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Dear Abby: In-laws demand too much time from hard-working son

Dear Abby: My husband, “Ed,” and I are in our 40s. We both work, and Ed often puts in more than 60 hours a week. My in-laws, in their 60s, are both in good health, retired and well-off financially. They expect weekly gatherings unless THEY have other plans.

In warmer weather, my mother-in-law guilt-trips Ed into performing weekly chores such as painting, gardening, window washing, etc. These take more than six hours on Sundays, in addition to dinner.

My in-laws also insist on yearly family vacations. Because of this we have little time alone with our teens or each other. I don’t think all these gatherings should be mandatory. Please help. This is hurting our marriage.

– Highly Stressed in Pennsylvania

Dear Highly Stressed: During one of those mandatory family visits, you and your husband should tell his parents what you have told me. Unless you explain to them that they have you on a schedule that doesn’t permit you to spend alone time with your children or each other they won’t get it.

Family get-togethers are supposed to be pleasant for all, not mandatory. And if your in-laws can afford the expense, they should hire a handyman to help them and not impose upon their son.

Too much negativity

Dear Abby: I have been single for almost six years and have had no luck with the dating scene. Every time I go on a date, I perceive it as a date that went extremely well. But when I go to contact the guy the next day, I get no response in return.

I have major trust issues to begin with from past relationships, and it’s hard for me to let my guard down. Although I try to be as open and honest with the guys as possible, it just doesn’t work. I know the whole cliche of “the right one is out there somewhere,” but what can someone do when she just feels like giving up completely on dating?

– Giving Up in Stockton, Calif.

Dear Giving Up: The one thing you shouldn’t do is give up and stop trying. Not knowing what you are doing on these first dates, I can only surmise that while being “as open and honest with guys as possible,” you may be giving them so much negative information that you’re scaring them off.

In a way, dating is like sales: It’s important to communicate positive information about the product you are selling (you) and downplay the negative (i.e. “I have trust issues because someone did me wrong.”). It might also be helpful to have an honest talk with some of your friends and ask them what you may be doing wrong.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren. Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 60069.