Dear Abby: Because of his poor health, I stay with husband who mistreated me

Caring for him feels like the right thing to do, but wife can’t forget how he used to neglect and disrespect her.

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DEAR ABBY: A year and a half ago, I separated from my husband because I was being neglected, disrespected and mistreated emotionally. During the separation, he had to have surgery and needed to be taken care of while he healed. I went back because, as his wife, I felt obligated to do the right thing.

I have tried to move forward and restore my marriage, but I still don’t feel loved or appreciated. In the back of my mind, I can’t forget the way he treated me in the past. I feel stuck because he isn’t working and doesn’t plan on working again. He says he’s not able to, but I believe he could do something that’s not strenuous. How do I find my happiness and still do the right thing? — CONFLICTED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CONFLICTED: Have you told your husband how you feel — about everything? If you have and nothing has changed, make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what your obligations may be to a husband who is no longer self-supporting.

If he has no income, you may have to provide for him financially from now on. For some women, this might mean remaining unhappily married but living their own lives to the extent they can, and not relying on their spouse for emotional or any other support.

DEAR ABBY: I have to meet my fiance’s adult children. They are not happy he’s in a relationship since their mom’s death two years ago. I’m very nervous about it, and so is he. What do we do? — TAKING THE NEXT STEP

DEAR TAKING: You meet them, and do your best to relax and be friendly and open with them. Understand they are still grieving the loss of their beloved mother, and be prepared to do a lot of listening. Refrain from physical displays of affection with your fiance until they get to know you.

If it becomes necessary, their father should be prepared to make clear to them that you two are going to be married and, while they do not have to “love” you, he expects them to treat you with courtesy, respect and kindness.

DEAR ABBY: Is it customary to give a house cleaner or cleaning service lunch or offer them food if they are doing an extensive cleaning job? I ask because my mother-in-law hired a cleaning crew. She watches my infant daughter during the day. She doesn’t cook or clean, although I pay her. Well, she gave the crew lunch. Mind you, she didn’t ask me if it was OK or if I wanted the leftovers for my own lunch. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m wondering if this is typical. — CLEANING CREW LUNCH

DEAR CLEANING CREW: Let me put it this way: It is intelligent and hospitable to offer lunch if you want a happy, energetic cleaning crew who look forward to coming back. The practice is NOT uncommon.

P.S. If there are leftovers you would like to have for lunch, take them with you before the housekeepers arrive.

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.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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