DEAR ABBY: I have been married to "Carla" for 16 years. It's my second marriage. My problem is I never see her. She has always spent more time with her mother than with me. We see each other for about an hour a day after she returns from her mom's, usually at 9:45 to 10 p.m.
I have had several conversations about this with her over the years, but nothing seems to work. We'll argue and she starts to cry, and it ends without a resolution. Her mother is in her mid-80s and has had her share of health problems.
Carla has a sister who could help out, but rarely does. I have had health problems of my own -- a kidney transplant and several bouts of skin cancer -- but she doesn't seem to care as much about my problems as she does her mom's. Her mother even tells her to go home to be with me, to no avail.
I love my wife, but my isolation and loneliness are finally getting to me. How can I convince her that this isn't fair to me or our marriage? How much longer do I take it? -- LONELY IN ILLINOIS
DEAR LONELY: I feel sorry for both of you. Your wife may be trying so hard to be a responsible daughter that she has forgotten you need her, too. Your sister-in-law should have stepped up and started doing her share long ago -- and she still may if you and your wife talk to her about it together.
I don't know what your schedule is like, but you might have more time with Carla if you went with her to your mother-in-law's occasionally. It might also improve your communication if the two of you went for marriage counseling. If Carla's mother has to insist she go home to you, there may be reasons other than her mother's health for Carla's spending so much time away.
Nothing will change until you get to the bottom of it, so don't let your wife's tears prevent you. And if your wife resists seeing a counselor, go without her.