DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were raised within religious communities. Among other conservative values, we were taught that a wife is to be responsible for domestic labor, and a husband is to be the primary breadwinner outside the home (yes, even in the '90s and 2000s). We were still deeply involved in these communities when we married at 21 and 22.
I wasn't physically attracted to my husband at the time of our courtship or marriage, but he was (and still is) very kind to me. I was led to believe I was following God's path by getting married, and the union allowed me to escape my domineering father.
The initial relief and freedom I experienced slowly evolved into feelings of resentment when I started realizing my husband is not equipped, emotionally or intellectually, to provide for the family I hoped for. Luckily, we have agreed that many of our families' traditional values are simply not serving our needs.
I now enjoy a career and provide the majority of our income. I'm still responsible for most of the housework, despite many conversations about balancing the labor. My husband recognizes that he needs to step up, but has struggled to follow through. Men doing housework was not modeled for him growing up, which makes it challenging. His heart is in the right place, but that doesn't help me.
I feel burned out and alone. We have been in marriage counseling for a year; nothing has changed. I am turning 30 this year and starting to despair about the future of our marriage and the possibility of having children. I want a partner I can count on. Am I chasing a fantasy? -- DISILLUSIONED IN WASHINGTON
DEAR DISILLUSIONED: I'm sorry to say this, but I'm afraid you may be. While you have escaped it, your husband is still trapped in the role he was raised to believe was his. The question really is, can he recognize this and adapt to the new circumstances? It would be wonderful if he could, but if it isn't in the cards, you should not start a family with him.