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Wife is second-class citizen in own home

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for five years. My husband and I are both past middle age and have been married before (me twice; three times for him). For much of our early marriage, my husband was ill. He required several surgeries and a lot of care. I never complained or felt burdened, yet the smallest ache or pain I have is, apparently, a “pain” for him.

As time has gone on, there are some things in our marriage that I frankly don’t understand. We celebrate Father’s Day and his birthday, but never Mother’s Day or my birthday. My husband is sweet and charming to everyone, but often ignores or becomes very angry with me.

He has called me things he promised never to say. He makes excuses for not wanting to do things together. He spends upward of 12 hours a day outside and seems to want to avoid me. He defends his friends when they say disrespectful things about me, citing the fact that he “doesn’t want to lose old friends.” He believes that whatever is said by others – friends, family, etc. – is my problem and I should just accept it. We have seen a marriage counselor and it has not helped us. Help me understand, please. – Undervalued in Nebraska

DEAR UNDERVALUED: From your description, your husband is selfish, self-centered, lacks the ability to empathize or nurture and would rather allow his “friends” to disrespect the woman he married than confront them. (What a prize!) I hope you felt some psychic gratification from taking care of him when he so badly needed it, because it appears that is all you are going to get from this relationship.

My question for you is: How long are you willing to tolerate being treated this way? Many women would prefer to be alone than living the life you are. You deserve better than what you have been getting, and I sincerely hope you will have the courage to go for it.

DEAR ABBY: My youngest son and his wife invited me to come live with them in Colorado. I am 68 and retired, and was struggling to survive financially (and physically) and maintain my home in Washington state. It made sense to sell it and move into their spacious house with them.

My son was laid off from his job and has been seeking employment. He received an offer from a company in Pennsylvania. I’m about to receive a large amount of cash from the sale of my home, more money than I’ve ever had at one time. My son came to me last evening and asked me to lend him all of it for a down payment on a house in Pennsylvania. He says he will pay it back once his house in Colorado sells. He figures it could take six months to pay it back.

My alarm bells are ringing, and I honestly don’t know how to respond. I believe he has my best interests at heart, but I’m hesitant to give him every penny. Am I being silly? He has never given me reason to doubt him. – Big Changes Happening

DEAR CHANGES: Discuss this matter with an attorney right now. If you decide to give a portion of the money you receive from the sale of your home in Washington for a down payment on your son’s home in Pennsylvania, you should have plenty left over for yourself. But whatever agreement you make should be in a legal document in writing. It is not “silly” to want to protect yourself. In fact, it is very wise. Listen to your gut.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.