DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: My wife recently went back to work after taking a one year of maternity leave. She thoroughly enjoyed staying home. The little one and I really liked it as well. She seemed to be less stressed; she truly found something that she enjoyed day and day out.
However, as summer ended, so did her leave from work. We have our little one in daycare and he's doing great there. My wife, however, is a complete emotional mess. For the past month she's been crying every day, hasn't been eating well, is stone-faced with me, although delightful with other people who come over. I love my wife and son more than anything else in this world, and I'd do anything to make them happy. I've suggested she stay home but warned that we would have to give up a lot of our daily luxuries in order to make ends meet. She just laughs at the suggestion. I'm worried for my wife and her well-being and also for how this is affecting our marriage. What should I do? Is she depressed? I have asked her to talk with her doctor but she just says, "I'll get over it someday." -- Desperate Husband, Rural Manitoba
Dear Husband: She seems to be depressed because of leaving or "abandoning" her baby. And, at some level she is blaming you. You offered that she could stay home but then gave her the "have to give up luxuries" warning line, which sounds like you were insincere. That's why she laughed it off. To reopen this topic, say this: "Let's dream for a minute. If we had enough money, would you be happy to quit your job and stay home with our baby? If she says, "Yes, but that's a pipe dream" you say, "No, it actually isn't. If you wanted to stay home, perhaps you could start a part-time home-based business such as Avon or Passion Parties or a jewelry line. If you don't want that, could you just work part-time?" Tell her to take time to think about it seriously. Write back and tell me how this goes. No matter what you do, counselling would help at this point to stop the blaming and start communication flowing freely again.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is a solution that worked for me and might work for the grandmother who wants her grown kids to come over and do her house and yard work. With my mother, I hired a caregiver to come to the home and paid the boy next door to do the yard work. The problem was looked after. The "children" of the lady who wrote are probably very busy in their own lives. If they only get a call asking for help, to them it's not a visit, it's another job to go to. --Tip From My Experience, Winnipeg
Dear Tip: A lot of people don't understand how small an older person's budget is, and need to gift them with care and help if they can. They could also arrive for a surprise dinner with takeout and enjoy spontaneous parties with grandparents. If you have an irritating relationship with an older parent, taking them out to concerts and fun events is better than sitting and looking at each other and throwing barbs. A lot of older folk don't have much news to tell, but playing cards and board games can be fun and it's a way to be happy together.
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