Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our mid-20s, have been married for five years and have two children. We are both full-time students with jobs. My job is full time and his is part time. However, our responsibilities at home are split so that I do 95.5 percent of everything, and he does what’s left. My husband refuses to look for a full-time job and seems quite content being in debt and struggling to pay bills.
He also refuses to create a budget and won’t read any articles I bring home on the subject of communication in marriage. He declines all suggestions of family time or date nights. He prefers to be alone, and that includes sleeping by himself.
I feel stuck. Is this a phase that will pass? Should I get a divorce? When we married, we said it was forever, but that was when he promised that everything would be split 50/50 and that we would share our lives. What do I do?
— Young and Stuck
Dear Young: This is not a phase that will pass. This is what your husband is going to be like as long as he can get away with it. The fact that he prefers to sleep alone indicates that there is more going on than an uneven split in household chores.
Get some counseling, preferably with your husband, but without him, if necessary. Find out what you can change, what you cannot and what you are willing to live with.
Dear Annie: I have been married for eight years and knew my husband for four years before that. The problem is my stepchildren.
Whenever there is a family function, invitations are addressed to my husband only, as if I don’t exist. My husband’s children always buy him gifts for his birthday and holidays, but I get a gift from one or two of them, and the rest ignore me. I sign everything, “Dad and Mary” or “Grandpa Bob and Grandma Mary,” but the thank-you always goes to “Dad” or “Grandpa.” His grown children are nice to me, but I am not included in anything. Even on the wedding invitation from his son, it was addressed to “Bob Jones and Family.”
I have children of my own, and they would never dream of treating their stepdad like this. Am I being too sensitive? I am at the point where I don’t want to participate in any more birthday parties, holidays or anything else that involves getting together with his kids.
I have tried so hard to get them to like me. I met their Dad after his marriage was over, and his wife had cheated on him. They treat their stepdad great. So why do I get this treatment? I don’t think it’s ever going to get any better. Am I right to say forget about them?
— Feel Left Out
Dear Feel: We think the kids like you well enough, but they aren’t entirely comfortable with your position. And where their mother no doubt insists that they treat her husband with respect, your husband doesn’t seem to be demanding the same. He needs to tell his kids that notes and invitations to the two of you need to be addressed that way, and that your special occasions should be recognized with at least a card. Meanwhile, we hope you can handle some of this with humor instead of bitterness. It will help.
Dear Annie: I was taken back by “Betsey’s” response to “Concerned Mother.” To this day, I send my mother a text telling her I am home when returning from a trip. This is something I have done since I was a latchkey kid, all the way through college and now as a 33-year-old working mom. It gives both of us peace of mind. My 42-year-old husband does the same thing. We do not feel suffocated. It’s just what we do when we know others love us.
— Latchkey Mom
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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