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Lifestyle

Ask Amy

Employment problems don’t bode well

Q. I have been married to my husband for two years. I am happy with our marriage and with how I am treated, but he can’t seem to hold a job. He has been hired countless times and has lost every job. I am currently in school and we moved in with his parents to make it easier on me, since I hold the bills.

My side of the family seems to think that I am being mistreated and that my husband has no respect for me, because he “makes me work.”

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Sometimes I feel this way, but I see him as my soul mate, and I just don’t see how having a bad job history should influence who I decide to stay with for the rest of my life.

I have expressed my feelings to him and he listens. He also treats me well, cooks and cleans the house when I ask. Should I be worried that I am being mistreated?

A. You and your husband exist in an in-between place where you are adults, but not living a fully independent and adult life. Your parents consider your relationship to be “fair game” and thus can weigh in on it.

You do not mention why your husband can’t keep a job. Does he have chronic problems — a drug/drinking habit, lateness, or a mental or emotional issue — that make him unemployable?

And if you are going to school and he is not occupied, is there a reason he needs to be prompted to do housework?

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Your parents likely look at this pattern of patchy employment and bills piling up and worry about the effect on you. You should listen to them respectfully, but if you feel good about your marriage, you will have to reassure them.

Unless your husband shows efforts to either successfully commit to being a working man or a competent house husband while you work, then this unstable pattern will continue and will wear you both down.

Q. I need suggestions on how to deal with my father. I’m considering cutting off all contact, but am not sure he’d even notice.

Dad is in his 70s and has a live-in girlfriend. She has done nothing but alienate my siblings and me since they have been together. It hurts so much knowing that my father doesn’t miss having his kids and grandkids in his life.

We all live over an hour away, so when we do get home we’d like to spend time with Dad. He doesn’t make time for us.

I’m not sure I can take another afternoon of hearing about how wonderful their last get-together was with her kids and grandchildren, when we’ve never met them and aren’t invited. I don’t want to call or visit because I’m left feeling so heartbroken.

It has been years since Dad has expressed an interest in visiting any of us (or his grandchildren), and I at least have stopped bringing it up to avoid the rejection.

A. Your father got a life, and you feel left out and lonely. I can see how tough this would be for you and your siblings — especially if your mother is gone (you don’t say).

Your father is not being sensitive to you, so you will have to express yourself honestly to him, while also changing your approach to be more positive and proactive.

The way into your father’s sightline may be though his girlfriend. You should express an interest in meeting her family and also invite her to bring your dad to visit you. If you are able to successfully blend your families, you (and all the kids) could benefit.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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