Dear Abby: My husband’s kind but contributes little to income or chores

Brought up to believe a wife is responsible for all housework, man knows he should help but doesn’t follow through.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were raised within religious communities. Among other conservative values, we were taught that a wife is to be responsible for domestic labor, and a husband is to be the primary breadwinner outside the home (yes, even in the ‘90s and 2000s). We were still deeply involved in these communities when we married at 21 and 22.

I wasn’t physically attracted to my husband at the time of our courtship or marriage, but he was (and still is) very kind to me. I was led to believe I was following God’s path by getting married, and the union allowed me to escape my domineering father.

The initial relief and freedom I experienced slowly evolved into feelings of resentment when I started realizing my husband is not equipped, emotionally or intellectually, to provide for the family I hoped for. Luckily, we have agreed that many of our families’ traditional values are simply not serving our needs.

I now enjoy a career and provide the majority of our income. I’m still responsible for most of the housework, despite many conversations about balancing the labor. My husband recognizes that he needs to step up, but has struggled to follow through. Men doing housework was not modeled for him growing up, which makes it challenging. His heart is in the right place, but that doesn’t help me.

I feel burned out and alone. We have been in marriage counseling for a year; nothing has changed. I am turning 30 this year and starting to despair about the future of our marriage and the possibility of having children. I want a partner I can count on. Am I chasing a fantasy? — DISILLUSIONED IN WASHINGTON

DEAR DISILLUSIONED: I’m sorry to say this, but I’m afraid you may be. While you have escaped it, your husband is still trapped in the role he was raised to believe was his. The question really is, can he recognize this and adapt to the new circumstances? It would be wonderful if he could, but if it isn’t in the cards, you should not start a family with him.

DEAR ABBY: My son married in 2016. Because of his wife’s drug use, he divorced her in 2018. Before their large November wedding, I crocheted her a gorgeous shawl as a gift. (My late mother lined it.) It was a stunning piece, trimmed throughout with gold yarn scalloping in intermittent rows and along the edges. I thought she would enjoy it, but she never took it out of its packaging. She stuffed it in a nightstand drawer in the guest room.

My son ran across it a few weeks ago and didn’t realize what it was. Now that I have it back, I don’t know what to do with it. I know of some upcoming weddings, but I feel if I explain what it is, it would be considered unlucky. Should I donate it to charity? — UNDECIDED IN ILLINOIS

DEAR UNDECIDED: Because you are hesitant to give the shawl to anyone because of possible bad karma, feel free to donate it so someone can appreciate the work and love that went into creating it. (You could also use it yourself, unless you are afraid the bad luck could rub off on you.)

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 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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