DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Mel" for 15 years. When Mel's mother became ill with tongue cancer and could no longer speak, we moved her in with us so I could care for her. (I am physically disabled from a job injury and no longer work outside the home.) Mel's mother survived only one more year, but Mel says I did a great job while she was here.
I am now caring for my own mother, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. The problem is, Mel constantly makes snide, hateful, sarcastic remarks about her condition. Then he laughs like it's funny.
I have tried to explain that these statements are destroying my love for him. When I tell him, he stops for a day or two and then starts in again. I don't know how much more I can take. I feel like walking out and never looking back. I want a divorce so bad I could scream.
Why is he doing this? It's not a laughing matter. Please help. -- READY TO LEAVE IN FORT WORTH
DEAR READY TO LEAVE: Why is he doing it? It could be ignorance about mental illness. It could also be selfishness, anger, frustration at having to share your attention -- or maybe he's just childish and mean. Whatever the reason, before you give up the ghost, please consider a caregiver support group and marriage counseling. If he refuses to go with you, you will still gain insight if you go without him.
I consider you to be an unsung hero for what you are doing. You can locate a caregiver support group by contacting the National Family Caregivers Association at (800) 896-3650 or www.nfcacares.org. Do it today.
DEAR ABBY: My 12-year-old daughter is in the sixth grade. She is well-liked and has a lot of friends.
We can't afford gifts for all the birthday parties to which she is invited. I let her go to some, but we can barely pay our bills some months.
When I try to explain why she can't go, she gets upset. I've asked her not to say anything about our money troubles, but she says she can't lie to her friends about why she's not allowed to go to all the parties.
Abby, have you any suggestions on how I can handle this situation when it comes up again? -- INVITED BUT CAN'T ALWAYS GO
DEAR INVITED: Please rethink your stance on this. Having money troubles is not a sign of bad character or a social disease, so please stop trying to sweep it under the rug. Gifts do not have to be expensive to be thoughtful. If your finances are tight, and you can't come up with a gift -- even from a discount store -- explain the fact to the mother of the birthday child. Perhaps your daughter could create a gift for her friend.
DEAR ABBY: A former co-worker recently married for the third time. She remarried her first husband. The wedding was small and many of us received only announcements.
Are we obliged to send gifts? Some of us didn't know how to respond to "just an announcement." -- WONDERING
DEAR WONDERING: There is no obligation to send a gift. However, a congratulatory card or a small token gift to show your support would be a lovely gesture.
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