DEAR ABBY: I have been married to “Carla” for 16 years. It’s my second marriage. My problem is, I never see her. She has always spent more time with her mother than with me. We see each other for about an hour a day after she returns from her mom’s, usually at 9:45 to 10 p.m.
I have had several conversations about this with her over the years, but nothing seems to work. We’ll argue, and she starts to cry, and it ends without a resolution. Her mother is in her mid-80s and has had her share of health problems.
Carla has a sister who could help out but rarely does. I have had health problems of my own — a kidney transplant and several bouts of skin cancer — but she doesn’t seem to care as much about my problems as she does her mom’s. Her mother even tells her to go home to be with me, to no avail.
I love my wife, but my isolation and loneliness are finally getting to me. How can I convince her that this isn’t fair to me or our marriage? How much longer do I take it? — Lonely in Illinois
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DEAR LONELY: I feel sorry for both of you. Your wife may be trying so hard to be a responsible daughter that she has forgotten you need her, too. Your sister-in-law should have stepped up and started doing her share long ago, and she still may if you and your wife talk to her about it together.
I don’t know what your schedule is like, but you might have more time with Carla if you went with her to your mother-in-law’s occasionally. It might also improve your communication if the two of you went for marriage counseling. If Carla’s mother has to insist she go home to you, there may be reasons other than her mother’s health for Carla’s spending so much time away.
Nothing will change until you get to the bottom of it, so don’t let your wife’s tears prevent you. And if your wife resists seeing a counselor, go without her.
No job but plenty of guilt
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently quit our jobs and moved to London from New York. Being a freelancer and having lived here before, he’s never had trouble finding work. But I have just changed careers, and I’m finding it hard to earn a consistent paycheck.
Despite his constant assurances that he is happy supporting both of us right now, I can’t shake feeling guilty. I have never felt right living on someone else’s dime, not even my parents’ while I was growing up. Should I find a job I don’t exactly love to better contribute or “keep on truckin’” without guilt with hopes of getting there? — Guilty in London
DEAR GUILTY: Because of your history, I’m not sure you are able to happily “keep on truckin’” without contributing financially. For some people, the sense of independence they derive from having a job is important to their self-worth.
I say look around and see whether there are some job openings. It’s better than sitting around moping and feeling guilty, and it might give you and your husband a chance to make some new friends.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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