DEAR ABBY: I am a 28-year-old mother of three. I have been married to their father, "Carl," for eight years.
Every two years, Carl decides he no longer wants to be a family man and packs up and leaves. When he goes, he leaves me destitute. I am a stay-at-home mom with only a high school degree.
Carl feels he should have to give us money only after his own needs and wants have been taken care of, and then only the amount he chooses. The most he will dole out is $50 to $100 at a time.
This time when he left, I warned him I'd file for child support. We were on speaking terms, and he said he loved me and wanted us to reunite. That was until he was served with the support papers. Now he refuses to return my calls until I drop the suit. I love Carl, but I can't let him withhold support from our children. He has a good job, so there is no reason for this.
Am I unreasonable? Should I drop the suit? I want our family back together, but I'm afraid he'll leave again. What should I do? -- NEEDS SUPPORT IN TEXAS
DEAR NEEDS SUPPORT: For the sake of your children, do not allow yourself to be manipulated or emotionally blackmailed. Take your cues from your lawyer. Once a fair amount of child support has been established in a court of law or by mediation, offer Carl the option of marriage counseling. If he's sincere about wanting to reconcile, he will agree.
If he returns, I urge you to use that opportunity to go back to school and prepare yourself to be financially independent. I have said this many times before: No one's future is guaranteed. If something should happen to your husband, you may need to be the breadwinner. So be prepared.