Man’s indecision puts marriage on shaky grounds

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have been with my husband for 29 years, 25 of them married. We have had good times and bad, like most couples, but over the last four years, things have changed. We came to a place where we both needed to decide whether we wanted to continue in our marriage. We went to counseling, and I pursued my own personal growth, trying new things I was interested in and finding gratitude and happiness in my interests and career. My husband did the same thing.

Now I have moved past it, forgiven, told my husband I love him and hope he feels the same. You know what he said? He said he doesn't know. He said he needs more time. Frankly, it has already been a long time, and it's upsetting to have to wait for him to make up his mind.

If I become frustrated, he says I don't have to stay and I'm free to do what I want. Trouble is, I want my husband, and I want him to want me back. What do I do? I take good care of myself and have a healthy sex drive. Sex happens rarely, and I end up being rejected more often than not. He also had an emotional affair with a woman he knows, but he thinks I made too much of it. That was about 18 months ago. Help, please. -- UNCOUPLING IN CANADA

DEAR UNCOUPLING: Going off and being independent may have been the wrong path to take. Your husband appears to have disconnected from you, both physically and emotionally. When he went off and "tried things he was interested in," among the things he tried may have been the woman with whom he had the affair.

If you continue waiting for your husband to make up his mind, you could be sitting in limbo for years. You take care of yourself, have a healthy sex drive and are entitled to a life. Now may be time to make one for yourself.

DEAR ABBY: For the past year my sister has been involved with a guy she went to high school with. He moved in with her and her 4-year-old son.

Before he moved in, my sister, my mom and I had a pretty decent relationship. Since this boyfriend has come into the picture, our relationship has become strained. He doesn't work, doesn't like her son, and she pays for everything (rent, food, car payments, etc.). Whatever he says, logical or not, she does it.

Recently, my nephew's father reached out to me because she hasn't let him see their son. When I asked my sister why, she had no reasonable explanation. I don't know what to do at this point. She won't even let the family see my nephew now. What should I do? -- MAD IN MARYLAND

DEAR MAD: Your sister's boyfriend has succeeded in isolating her, and it is a very dangerous red flag. This is what abusers do, and you should worry not only about her, but also her son, whom the boyfriend doesn't like. Could they be hiding the child because he has bruises?

As to the father of the boy, if he has been contributing financially for his son, he may, with the help of a lawyer, be able to exert enough influence to get his visitation back. Please suggest it.

For now, all you can do is tell your sister you are concerned for her well-being because she is carrying the whole load. Tell her you are also concerned for the child and that no matter what, you love them both and will be there for them. She needs to hear it. And if necessary, contact child protective services.

DEAR ABBY: I went through an ugly divorce. My second wife, "Marci," is a liar, a cheat and a thief. She claims she's religious, but she gambles. She opens bank accounts that I'm not aware of. She tries to justify what she has done, but she calls constantly if I leave the house. She claims she's jealous. I think it's more of a control issue, and I leave for peace of mind.

Recently, her relatives asked for a private meeting to discuss her behavior and shared what I feared. Afterward, I called her supposed ex-husband and he told me they are still married. When I asked Marci to show me her divorce papers, she refused. I have talked with my pastor and attorney. They said give her six weeks and then move on. What do you suggest? -- TAKEN FOR A FOOL IN ALABAMA

DEAR TAKEN: Listen to these two unbiased advisers! Secure any property or information Marci might use to take further advantage of you, and take comfort in the fact that because you are not legally married, you are not responsible for any debts she has or will run up. Understand that Marci is a con artist, and please do exactly what your pastor and your attorney have instructed. If she keeps calling, block her or change your phone number. And if she stalks you -- and she may -- talk to the police.

DEAR ABBY: "Lila," a friend from my high school days I hadn't seen for years, called me out of the blue and said her mom wanted to see me again. Her mother and I had been friends for years. "Mom" was a special lady, and I always admired her, so I agreed.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I greeted them and we engaged in a little conversation. When I went to order, Lila pulled out a sales book she was selling items out of. Because I didn't want to disappoint her mother, I looked at each item. The only thing I could afford was an umbrella for $29. I already had a $5 one at home (my budget).

Abby, I felt used and insulted. Lila's only goal was selling me something -- not reuniting me with her mother. Lila is better off financially than I am. She owns her own home and drives a brand-new SUV. My car was bought used for $2,000.

How do I tolerate a person like her? She wants all she can get, even if it means using an old friend. By the way, she was decked out in her fashionable finest and ordered the cheapest thing on the menu. -- SAD FRIEND ON THE EAST COAST

DEAR SAD FRIEND: You do not have to tolerate a person like Lila, and you should not feel pressured to buy something from anyone that you don't want or need. If Lila calls again, inform her that you are not interested in anything she is selling and end the call.

DEAR ABBY: I've gotten into wearing swim trunks in the summer as normal attire. They're good for the hot streets, and no one has said anything. I pair them with a white T-shirt or no shirt. I plan to do it again this summer. What do you think? -- COOL DUDE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR DUDE: If you're in great shape and the neighbors aren't scandalized, then what I think doesn't matter. (Swim) suit yourself.

I will, however, offer this: A wise woman once advised me to always look my best when I went out because invariably, if I didn't, I'd encounter someone I wished I looked better for and regret that I hadn't made more effort. And you know what? She was spot on.