Dear Abby: Teaching job makes my husband unhappy, but he refuses to quit

He likes interacting with the few kids who care, but the apathy shown by most students brings him down.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband’s job brings him a great deal of unhappiness, but he doesn’t want to quit. He has been a high school Spanish teacher for 13 years. It’s the only career he’s ever known. There have always been ups and downs, but the problems over the past few years seem to be that the majority of kids at his school, and the school environment in general, have become increasingly apathetic, dysfunctional and lacking in civility.

He hesitates because he knows that if he left, he would lose interaction with the few kids who make his workdays worthwhile, plus he’d be giving up his pension. He is afraid that another job, if there is even one that he’s qualified for, would only make him unhappy in a different way. He comes home seriously downtrodden more days than he comes home feeling OK, let alone happy, and I feel so helpless. What should I do? — TEACHER’S WIFE IN NEW YORK

DEAR WIFE: Remind your husband how important the work he’s doing is, and that his efforts are appreciated by at least some of the students he is trying to teach. He is performing a service that will help those kids who pay attention for the rest of their lives. I speak from experience.

When I was in high school, like many teens who hadn’t been exposed to international travel, I thought the whole world spoke English. My heroic Spanish teacher, Sr Ruben Beltran, somehow managed to force a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary into my shrunken head. I have used what he taught me so many times, because Spanish has become increasingly prevalent in the southwestern part of the U.S., where I live.

In years to come, students who make the effort will remember your husband with respect and gratitude. Please tell him I said so, and not to take the dysfunction personally. In recent years, I have often thought group therapy should be offered in the teachers’ lounge.

P.S. If he continues to be unhappy, he might benefit from talking to his financial adviser and possibly a career counselor about his options. He should also keep his eye open for other jobs while he’s still employed at the school.

DEAR ABBY: I started dating a guy two months ago. It’s going really well. I believe we are both on the same page on how invested we are in the relationship. My brother and sister-in-law are having an informal wedding reception next month here in my town, because they had a shotgun wedding originally. It’s supposed to be very casual. This guy met my sister-in-law, and right in front of him, she mentioned I can bring a guest.

I kind of laughed it off at the time. It’s not that I don’t want him there, I just wonder if it’s too early to invite him to an event where my whole family will be and if it would seem like I am rushing the relationship. Should I tell him he’s welcome to come, or is it too soon? — UNCERTAIN IN THE WEST

DEAR UNCERTAIN: Because this person knows about the party, why not ask if he would be “interested” in going? I hardly think that telling someone he is welcome would come across as pushy.

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.

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