Dear Abby: I just got off the phone with a friend who makes me envious. "Sally" is a nice person with a great attitude. She married an intelligent, confident man who has become successful and has always been crazy about her. She lives in a beautiful home and has never had to work. She has a close and loving family who travels all over the world together, celebrating every occasion.

When she finishes telling me about her wonderful life, she then asks about mine. But, Abby, I just can't bring myself to tell her about my boring job, my unsuccessful husband, my parents who fight constantly and my average children. So I lie and say that everything is "fine," and after I hang up I feel like a miserable failure.

Sally is one of my dearest friends, and I would hate to end the friendship, but every conversation with her makes me feel worse. What should I do? —Envious of Sally

Dear Envious: First of all, stop measuring yourself and your life against your friend, who may or may not be telling you EVERYTHING that's going on in her life. The fact that Sally's house is bigger, her husband makes more money than yours does and they travel often does not make her more "successful" than you.

What you need is an attitude adjustment. Grab a piece of paper, sit down and start listing the blessings in your life, starting with your health and that of your family. Your husband is working and so are you. Many people aren't so fortunate.

Your children may not be straight-A students or star athletes, but are they productive? Reasonably well-adjusted? Happy? OK, so your parents fight. If they're still together after battling all these years, could it be the way they communicate?

What I'm trying to help you see is that although your life is different from your friend's, you are successful, too. And the next time Sally asks you about your life, you should level with her and let her really get to know you.

Dear Abby: I married my high school sweetheart at 18 and put off college to start the family that we always wanted. Nine years later, we have three beautiful daughters.

My husband has a great job with a good salary. I have never had to work, but now I feel totally dependent on him. I have expressed my feelings to him about wanting a career. He tells me I already have one — taking care of the family. He says I need to be at home with them.

Abby, I feel like I should get out of the house and start a career of my own so my daughters don't think their place in the world is to be only a stay-at-home mommy. Don't get me wrong, I love being with and taking care of my girls. But am I doing long-term damage to them by being so dependent on their father for everything? — Texas Mommy

Dear Texas Mommy: You may think you are asking one question, but it appears you have two separate issues that need resolving. Your concern about feeling completely financially dependent shouldn't be ignored. What would happen to you and the children if something were to happen to your husband? With only a high school education to fall back on, the impact would be life-changing for you and your girls.

You ask if you are somehow damaging them because you are a full-time mommy. And yet, how can having a mother in the house whose focus is on their welfare and development be damaging? Most children should be so fortunate.

The solution to your problem lies in compromise. By that I mean devoting some of your time to taking classes so you can earn a degree when all your children are in school full time. That way — heaven forbid it should come to this — you will be able to support yourself and your daughters should the need arise.


Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate