They Fought Over Chores and Decisions

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Laura: Through counseling, I realized that I felt so guilty about not being involved in my kids' lives that I was oblivious to Tom's feelings. Though he was bothered by the disparity in our wages, he was more upset about the dismissive way I spoke to him. I've tried hard to pay attention to that.

Five years ago, Laura's company was reorganized, and she decided not to stay. She then started a new career as a real-estate agent. This gave her flexibility to spend more time with Tom and Dylan, the only child still at home, before he left for college.

Tom: Since my business finally took off a few years ago, we've been less dependent on Laura's earnings. But her whole attitude toward me and the family shifted when she changed jobs.

Laura: I love being able to make my own hours and having time to chat over breakfast with Dylan -- on the rare occasions that he's in the mood to chat, that is! Our life in general is calmer. We just celebrated our 31st anniversary and we have three grandkids.

Tom: Once we stopped fighting, I realized that who brings in the money isn't important. How we treat each other is. Recently, we were at a stalemate regarding whether Dylan deserved his own car. I was fine with it; Laura wasn't. In the past, she would have steamrolled right over me. This time, we talked about it calmly, compromised, and finally agreed that if Dylan kept his grades up and proved he was responsible for three months, then he could buy his older sister's used car. Laura is much more open to hearing my side now.

Laura: ...and I'm much less concerned about the little things, like whether the house is spic-and-span. But Tom has changed, too. He takes the initiative about stuff he knows is important to me. Last week he washed the kitchen floor -- without my even asking!


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