Dear Abby: My husband, “Ed,” and I are in our 40s. We both work, and Ed often puts in more than 60 hours a week. My in-laws, in their 60s, are both in good health, retired and well-off financially. They expect weekly gatherings unless THEY have other plans.

In warmer weather, my mother-in-law guilt-trips Ed into performing weekly chores such as painting, gardening, window washing, etc. These take more than six hours on Sundays, in addition to dinner.

My in-laws also insist on yearly family vacations. Because of this, we have little time alone with our teens or each other. I don’t think all these gatherings should be mandatory. Please help. This is hurting our marriage.

Highly Stressed

in Pennsylvania

Dear Highly Stressed: During one of those mandatory family visits, you and your husband should tell his parents what you have told me. Unless you explain to them that they have you on a schedule that doesn’t permit you to spend alone time with your children or each other they won’t get it.

Family get-togethers are supposed to be pleasant for all, not mandatory. And if your in-laws can afford the expense, they should hire a handyman to help them and not impose upon their son.

Dear Abby: My husband has been wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a tombstone and the caption “Married and Buried’’ on the front. I have asked him repeatedly not to wear it because it hurts my feelings, but he only laughs and says it’s just a gag.

What do I do?

Offended in Florida

Dear Offended: Because your husband persists in doing something he knows hurts your feelings, I can’t blame you for feeling offended. While I’m tempted to advise you to have a T-shirt made that reads ‘’Married to an Insensitive Clod’’ and wear it when he puts his on, I think you’d be better off simply ignoring him when he does it. Eventually he’ll quit wearing it when the novelty wears off.

Love, Abby

Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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