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Dear Abby: I'm not attracted to my husband. I love him and don't want to live without him, but I do not want to be physically intimate with him. I know it is unfair to him, and I have tried everything from antidepressants to meditation to diet, but nothing works.

I used to have a high libido, but I haven't wanted to have sex with him in years. We do it maybe two or three times a month because I force myself to, but it is unpleasant for me. He doesn't want to guilt me into sex and hates that I force myself, but he has a very high libido.

We are in our mid-20s and I know this is killing him -- and us. I am attracted to some (but very few) others -- just not to him. I have always been more emotionally attracted to women than men, but I don't think that is it. I need help before our marriage starts to crumble.

-- Avoiding it in South Carolina

Dear Avoiding It: I can't wave a magic wand and make you more physically attracted to your husband. I can suggest that the most sensitive sexual organ in a woman's body resides between her ears.

However, I am not qualified to diagnose whether your problem may be of a physical nature. That's why I'm advising you to ask your doctor to perform a thorough physical examination. If he or she finds nothing amiss, ask the doctor -- or your health insurance company -- to refer you to a licensed mental health professional who can help you figure out what's going on.

Neighbor issues

Dear Abby: My husband and I moved to a new town last year and are working on settling in and making friends. Our way has been to accept every invitation offered in hopes of building relationships in this small community.

We recently had dinner at the home of a neighbor couple who were very welcoming, but we quickly realized the four of us have absolutely nothing in common. Making conversation through the meal and coffee taxed all of our small-talk skills, and there were many painful silences. Any foray into current events, family life -- even gardening -- revealed stark differences that brought conversation to a screeching halt. We made an excuse to go home early and sent a thank-you note the next day.

Usually, I think a dinner invitation requires a reciprocal invitation in the future. In this case, I'm wondering if it would be better to just let it go. Would it be rude to not reciprocate, or must I suck it up? If we must have them over, how do I ensure the second dinner goes better than the first? We hope to live here for a long time.

-- Different in the West

Dear Different: Do the right thing and invite the couple for dinner. It does not have to be in your home -- a nice restaurant would do. If the evening was as uncomfortable as you have described, they may not accept your invitation. But if they do, a way to make conversation flow more easily might be to include another couple.

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For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips for Universal Press Syndicate. Write to Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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