DEAR ABBY: I desperately need some advice. I have been married for 12 years to a woman who is very self-centered. Her main concern is her job. She couldn't care less if we live in a pigsty. She feels that her long hours at work excuse her from any home responsibilities.
I realize that people have certain obligations to their jobs, but I have talked to her co-workers who have similar workloads, and most of them get their work done during regular office hours and don't have to stay late.
Abby, I am ashamed to have guests come to our home. She does clean before her co-workers come over, but otherwise she doesn't bother. You can't even get into our bedroom because of wall-to-wall clothes piled all over. And our children are patterning their lifestyles after hers.
I do more than my share around the house. I am the main caregiver to our children, and I'm the one who stays home with them when they're sick.
To make a point, I recently stopped cleaning. Now no one cleans.
I have talked to my wife about this. She assures me she'll do better, but nothing changes. This has begun to affect my feelings for her. I'm very family-oriented, but if changes are not made soon, our marriage may not survive. Do you have a solution for us? -- TIRED OF LIVING IN FILTH, PHILADELPHIA
DEAR TIRED: Your wife may be living under the delusion that she can be "supermom/superwife," juggling marriage, children, career and housework -- but she has dropped the ball. She is fortunate to have such a caring, responsible helpmate as you. However, it is unfair that you should be left to juggle all of the in-home responsibilities.
Since both of you are working, do yourselves a favor and arrange for a cleaning service to help you with the housekeeping responsibilities. The peace of mind will be well worth the financial sacrifice.
DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the letter from the young man whose parents disapproved of his love for an older woman with a child. The parents refused to meet the woman.
I recently received a phone call from Emmet Aanonson of Clearwater, Minn., a dear friend who was married for 53 years to Frances, a woman 17 years his senior. He insists that age has nothing to do with love.
In their youth, it was hard on Emmet and Frances because of family disapproval. His family refused to believe that a good-looking 20-year-old man could really love a 37-year-old woman with two nearly grown children.
Emmet said he did love her -- until her dying day at age 90. I was with them when she died, and he is terribly lonely without her.
At one time, Frances was named outstanding senior citizen of our county. Emmet, who was a long-haul trucker, had told her he wouldn't be with her on her big day. I'll never forget when Frances spotted him at the ceremony, and the loving kiss and hug between them. Emmet had driven all night to be with her. Many times, as Emmet and I were with her at the end of her life, she would fight to come back for him.
I promised Emmet I would write to you for him because he wants that couple to know that love conquers all. -- MARDEL SAMUELSON, CLEARWATER, MINN.
DEAR MARDEL: And I'm printing your letter so that EVERYONE will know it.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600