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DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have demanding jobs neither of us is crazy about. I sell insurance; she manages a hairdressing salon for a large company. At day's end I keep the events of the day -- good or bad -- to myself. I have heard the saying "Don't bring your family problems to work, and don't bring your work problems home," so I don't carry any "baggage" home with me. If something positive happens, I may mention it.

How do I get my wife to leave her work problems at work? It's the last thing I want to hear about. If I offer an opinion or respond to her, I get criticized and accused of not appreciating how hard she works. She has actually said, "No one else in this world works as hard as I do!" I would like to have an enjoyable evening or weekend with her and not have to hear about HER work problems. -- BAGGAGE-FREE

DEAR BAGGAGE-FREE: There is another saying that may help you to be more understanding: A joy shared is twice a joy; a burden shared is half a burden. If your wife can't discuss her frustrations with you, who else can she safely confide in? A word to the wise: Women often just need someone to listen.

Because this is getting to you to the point that you would write to me about it, rather than offer suggestions or opinions, it's time you tell her exactly what you have conveyed to me. Maybe you can agree on a time when these issues can be discussed -- once you both have decompressed from your demanding jobs.


DEAR ABBY: This is my suggestion for "Unfulfilled Grandma in Minnesota" (Jan. 15), the senior citizen looking to help young children. Schools need help! Contact the local elementary school. Speak with the principal. If the administration agrees with your intentions, you may be required to pay for the background check and fingerprinting.

My story: Our youngest daughter sent me a text. She indicated my grandson's kindergarten teacher was asking for help in the computer lab. Being a retired geek, I showed up the following Thursday, working for just an hour. After three weeks the teacher asked me if I would be willing to help her in the classroom for four hours every Thursday. I agreed. It didn't take my grandson long to figure out he got faster help if he addressed me as "Mr. ----."

After three months, I told my wife it was the best four hours of my week. Without blinking an eye, she smiled and said, "You know, it's the best four hours of my week, too!" Wait? What? -- FULFILLED GRANDPA OUT WEST

DEAR GRANDPA: Thank you for writing. Other readers also suggested that volunteering at a school can be a rewarding way for seniors to put their time to good use and help children. I heard from a "camp grandma" who volunteers at a YMCA summer camp, another who is a reader for 3- and 4-year-olds at a Head Start program, a child care worker in the nursery at a church, and a man who helps to make the children of Afghan refugees feel welcome in their new country through the No One Left Behind organization. Thank you all for these important acts of service, and for sharing the information with me and my readers.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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