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Q: Last year I married my girlfriend of five years. She had a very important rule about finances before we got married: If I was carrying a lot of debt, we would postpone the wedding. I have always been very bad with money and she is a financial wizard, so this is a big sore point in our lives. Even though I knew she was right to have her rule, I lied and told her that I had my debt under control. Well, we just started looking for a house, and I felt that I had to come clean. Unfortunately, she beat me to it, deciding that we should consolidate our debt and asking me to see all my bills. Financially, we are getting through this huge rift, but emotionally, I have destroyed the first months of our married life. I meant all my vows, but my wife has lost her trust in me. How can I rebuild what I've destroyed? —Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

A: "Oops, I tricked you into marrying me!" In one lying swoop, you threw everything you say into question, from "pass the salt" to "I got stuck at the office." ("Yeah, stuck between two naked secretaries," mutters your wife.) Like Steve Austin, bad credit, and dropped china, trust can be repaired. But, while you can Krazy Glue the little blue men harvesting wheat on the Spode plate back together again, the cracks will never go away. Still, maybe you can minimize the worry lines around your wife's eyes if you work really hard for years and years to prove that you aren't the lying cad she married. First, stop mewling about standing behind your wedding vows. Which part of them, exactly, were you standing behind? — the adverbs? Obviously, you were out sneaking a smoke during the part of the ceremony where the dude in the collar talks about joining two people into one. Then again, this would have been an exceptionally bad time to divulge your telephone relationships with all those young ladies at the collection agencies. It's time to come clean. Completely clean. This can't be the only lie you've told. Lies are like cockroaches. Where there's one, there are usually thousands more doing the hula around the plumbing. Admit to your wife that you've been a man who treats reality like Spandex. There's something of the 5-year-old in your behavior; the kid who has a food fight with the family dog, then chirps "Not me!" when mummy asks, "Who plastered my ceiling with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese!?" Duh. Reality is a brick wall, babycakes. Make a commitment to yourself and to your wife to treat it as such — not as something you can bend whenever you need to hide exactly how much you've Mastered The Possibilities. Finally, clean up after your own mess. Don't make your wife work to pay off your debts. Get out there on the highway in your hot pants, selling lemonade on the weekends. Do whatever it takes to get the two of you off the American Express train and into a little something with a white picket fence; someplace your wife can put up her feet without worrying that the ottoman under them might be repossessed at any moment.

Q: I have been dating my boyfriend for six years and I am getting frustrated by his lack of energy toward commitment. He is 44 years old and lives with his parents. When I visit him on weekends he spends maybe an hour or two with me and he always cuts it short. I suggest we go to a private place, but he always has some excuse why we can't. When he and I do spend a few hours together, he dislikes having any communication about love, sex, relationships and the like. If I am unable to visit him on weekends, he does not call. His mind is absorbed with his hobbies — farming, fishing, hunting, eating and sleeping. I am the least of his concerns. Is there any hope of a turnaround? —Dejected

A: You could have spent the past six years writing unpublishable fiction, building an addition onto your garage out of thousands of empty matchbooks or digging an extremely short subway tunnel under your front yard. Instead, you've spent that time pleading for a commitment from an oversized lawn gnome who still bunks with Mommy and Daddy. Not only does this guy sound unwilling to commit to you; it sounds as if he'd rather do just about anything than be with you. If you find this treatment appealing, you should stop bathing, and men and women by the dozen will avoid your company. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com

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