Dear Annie: My frustration with my husband's lack of income has become so intense it's threatening our relationship. We've been married 15 years and have two kids. He's been self-employed since he was laid off five years ago. The first three years, his business seemed promising, but he hasn't been able to draw any salary at all for the past year.

I work full time. I also work part time in his business (with no pay). I've always been frugal and willing to sacrifice, but I'm tired of feeling poor even though I have a good job, a good education and am working 60 hours a week.

My husband has good sales skills and works hard, but his home business does not produce enough income to support our family and he has been unable to find other employment. He's looked at several different types of careers. We've tried reworking his resume, networking, job placement services, online services and cold-calling businesses about current and future openings.

I waiver between being disappointed by him and worrying that I'm damaging his ego. I feel it's his responsibility to help financially support his family. I'm angry with him, the economy, employers who won't give him a chance and myself for feeling let down. Is there any way I can be satisfied with a good man who is a wonderful father and lover but doesn't make any money? —Frustrated Wife

Dear Wife: You apparently understand this is not your husband's fault, and you both seem to have tried all available avenues to improve the situation. Now you need to adjust your attitude. It's slightly old-fashioned to believe it's more your husband's responsibility to support the family than it is yours. Instead, can he do a greater share of household chores, cooking, laundry, etc.? Then convince yourself this arrangement is beneficial because he will be contributing more to the family well-being. You have a good man. Money isn't everything.

Dear Annie: We are building a gazebo in our backyard, and my husband phoned his brother (who is in construction) and asked him how to assemble it. His brother went on to draw up extensive plans (which changed the design) and then offered to come help us build it if we bought him an airline ticket. We hadn't planned to do this, but we accepted his gracious offer and purchased a ticket after confirming the dates. My brother-in-law then realized he had a conflict and needed to change the ticket. He feels we should pay the penalty fee and are being ungrateful if we don't.

Is it our responsibility to pay this? —Bothered in Salem, Ore.

Dear Salem: Your brother-in-law should pay the penalty since he is the one who changed the date after the ticket was purchased. However, if you want to maintain a good relationship with him and continue to use his expertise, you might pay for the additional fee or offer to split it with him in order to avoid any ill will.

Dear Annie: I read your column every day, and I notice one complaint that comes up at least once a week: my husband/wife/son/sister is bipolar and refuses to take medication. This breaks my heart because I am bipolar and medication is what has given me a life worth living.

It's hard to accept that life is so unfair that some of us have to take medication just to feel normal. There is so much judgment, and worst of all, people assume that all bipolar patients are dangerous criminals. No wonder people are afraid of facing the truth and taking medication.

It's very possible that if society became more aware of the realities of mental illness and stopped blaming people who need to take medication, more people would accept the blessing of modern science. Thank you for being a voice for those suffering with their loved ones. —Happy at Last


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected]omcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © 2008 Creators Syndicate, Inc.