DEAR ABBY:

My boyfriend, "Chris," and I were planning on moving in together. We went apartment hunting and created a realistic budget we could both maintain. He was the one who brought up the idea and also the one who pushed it.

Chris is an only child. His parents love him so much I think they will do anything to keep him in their house for as long as they can. (He's 21.) I know I must respect his parents, but I also know Chris really wants to be out on his own but is afraid of them.

I want the best for him and for us. How should I handle this situation without harming the relationship between him and his parents, or me and his parents as well?

- Wanting it in Wisconsin

DEAR WANTING IT: Because Chris is an adult, asking him when he thinks the two of you can live together would be a fair question. However, if it's one he can't answer, you must realize he isn't independent enough to cut the umbilical cord, and you should plan for your future accordingly.

Husband turned cruel

DEAR ABBY: The first 20 years of our marriage were wonderful. My husband was kind, sweet, and generous. Now, he is angry most of the time, and spews rude and hurtful things at me.

When I ask him what's wrong and suggest marriage counseling, he says I am too sensitive or I take things wrong, and there's nothing the matter with our marriage. All I know is, this is not the man I fell in love with, and I don't know how much longer I can tolerate the way he's treating me.

I love my husband. I don't want to divorce him, but I also don't want to continue living this way. Please help.

- Gone Wrong in Ohio

DEAR GONE WRONG: What your husband is doing is cruel, and for him to tell you you're imagining it, frankly, irritates me. I can't fix what's gone wrong in your marriage, but I'm glad to point you in the right direction.

Visit a marriage and family therapist without him and describe what's been happening. Whether the insight you gain will save your marriage is anybody's guess. However, it may give you the strength to do what is best for you, in the present and in the long run.

Playing mall monitors

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I walk the mall most days, and our route usually takes us through a bookstore where we enjoy coffee in the coffee shop attached to it. Every time we go, we see one particular couple sitting there reading the books and magazines but never bothering to buy anything.

The place is not a library. These bookstores are striving to stay alive and make a profit. I'm torn about whether to approach the couple, the management, or let them continue abusing the generosity of the store by never making a purchase.

- Mall Patrol

DEAR MALL PATROL: Do not take it upon yourselves to shame that couple, which could lead to an ugly argument. Your efforts would be better spent if you talked to the store manager about what you have observed and let that person handle it from there. (For all we know, the "offenders" may be Mr. Barnes and Ms. Noble.)