DEAR ABBY: "Frustrated in Philly" (Jan. 14) wrote that he is burnt out from working two jobs because his wife, "Darla," is preoccupied with material things and "likes to keep up with the Joneses." He said they've been married 10 years and have three kids, and although she promises to get a job and help with the bills, it never happens.
Your advice to "Frustrated" should have included, "Sell some of your toys, quit one of your jobs, and spend more time at home with the family before you have a heart attack! Do not kill yourself to please a taker." -- JOHN C., SAGINAW, MICH.
DEAR JOHN C.: I told "Frustrated in Philly" that in his wife's view, his role is to support her in the manner to which she aspires, regardless of its effect on him -- and that he should offer her the option of marriage counseling or consult a lawyer. However, not all of my readers viewed the situation in the same light that you and I did. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I'm sad that you thought the wife who kept developing "mysterious illnesses" and failing to find a job was totally selfish and perceived her husband's role as "to support her in the manner to which she aspires" while her own role was simply "to enjoy it." Speaking from experience, I think her problem may be fear.
After an eight-year career, I was a stay-at-home mom for nine years. By the time I thought about going back to the work force, my confidence had been nearly destroyed (because my husband was so controlling and hypercritical), and it made me afraid to try.
In spite of my husband's disapproval, I joined a direct sales company and struggled to succeed. Because of my low self-esteem, it was like trying to climb a mountain with a boulder on my shoulder. I am still with that company, but no longer with my (ex) husband, and I am finally very happy.
I'm afraid your answer to the husband will make him continue to be angry and confrontational. If only he'd stop trying to force her to get a job and talk to her about what's best for the whole family's future, there might be some hope. He could say: "Honey, we're on the same team. I'm afraid that working two jobs is ruining my health. If there's a reason why going back into the work force scares you, let's talk about it." -- JERSEY GIRL
DEAR ABBY: "Frustrated" should not have to work two jobs just to keep up with his wife's spending. Marriage counseling is a good start, but there may be something more serious going on. It seems to me like his wife's behavior could be a sign of severe depression or bipolar disorder. It's worth checking out. -- HOLLY IN COLORADO
DEAR ABBY: I would remind "Frustrated" that raising three children under the age of 10 is a full-time job, even if it doesn't pay financially. Also, would a woman who has not worked outside the home in at least 10 years be able to get a job that pays enough to offset the cost of child care now that Mom's not home?
"Frustrated" needs to sit down with his wife, decide on mutual financial goals, and develop a budget. If sticking to a budget is impossible for her, then maybe he needs to take control of the finances, cut up the credit cards, and put his wife on an allowance to cover household expenses. Finances are one of the most common reasons for marital strife. I hope that couple can reach a compromise. -- JENNIFER IN FLORIDA