DEAR ABBY: I'd like to respond to your column regarding women who make more money than their husbands. While it may not be the norm for a wife to earn a higher income, it should not enter into the equation of a happy marriage.
When I met my husband 23 years ago, I was a successful business woman. He was a carpenter. He was also a man of character -- and the man of my dreams. When we decided to marry, he informed me that money was not a priority for him. Money was not an issue for me, either. I decided then and there I could always support us if need be.
We are both self-employed. Over the past 23 years, I have out-earned him 4-to-1. What I have received from him is a best friend, a terrific father who has time to coach our kids' sports teams, and a life partner with an army of loyal friends he's had time for and brought into our relationship.
My husband can build anything. He designed and built our home, as well as play structures, soccer fields and sandboxes for our local schools. When the sprinkler system at the softball field needed rebuilding -- he was there. He does all of this for no pay, because he has the ability, the time and the heart.
I am in sales, and I manage my job so well I can be home by 3 each afternoon to spend time with our children. Their dad does most of the laundry and shopping, while I clean and manage the kids' schedules. We enjoy a good life with our priorities in order, even though the balance of money-making is nontraditional.
After 23 years, my husband is still the companion I want with me in any situation. If I were stranded on a desert island or crashed in the mountains of Chile, he could do anything and would make sure everyone was safe. I married my dream man, and it doesn't matter that he's not the primary "breadwinner." It's character that counts in a marriage. Anyone can earn money. -- GRATEFUL WIFE, FAIR OAKS, CALIF.
DEAR GRATEFUL WIFE: No amount of money could buy what you and your husband share -- love and mutual respect.
DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter from "Marylou in Houston" about the pain of placing a child for adoption. When I went through this experience, I wrote a poem. You have my permission to print it if you think it will help others to understand the roller-coaster emotions a birth mother goes through making this decision. -- LISA BOTE-PHILLIPS, ALASKA
DEAR LISA: I certainly do think it will help. You said it very well:
ON THE WINGS OF A PRAYER
by Lisa Bote-Phillips
I set you free on the wings of a prayer
To fly through life in His tender care,
You're free from the nest and the ties that are bound
Free from the pressures I carry around.
If I kept you I'd only be cutting your wings,
Not offering the chance a true family brings.
The decision I've made has my heart torn in two,
But I know what I'm doing is the best thing for you.
The sky is so vast, the mountains so high
Take wing and remember: I love you.
DEAR ABBY: I have just become engaged. We're in the midst of wedding planning and choosing a date. I would like to be married on Nov. 15, 2003, because it's before the holiday season and a great time to take a honeymoon cruise.
My problem: My twin sister married her high school sweetheart 16 years ago on Nov. 16. When I mentioned the date I was considering, she got upset and said, "You're not getting married on MY wedding weekend!" My fiance agrees with her. He thinks we would be encroaching on their wedding anniversary if we got married mid-November.
My sister's husband, on the other hand, is in favor of us being married on Nov. 15. He thinks it is a good time to tie the knot because it was lucky for them, and after all, there would be an 18-year difference in the wedding anniversaries.
I view my sister's reaction as demonstrating a twinly competitiveness I thought we had outgrown long ago. Can you advise me? -- KAREN IN VIRGINIA
DEAR KAREN: While you may have thought the "twinly competitiveness" was dead, it seems it was only napping. Although I consider your sister's attitude childish, it's up to you to decide how important her objection is to you -- and whether going ahead with the wedding date you have chosen is worth the resentment it may cause in her relationship with you. Only you can make that decision.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married almost 10 years. We have two active boys, ages 6 and 2. We haven't been on a trip by ourselves since our first son was born. Our marriage has suffered because of it. Our marriage counselor told us that we MUST have time alone away from the kids at least once a month in order to preserve our marriage.
We live in the same town as my mother. I would love for her to care for my children once in a while, but she has never volunteered. If I ask her to baby-sit with the boys, she says things like, "We'll see" or, "They won't be able to stay long." This hurts me, Abby, and my husband is furious about it.
My husband's mother is deceased. There are no other family members to help out. We have always hired baby sitters, but it gets expensive. The worst part is, the kids love their grandmother dearly and beg us to let them visit her.
My mother is still young and in good health. She works only part time. I do not understand why she doesn't enjoy tending her grandchildren, because they really are wonderful kids. I would love to confront her, but I know she would become defensive, and it would lead to hurt feelings for both of us.
This has become a major stumbling block for me and my family and is straining my relationship with them. Any time she calls us for help, we quickly respond with our services. Please offer some suggestions so that I can discuss this with her without making the situation worse. -- TIRED IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TIRED: I understand your need to get away, but baby sitting your children is not your mother's responsibility. She obviously does not have the time and/or the desire to do so, or she would jump at the chance.
Talk to your counselor about your relationship with your mother. You and your husband may expect too much from her. Let her off the hook. Find a qualified baby sitter, and ask your mother to visit your children while you are gone.
Pauline Phillips and her daughter Jeanne Phillips share the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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