Dear Amy:

I have been married to my wife for a little more than four years. We have a wonderful 10-month-old daughter. I love my wife very much, and I think she loves me too. My problem is that my wife is very hot-tempered, and when she is arguing she gets so agitated that she doesn't care how her words and actions hurt me.

While she usually calms down within a few hours, some of the things that she has done have left a permanent scar.

Two weeks ago, during a fit of rage, she told me that if I didn't shut up she would call 911 and say that I was abusing her. She proceeded to actually dial 911. Luckily she came to her senses and hung up before the call went through. However, this is the second time in two weeks she has done this.

I feel hurt and dismayed that she could actually ever think of doing such a thing, and I cannot seem to overcome the feeling that her behavior crossed the line and has ruptured the fabric of trust in our marriage.

Is this something I should continue to ignore as a temper tantrum, or should I be concerned?

A Concerned Husband

Not only should you be concerned, you should be alarmed. If your wife is capable of threatening and abusing you in this way, I shudder to think what she might do when your daughter reaches the toddler stage and starts to trigger her temper. Have you thought about the effect all of this will have on your girl?

You need to take immediate steps to interrupt this cycle of abusive behavior. You should do whatever is necessary to force your wife into counseling and also to protect your daughter. I suggest seeing a lawyer immediately to get advice on how to properly document this behavior and perhaps prepare to remove your daughter from the home.

Your wife is ruthlessly willing to accuse you of abuse to punish you. I don't think you fully realize what a world of hurt that accusation will visit upon you if she follows through.

Dear Amy:

I am a part-time stay-at-home mom with a year-old daughter. My husband works full time and loves to golf on the weekends. He usually goes golfing all day Saturday. This wasn't a problem until our daughter came along.

I have expressed to him many times how I really need his help with our daughter on the weekends, and to be honest, I really just enjoy having him home to talk to!

We worked out a plan where he could golf every other Saturday, which I thought was more than fair. But now that golf season has come around, he seems to be backing out of our deal.

He gives me a lot of grief about how this is his only escape and that I should let him have his fun because he works all week.

I love my daughter, but I need a break sometimes too! Plus, I feel that she is missing out on daddy time and family time together.

Am I being unreasonable about this? Should I continue to let him golf every Saturday and just shut my mouth? This is becoming a big source of stress in our relationship.

Mad Mommy

This situation cries out for a compromise. Some families I know work this out by making sure that both parents get some alone time -- unstructured time when they can do as they please.

You and your husband also need time together, with just the two of you, and I hope that you make sure you get a sitter occasionally so you can enjoy a night out. According to Susan Heitler, a marriage and family therapist and author of "The Power of Two: Secrets of a Strong & Loving Marriage," couples need 15 hours a week as a couple (not in the presence of their children) to have a strong marriage.

Your husband has unilaterally decided that he needs to "escape" your home and that he will do so, regardless of your feelings -- or your previous deal. One way to approach this positively would be to offer him a set number of hours each Saturday (not the entire day), while you take a set number of hours each Sunday.

Working dads sometimes take a while to catch on to the whole child-rearing thing. Some alone time with your daughter, where you aren't around to direct the action, could be just the thing he needs to become a more confident and involved father. Once he realizes that he always shoots under par as a dad, the golf course might hold less allure.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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