MARRIAGE TO SLOVENLY WIFE BRINGS MAN CLOSE TO TEARSDEAR ABBY: I have been married 40 years, and it's just the two of us. I work full time and make a good living. We have a large house in a great neighborhood.
My problem is my wife. She hasn't worked throughout almost all of our marriage and has to be the laziest person I know. We haven't slept in the same bed for 20 years. She weighs 300 pounds and is always going to diet, but never really does.
She sleeps in her own bedroom with a huge walk-in closet piled up to the top shelf with nice items she refuses to put away. She also has a separate bathroom and living room.
Her section of the house is a pigsty. It stinks to high heaven because she never gets around to cleaning it. The kitchen is worse. She never cooks a meal. Either I do it after cleaning up, or I live off TV dinners.
When it comes to our finances, we're up to our eyeballs in debt. She spends money like it grows on trees. If I ask a simple question, her replies are mean and sarcastic. I would have gotten a divorce a long time ago if I could afford one.
I'm a reasonably good-looking guy. I could have had an affair ages ago, but I wasn't brought up that way. Don't bother saying she should get counseling. According to her, she has no problems.
I am so tired of living the way I do, I could just cry if I thought it would do any good. What do you think? -- BUMMED OUT IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR BUMMED OUT: If your wife is happy living this way, she may be right. She isn't the person with the problem -- you are.
Although she may not be open to counseling, you should have some to help you understand why you have tolerated this one-sided arrangement for 20 years. You say you may not be able to afford a divorce, but if what's driving you to the poorhouse is your free-spending spouse, it would also be in your interest to consult an attorney to find out if it's possible to break that cycle.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a happy, well-adjusted only child who shares and gets along well with others. But a few family members continually comment that they are "surprised" he has these characteristics since he's an only child. They make negative remarks about only children in general and act as though he suffers because he doesn't have siblings.
When they visit, they seem surprised that entertaining multiple people in our home with their children doesn't upset us and isn't unusual. I point out that I have friends who are only children who are happy, well-adjusted, successful adults, yet these relatives continue to make hurtful comments.
At Christmas my sister remarked that she doesn't feel we are a "real" family because we only have one child. I found it hurtful that this intelligent woman would say such a thing. What is the best way to respond to these remarks? I feel like I need to educate, as well as inform them that they need to stop hurting me. -- HAPPY WITH ONE
DEAR HAPPY WITH ONE: A quick start on your road to recovery would be to recognize that the relatives may make those snarky comments because they are jealous. The next time you receive what you interpret to be a criticism because of the size of your small family, tell these people you heard them the first time they made their tasteless remark, and not to repeat it again.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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