DEAR ABBY: My wife, “Jill,” and I are going through a divorce. I lied to her about money, spent money we didn’t have and generally put her and my kids in danger of losing everything. I am doing everything I can to be accountable, but since we separated six weeks ago, Jill has slept with at least one person and is developing a “friendship” with my sister’s husband. (I’ll call him “Jack.”)

I understand that this isn’t my business, but Jack is spending more time with my children (ages 1 and 3) than I can because I’m working two jobs.

I told him he’s not welcome at my wife’s house as I pay the rent. I said the same thing to Jill, and they agreed that it’s not a good idea for him to be there. It’s still happening, though, and I’m very hurt by it and nearing the end of my capacity to deal with it.

My sister’s marriage is destroyed. My marriage is over. While my sister and I do our best to cope, Jack and Jill are having the time of their lives playing house while I pay for it. My relationship with my children is being undermined, and I don’t know what to do. – BESIDE MYSELF IN NORFOLK

I understand your frustration, but your ability to dictate who comes to the house and spends time with your wife – and by extension, your children – ended when you moved out. For your own sake, I strongly recommend you schedule a meeting with the legal counsel who is representing you in your divorce and set up a regular schedule of visitation with your children. But the sooner you understand that you can’t stop Jill from entertaining whomever she pleases in her dwelling, the better off you will be.

P.S. Your sister also has my sympathy, but what’s going on now should be a clue that she’ll be better off without him.

DEAR ABBY: My life has been a continuous learning experience. My mother-in-law used to give me gifts that were either cracked or broken. I was offended, but never said anything except “thank you.” After her death we had to go through her things, and it was then that I realized that just about everything she owned was chipped or broken.

When one of my children had a falling-out with a friend, I, too, would be upset. But when I would see my child and the offending friend back together the next day, I learned to hold my tongue.

Most recently, a man ran a stop sign, rammed my car and left me with a broken back. From that I learned what a dim view insurance companies have of homemakers. When asked if I was losing time at work, I answered with an honest “yes.” Then came the question, “What do you do?” When I replied that I am a housewife, I learned there was no coverage because what I do isn’t considered “work.” Thanks for listening. – STILL LEARNING IN CAMP HILL, PA.

Thank you for sharing some of the lessons you have learned at the University of Life. You might be interested to know that in 2006, Al Neuharth – the esteemed founder of USA Today – wrote a Mother’s Day column on the value of stay-at-home moms. In it, he quoted job analysts at, who said, “… the lowest-paying parts of a mom’s job are housekeeper, laundry machine operator and janitor. Higher-paying categories include computer operator, facilities manager, psychologist and family CEO.” He concluded by saying that stay-at-home moms work “an average of 91.6 hours a week … worth $143,121 annually.”

Of course, that was in 2006 – when everything was cheaper.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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