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Husband's patience has run out

Dear Annie: I have been married to my wife for 20 years, but only three were truly happy. My wife is older and had been married before. She came to the relationship with a 3-year-old child. We then had a daughter together.

Not long after we married, I learned that my wife is a clutter bug and refuses to do housework. She always has an excuse. Usually, she's "too tired" or says, "I'm just not good at cleaning." For years, I've done all of the housekeeping and laundry and most of the cooking. I also had a full-time job while she would periodically be unemployed. I had to work overtime hours and get a second job to make ends meet. She once went an entire year without working, yet would not lift a finger to help around the house.

Needless to say, I've built up a lot of resentment toward her and have lost any feeling of intimacy. We live like roommates. I have stuck it out for my teenage daughter's sake, but due to my wife's terrible example, my daughter is now exhibiting traits similar to her mother's.

I've tried to talk to my wife about this, but she accuses me of being an ungrateful taskmaster, expecting her to do more, and it turns into a major fight. I don't think I can take it any longer. I want someone I can love. Am I wrong to want out? Should I suck it up and be grateful she isn't a drug addict or an alcoholic? Do I stay until my daughter is out of the house? Please help me out. - Trouble in Paradise

Dear Trouble: The bar must be set pretty low in your house for you to believe that a marriage is good enough because your spouse isn't an addict. Your resentment has festered too long. Please talk to a counselor, alone or with your wife, and see whether anything can be changed.

Also discuss with the counselor alternatives to your current situation (separation, divorce, resignation, patience) to help you figure out your best next step.

Dear Annie: Our office recently hired a man with terrible halitosis. Several of us have been tasked with training him, but his breath is so horrendous that it's hard to stand near him.

It's bad enough that this man is a smoker, but his breath reeks from more than that. It appears as though he never brushes his teeth. He certainly doesn't rinse with mouthwash. He seems like a decent fellow, and I don't want to embarrass him, but is there something we can do? Should I anonymously leave breath mints on his desk? - Co-Worker in Binghamton, N.Y.

Dear Co-Worker: Halitosis can come from a variety of sources, including gastrointestinal issues. Basic dental hygiene not only helps with bad breath, but it also can protect you from gum disease and heart disease. You could ask management or your human resources department to handle this.

Otherwise, we hope one of you has the courage to take this man aside privately and sympathetically inform him that he should see his dentist or doctor about his breath because there could be a medical reason behind it. The temporary embarrassment will be worth it.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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