DEAR ABBY: "Ron" and I have been married 20 years and have two children. Recently, he called me a "freeloader" and described my parenting as "half-assed." It's not the first time I've heard it from him.
I work part-time so I can have a flexible schedule and be home with our kids after school. Ron earns considerably more than I do, although I inherited money from my father that will provide security for our kids regardless of our incomes.
I think I'm a great mom. Our kids are healthy and well-adjusted. Although I don't need my husband's salary to live comfortably, I appreciate the good life his work affords us, and I do what I can to show it.
I do, however, expect Ron to participate in raising our kids and contribute to the running of our household. I think it's important, and I have work responsibilities and volunteer in our community. Ron says I do far less than "most of my friends" (who don't work), that he does a lot more around the house than the dads he knows and he resents it because he makes so much more money than I do.
How much is fair to expect him to do to help with our kids and home life? How can I get him to see how much hurt his name-calling and disrespect causes? -- NOT A FREELOADER
DEAR NOT A FREELOADER: Every marriage is unique, which is why your husband should not compare himself to other dads and you to their wives. I find it odd that the husband of a working wife -- and mother -- would resort to name-calling and accuse you of freeloading. Of course Ron should participate in his children's lives. That's what being a father is all about.
Marriage is supposed to be a partnership. Helping with housework sets a good example for the kids. If the two of you can't work out a compromise without name-calling, you should at least agree to have a licensed marriage counselor mediate the discussion.
DEAR ABBY: I have a relative who has just been released from prison and is living with me and my family. He was incarcerated for more than 20 years for drugs.
It breaks my heart to say that he has relapsed and could be heading back down that same road. My mother doesn't want a drug addict in her house. She told him to make other living arrangements, and he has agreed to stay with other relatives where there are more job opportunities.
I feel guilty and my mother does, too. But she refuses to go through what she experienced during her childhood with this person. Is this the right thing to do? -- RELAPSE IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR RELAPSE: Yes! Your mother has made her feelings clear to this relative. Living with a drug addict is chaotic, and if she doesn't want to repeat the unpleasant and possibly traumatic experience, she shouldn't have to.
By getting him out of the house she is taking care of herself, and for that she shouldn't feel guilty. However, because she does, it might help her -- and you -- to attend some Nar-Anon meetings. The group was founded in 1967 and its mission is to provide emotional support to families and friends of addicts. To locate a meeting nearby, visit nar-anon.org or call toll-free (800) 477-6291.
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