel and twisted sense of humor, and if you are wise, you'll distance yourself from him. Not only has he hurt people who care about him, but if he has done this to avoid paying taxes or other financial obligations, it is fraud.

Since you asked, you should inform anyone who inquires that Bob is still very much among them — and advise them to give him a call when you know he'll be picking up.

P.S.: If someone did that to me, I'd pretend he WAS dead.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate