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DEAR ABBY: I am very concerned for my henpecked son who is expecting his first child. He works long hours (50-plus a week) at a low-paying job with an hour commute. His wife works part-time (10 hours a week). The problem is, their tiny apartment is a pigsty, and she doesn't clean or pick up. She expects him to do it all, and he tries to, while she reads and makes baby quilts.
How do I tactfully get her to do her share now, before the baby comes and she expects my son to "help her" even more? He is totally overburdened, stressed out, but seemingly happy. Until I saw the condition of their apartment I had suspected it was bad, but had no idea how bad the situation really was.
- Despairing mom in Connecticut
DEAR DESPAIRING MOM: Not knowing your daughter-in-law, I can't judge whether she is lazy, or whether the reason she isn't doing more around the apartment is pregnancy-related. You say your son is happy. Be GRATEFUL for that. Rather than "tactfully getting her to do her share," why not volunteer to help them until your grandchild is on a regular sleep schedule? It would make you appear to be an angel instead of critical, and bring the three of you a lot closer than you appear to be. However, if your offer is refused, then accept that this is how your son and daughter-in-law prefer to live.
DEAR ABBY: I spent tonight in a parking lot, knowing I had no options. My husband of 25 years is an alcoholic and abusive. I have two teenage children at home. I'm in bad health and haven't worked in decades. I'm trapped.
I have the typical arguments with my daughter. My son is a gem who stays home because he doesn't want to leave us with his father. It's a sad situation.
While catching up on reading Dear Abby tonight, I saw a number for an abuse hotline where they will help me with a plan to leave. I have no money, no chance of getting a job. But that number gave me a glimmer of hope. It seems too good to be true, but I'll make that call. Thank you, Abby.
- Beaten down in Texas
DEAR BEATEN DOWN: I'm glad you are making that call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Part of the reason you feel so hopeless and "beaten down" is that for so many years your abuser chipped away at your self-esteem.
For any other reader who may have missed that column and needs the toll-free phone number, it is 800-799-7233.
DEAR ABBY: My good friend "Claire" has two daughters, 8 and 10. Her younger daughter is the same age as my daughter and they are very close. We spend a lot of time with them and have the girls at our house often.
After the last sleepover, my daughter commented that the sisters argue all the time and it's not fun having them over anymore. She would like to invite only the younger daughter for a sleepover, but we have put off asking as we are afraid of hurting the older daughter's feelings by not including her. Actually, I'm afraid it might hurt the mother's feelings, too. What's the best way to invite only one sibling?
- Sleepover nightmare
DEAR S.N.: If the girls are arguing when they're at your house, you can bet it's happening at home, too. Talk to Claire and explain what happened and your daughter's reaction. The older girl should be interacting/socializing with friends of her own.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.