DEAR ABBY: I'm a 30-year-old man, married a little over three years, and I'm in serious financial trouble. I was laid off from my well-paying job almost two years ago, and I have been struggling to keep my head above water ever since.
I found a job six months later, but had to take a substantial pay cut. In order to make up the difference, I got a part-time job in the evenings, which means I work roughly 15 hours a day. The problem is, my wife gets very upset that I'm not home when the dogs act crazy, the toilet backs up, etc. I try to be sensitive to her needs, but she doesn't even try to understand mine.
When I get home it's usually 9:30, and I am dog tired. If my wife is still awake, she'll dump on me about all the problems she had that night with the house and/or the pets. Then I get blamed because I wasn't home to help.
I have tried to stress that the second job is necessary, and that's when the fireworks begin. She says I need to find a better first job that pays more, but I don't have time to search for one. When I do have free time, I'm catching up on all the stuff I couldn't do during the week.
I have suggested that we tighten our belts (disconnect the cable TV, cancel the Internet, start shopping at discount retail centers), but all she gives me are excuses. She says that since she's home all alone in the evenings, we "need" the cable TV. We also "need" the Internet so she can find materials for her classroom lesson plans (something she hardly does). And she refuses to shop at the discount stores.
I'm at my wit's end and ready to leave the marriage. She can't or won't realize that I'm doing all I can to keep our cars, home, etc. Talking doesn't help. It only leads to more arguments. I seriously need some advice. -- WORN-OUT WORKER IN HOUSTON
DEAR WORN OUT: You and your wife are in two different worlds right now. You are living in a virtual war zone, and she is living in a state of denial. If your marriage is going to survive this rough patch, she needs to do some growing up -- and fast -- before you crack under the stress.
Cable TV and the Internet are luxuries she can forgo in the near term, shopping at discount retail centers is something the majority of the population does right now, and she should dump her frustrations on her girlfriends rather than on you. And if your wife can't make those changes, if only to decrease your stress level for a while, then perhaps it would be better if you took a break from each other until she grows up.