Dear Amy:

I am a 28-year-old working mother of two, married for seven years. I have been unhappy for a very long time.

I rescinded a separation agreement and reconciled with my husband a little more than two years ago. I now know that it was a terrible mistake to reconcile, because all I keep thinking is that I could have been divorced already. Now I am just an emotional wreck. I work 40 hours a week, make sure I get out to amusement parks and movie theaters with the kids at least once a week, and the rest of the time I am just doing everything I can to avoid my husband. He disregards the way I feel. When I tell him, "Our relationship stops with the kids," I don't get a happily-ever-after vibe, do you?

He still brings me roses, calls me pet names and talks to the kids about all of the family things we're going to do together. He is driving me crazy. I am so angry half of the time that all I want to do is scream. I am stuck in this cesspool of a marriage that could have ended a long time ago. My husband can't keep a job. He's been fired three times in two years.

His ambition is nonexistent, and I am numb. He has had us in a lot of legal trouble. I can't deal with it anymore.

My parents think my life will be so much harder without him, and they keep saying to wait it out. Do you agree with this? If so, how long do I have to torture myself before I can finally be happy? I need some kind of support, and I want to be a better mom who isn't so depressed, uptight and angry all the time.

Heartbroken

Mommy in N.Y.Unlike your parents, I don't feel that a person can "wait out" depression and anger. You need an advocate while you are considering what should happen next. Rather than discuss this with your parents (you already know their view), you should take your kids on one less outing per week and commit to a course of counseling in which you can sort out your feelings.

While bringing you flowers and calling you pet names hardly seems like a crime, I can understand how your husband's denial of your unhappiness would be manipulative and upsetting. Being a single mom is challenging. But no challenge is tougher than trying to tolerate what you clearly find intolerable.

Dear Amy:

My dad was in a rehab center for several months after suffering a stroke. Thank goodness he is recovering after months of physical therapy and good nursing care while he was there.

The day before he was discharged, as a way of thanking them for their work, I gave each of the nurses, the physical therapist and the nursing supervisor a sterling silver charm or a necklace with a pendant. I gave gifts to 10 individuals. To date, I have not received a single thank-you note! Am I presumptuous to expect a note?

BethWhile it was thoughtful of you to thank the staff in this way, your gift of jewelry seems slightly too personal. Of course your gift should have been acknowledged (perhaps in a note from the supervisor), but don't forget that your gift was a "thank you." When I've covered this issue, nurses say that they appreciate baskets of soaps or lotions that they can share with other staff, along with a thank-you note that can be posted on the bulletin board in the break room.

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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