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Dear Abby 1/19

Another child won't solve problems in rocky marriage

DEAR ABBY: I'm active-duty military but retiring within a year with no plans for future employment as yet. My wife is 38 and I am 39. We have three children, ages 20, 18 and 15.
    My wife has the urge to have another child, but I don't want to have another one. I have been looking forward to the time we would have alone with each other. I also know that our debt-to-income ratio is poor, and I was looking forward to climbing out of the red. Another child will not help things.
    Our relationship has been rocky for the past four years — and up and down most of our 19 years of marriage. However, we always managed to bounce back.
    I'm afraid if I don't give in to another child, it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and she'll resent me to the point that we won't be able to get over it. We are in counseling, but it hasn't seemed to help. We are told to "compromise," but I don't know how to compromise over a situation like this. I'd do anything for her, but I just feel like this isn't the right thing for us to do at this point in our lives.
    Please help me keep this family together and still make everyone happy. I really need your help. -- ROCK AND A HARD PLACE IN VIRGINIA
    DEAR ROCK: Babies are blessings, but they can also stress a troubled marriage past the breaking point. Perhaps it's time you went for a different kind of counseling — financial counseling. A financial counselor should be able to tell you if you can afford another child, and what the sacrifices will be if you do decide to have one.
    Your marriage has always been troubled. I'm not sure you can keep your family together and make everyone happy. Three children do not seem to have brought you and your wife closer. It's important that you be true to yourself.

    DEAR ABBY: I was abused by both my parents when I was younger. Although there were short periods when they were kind, the bad far outweighed the good.
    I am a decent person. I don't break the law. I don't do drugs. I pay my taxes on time, hold down a job and have friends. But I no longer love my parents. I don't mistreat them, but neither do I love them. I have gotten therapy and moved on, at least as much as I can in a relationship where the other parties have no desire to change their behavior.
    Does this make me a bad person? -- "MICKEY" IN MASSACHUSETTS
    DEAR "MICKEY": Not in my book. That your heart is not filled with bitterness for those who abused you, and that you have managed to move on, means your therapy was successful. To repeatedly invite yet another dose of pain makes no more sense than to repeatedly touch a hot stove. Not wanting a close relationship with people who cause you pain is healthy.
    DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend's sister asked me to pitch in on a gift for their mother. Because it was easier for everyone, I simply wound up buying the gift. My girlfriend's sister promised to pay half the cost.
    Since then, the gift has been given — and "Sissy" acts like she went in on it, but she hasn't paid me. I don't want to seem like a pest over this, and it's likely I'll be a part of the family someday. Do I ask my girlfriend's sister for the money, or keep my mouth shut and learn an expensive lesson?
-- BRIAN IN PENNSYLVANIA
    DEAR BRIAN: Ask for the money — once. If it's not forthcoming, recognize that "Sissy" is a flake. This may seem like an expensive lesson, but in the long run — if you join the family — you'll recognize you got off cheap.

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