Dear Annie: My first husband was a workaholic with little time for me or any enjoyment, so when I divorced and met my current husband, I was thrilled to find such an optimistic, fun-loving man. He is affectionate, extremely clever and a real people person. However, as years go by, he seems to have less and less ambition and isn't doing his fair share to keep us out of debt.
When we first met, he was working two jobs to cover his expenses and pay child support. He now works one job and thinks nothing of knocking off early to go home and watch sports and goof off on the computer.
A large percentage of my personal paycheck is spent covering his insurance, his past-due taxes, his kid's college loan payments, etc. There's little money left for me to get a haircut or have lunch with friends once in a while. I'm now facing some health challenges, and he hasn't stepped up to help me. I'm constantly juggling overdraft notices and selling things to keep us out of hock.
My resentment is starting to destroy any affection I had. I just want to be treated fairly. Seeing as that's not happening, I'm ready to separate. I am self-sufficient and would be better off financially on my own; however, I'm hoping a separation might make him wake up and start doing his fair share.
Am I fooling myself thinking a separation might help him grow up? Do I need to accept that I married Peter Pan? — Overworked Wendy
Dear Wendy: Don't send Peter Pan packing to Neverland just yet. He's fallen into a lazy slump because it's been easy for him to do so, and now he needs a push to get moving again. Being honest and open is your best shot at a happily-ever-after ending.
Tell him that if this marriage is to continue, it needs to start functioning like a true partnership. Perhaps he should pick up a second job again, if that's what it takes to cover his expenses. I would also talk to a financial adviser, as it might be wise to keep your finances separate until he demonstrates that he's ready to grow up. And if that never happens? He can fly away to another couch.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, my son's stepson died very suddenly and tragically. Now my son's wife is in the depths of depression.
She does things to try to feel better, such as going on trips, but when she returns, she seems sadder than ever. She unloads on me out of the blue and makes me feel terrible. I try to help her but end up so upset and feeling down on myself. Then later I hear that she has done something fun, and meanwhile I am still reeling from her tirade of negativity.
My son loves her but is basically living a solitary life. He works 40-plus hours a week but still has to do his laundry, the cooking and other household chores. They have other children, who I don't think are getting adequate attention.
I have offered to do anything I can to help her. I have found grief support classes and offered to pay for them. I have offered to take her to church, but I think she blames God for what has happened. I have spoken with her mother, but she is exasperated also. Nothing in my family can be normal now. I never know whether she is going to show up at a family function, and if she does, I don't know whether I will do something to upset her.
I feel so sorry for everyone. It seems my son and his family are living in a dark, depressing cave. Any suggestions? — Got the Blues
Dear Blues: I am so sorry for your family's loss. Your daughter-in-law is experiencing every parent's worst nightmare. Continue being empathetic and letting her cry on your shoulder, as draining as the roller coaster of emotions may be for you. Spend time with their other children to show them love and attention. Talk to your son about attending marriage counseling specifically for parents who have lost children. Contact the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for more resources.
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Photo credit: Raymond Shobe