DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married three years. It has been rocky since year two. She's a great mother to our kids, especially the one who is medically challenged. We have broken up twice so far, and are now back together. However, because of my job, we live in different states.

Bottom line: I'm no longer sure this is the right relationship for me. She goes to school full time while I work a ton of overtime to support two households. We hardly see or spend time with each other. She has said she would rather me work and not see me so that everything gets paid. I feel she's more about the money than the marriage. What do you think?

- Unhappily Married In Baltimore

DEAR UNHAPPILY: You and your wife both appear to be carrying a heavy load. For the sake of your children, it would be nice if your marriage could be resuscitated. However, not every marriage can be - and the arrangement you have now is clearly not working for you.

If your wife actually feels that she would rather not see you so that everything gets paid, then I think she has made her feelings clear. The marriage no longer exists; it's a financial arrangement. For that, you both have my sympathy.

Not on first-name basis with husband

DEAR ABBY: Why does it feel awkward for me to call my husband by his first name? When I say his name from another room to get his attention, it only feels natural for me to call him "Babe."

When I'm talking about him to someone else, I use his name, but it still makes me cringe. It's a perfectly normal, common name, so I don't know why it makes me so uncomfortable. And this doesn't just apply to my husband. Before him, I was in a six-year relationship with my high school sweetheart and had the same problem.

Why can I only call my significant others "Babe" when talking to them?

- Hubby's Name Is . . .

DEAR HUBBY'S NAME: When couples become intimately involved, it is common for them to use pet names with each other. That you call your husband and your former boyfriend by the same name is interesting. Could it be that subconsciously you are/were afraid that if you don't use the same pet name, you will absent-mindedly use the wrong one?

Theater etiquette one term not in vocabulary

DEAR ABBY: My cousin and I have season tickets for the Broadway series at our local theater. Our problem is two women who sit next to us in the box. After intermission, when the second act starts, they talk loudly to each other as long as 10 minutes into the show. I want to say something, but I don't want to cause any negativity or bad feelings because we will see them at each show. How should I deal with it?

- Audience Member

DEAR MEMBER: Here's how: When the women continue their conversation after the curtain rises, you say to the one nearest you, "Please be quiet. We can't hear the performance." That's not rude; it's being assertive. If they persist after that, complain to the management and ask that, if possible, in the future you be seated apart from the magpies.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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