DEAR ABBY: I am a full-time working woman, part-time student and new wife to an incredible husband. We're in our mid-20s and have been living together for a year, but I have a problem that I'm still unsure about.

Growing up I never learned to cook.

The first meal I ever made was spaghetti when my husband (then fiance) and I moved into our home.

My issue is, I hate cooking. I don't have the patience for it and neither does my husband.

Should I be ashamed that I indulge in "box" dinners that take little time to prepare?

Naturally, I cook meat and vegetables to go along with them, but is it shameful when a wife doesn't cook everything from scratch?

My husband doesn't mind, but I worry. Shouldn't a wife cook real meals for her husband?

- New Wife in North Carolina

DEAR NEW WIFE: Because many couples both work, many husbands and wives take turns cooking or preparing dinner together. ("Honey, I'll do the salad and vegetables; you fix the chicken/fish/chops on the grill.")

The problem with prepackaged meals is that many of them contain more sodium and/or other additives that nutritionists say are bad for one's health when consumed on a regular basis, so I think you do have cause for concern.

The most important ingredient in a lasting marriage is a partner who lasts, so if you want yours to last, be vigilant about what you put in your stomachs.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.