Wife dislikes being the breadwinner

I’ve been with my husband for 15 years. He has many good qualities, but he has always struggled with shyness, low self-esteem and awkwardness. When we got together, he promised to be the financial provider. He started many careers, all of which fizzled. Twice he’s had year-long gaps where he was unemployed. Right now, he works a minimum-wage job.

Dear Annie: I’ve been with my husband for 15 years.

He has many good qualities, but he has always struggled with shyness, low self-esteem and awkwardness. When we got together, he promised to be the financial provider. He started many careers, all of which fizzled. Twice he’s had year-long gaps where he was unemployed. Right now, he works a minimum-wage job.

We are both in our mid-30s and recently had our first baby. I am resentful and angry that I had to return to work and put the baby in day care. I missed my baby’s first steps and first word. I feel robbed of time with my child.

My husband says the difficulty of being the provider has been too hard to overcome. He wants me to let it go and move on. But, Annie, he is perfectly capable of making it happen. I never wanted to be “Mrs. Career,” and now I feel trapped. He always has excuses for not choosing a career. He has abandoned me to carry this financial burden on my own.

I have seen a few counsellors, who say to keep encouraging and believing in him, but my baby is nearly 2, and my husband is not making any effort. My father worked two jobs, and he says there’s something wrong with a man who can’t provide for his family. I tend to believe him. Do I let the dream die and accept reality or keep encouraging him? — Sad Wife

Dear Sad: There are worse things than being the main breadwinner and putting your child in day care. But the resentment and anger are problematic, and encouragement only goes so far. Please insist that your husband be evaluated for adult ADD, and also that he get some career counselling as well as therapy to work on his negative, self-defeating attitude.

Dear Annie: My father is dying of cancer. According to the doctors, he doesn’t have much longer to live. Dad and his second wife have been married for nearly 60 years. She has some dementia. My two younger half-brothers have told me she will get very upset if my daughter and I go see Dad. My stepmother and I have never been close, but she was always very sweet to us in the past. I don’t want to upset her, but at the same time, I want to see my dad, and my daughter wants to visit her granddad before he passes.

We were able to see him for a short visit in the hospital, and once we came over when his wife was out of the house.

I know this is a stressful time for the whole family. I don’t think Dad has much more time, and I will be upset if he dies and I haven’t had a chance to say goodbye. What should I do? — First Born

Dear First Born: Go anyway. If you fear it will derail your stepmother, ask one of her sons to please take her out for dinner or shopping so you can stop by with your daughter and say goodbye. Give them two or three possible time options, and insist that they select one within the week.

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