Diminishing Dad is Mom's specialty

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist. ...

DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for more than 25 years. During that time we have had our share of marital issues, mostly related to our finances. Although we are very comfortable, my wife makes more money than I do, and it has always been a point of contention. I try to compensate by doing household and outside chores and projects, as well as helping our children, but it is never enough. The other day I had a private conversation with my wife explaining that I was concerned our poor relationship was affecting our children. Furthermore, I am concerned it could affect their current and future relationships. A day or two later we were having a birthday dinner for me, and I sent a text to our daughters asking if they would be coming to the house. I got an angry text reply from one daughter, saying that my wife had told her that I said "she was ruined" and that I blamed her mother, neither of which was true. I have also overheard my wife making very derogatory and inappropriate comments to my other daughter. I immediately suggested that we go to family counseling. However, my wife refused and denied her statements. My daughter will not return my calls. I just don't understand why my wife doesn't realize how damaging this is to our daughters.

<>-- Distraught

DEAR DISTRAUGHT: This interfamily bad mouthing diminishes your stature with your daughters, and from your description, diminishing you is your wife's specialty. You are correct that this negative family dynamic will affect your daughters' relationships down the road.

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In order to be effective partners, you and your wife should pool your money to use for the benefit of the family -- and not keep score. Some couples are able to peacefully run their households by keeping income and expenses separate, but this can create a serious power imbalance.

You should definitely pursue counseling and invite your daughters to join you.

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