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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Resents Man's Failure to Pick Up Slack at Home

DEAR ABBY: The other day my kids asked me why I'm always so angry. I didn't know how to respond. I'm angry that they think their dad is "wonderful" because he plays with them all day (he's not working), takes them to get fast food (instead of cooking something healthy), and because he's their coach (he is having an emotional affair with one of the parents).

I assign chores to the kids because things never get done when I ask my husband to do them. If I remind them "It's trash day" or "Don't forget to vacuum the living room," my husband steps in and says, "I'll do it for you, Billy/Jane," which makes me the bad guy. I know if I ask for a divorce, the kids will want to live with him.

How do I explain this to them? And what do I tell my friends when they ask what a pretty, fit, successful woman like me is doing with an overweight, unemployed, lazy man like him? He's more personable than I am, but the stress of being the sole breadwinner has taken its toll on me. -- NEEDING ANSWERS, LEVITTOWN, PA.

DEAR NEEDING ANSWERS: You're overwhelmed right now, and with the load you're carrying, it's no wonder. You, your husband and the children are overdue for a frank sit-down chat.

It would not be out of line to tell them that the reason you appear to be angry is you are doing it all -- carrying the load financially and being the responsible parent. It would also not be out of line to let them know that every member of the family is expected to do their part, which is why you have assigned them chores -- because Dad is too busy coaching to remember to do it.

As to the fast-food diet, your husband is doing the children -- and himself -- no favors, and he is setting a terrible example.

Now, about your friends: Be honest. Tell them that you married your husband because you loved him at the time, and you are sticking with it because if you dump him, you may wind up supporting him anyway.