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DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for 17 years. The drawback is he's a workaholic. We have not spent even one day together doing something fun in more than 10 years.

We both work full-time and live on a small farm. My husband is a carpenter. He collects tractors and works hay fields all summer long. Because he comes in late each evening, I often eat dinner alone. On weekends, he's working on his tractors or cutting and baling hay.

I do see him a bit more during the winter months, but he thinks it's a waste of time and money to go somewhere nice for dinner or take a weekend getaway. When I do travel, it is with my siblings because my husband prefers to stay home and work.

I love him, but I'm beginning to feel like I am not his top priority. I am lonely for his companionship. I just don't know how to handle this. He's pretty set in his ways. Help. -- WITHERING IN WISCONSIN

DEAR WITHERING: A husband who is unwilling to devote time to his wife doesn't sound "wonderful" to me. Perhaps you should consider having a snack after you return from work, so you can have dinner with him when he comes in.

You appear to have a communication problem. Tell him what you want, and don't be shy about it. Say you love him but need more of him than he has given you for a long time. He needs to know his wife feels she's playing second fiddle to his tractor collection. If he is unwilling to listen, then you will have to evaluate whether you want to spend the rest of your life "withering."


DEAR ABBY: I am married to a successful mental health professional, and I applaud how you recommend therapy or counseling when it is called for. I have noticed that some of your readers have written, "I tried it already, but it didn't work." To these people, my husband always says:

"Therapists are like shoes. Sometimes you need to try on a few before you find a good fit. And, like shoes, you can grow out of them and need new ones. Sometimes you need a more appropriate pair that matches a different lifestyle. (You wouldn't go running in high heels, or wear flip-flops to business meetings.)

"Ask to talk to potential therapists before hiring one. Ask questions. Get a feel for their personality and style. Ask how they might treat different issues and what types of therapy they practice, and inquire about sliding-scale fees if money is an issue. If a therapist's style doesn't match your needs, ask for a referral to someone else who might be a better fit."

Abby, please encourage your readers not to give up. There is help out there for everyone. -- MATT IN MARYLAND

DEAR MATT: I like your spouse's analogy and suggestions for finding a psychotherapist who's a good fit. Thank you for taking the time to write and share the wisdom.

Read more in: Mental Health

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