Years spent apart stretch marriage to breaking point

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my husband for 12 years. He retired from the Army before I met him, and I currently serve, stationed overseas.

When we first met, I thought we had an understanding that because he didn't have to work, he would follow me and my three children wherever the military takes us. He doesn't like to get "tied down," and I don't do too well with long-distance relationships. He developed a love for golf, which takes him touring all over the world.

Now that it's just the two of us and the children are grown, I thought we would never be apart. Well, we've been apart for the four years that I've been stationed away from him, and I am tired of it. He's a good man but set in his ways. I have another 10 years before I retire, and I don't want to waste the best years of my life being lonely.

We haven't slept together in seven months, and even when he visits, we are not on the same emotional level. I plan to divorce him, which I have alluded to twice before, and now is my chance to follow through. Should I? -- SERIOUSLY DEBATING

DEAR DEBATING: Because you are unwilling to accept the way your husband is, and he is unwilling to spend time working on your marriage, you should follow through. Contact an attorney and get the process started.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I recently found out that we are expecting our second "oops" baby. We are thrilled, but I'm deeply concerned about one thing. My husband's brother and his wife are a few weeks away from completing their first round of IVF. I'm beside myself trying to think of ways to be as sensitive as possible.

My husband says that, as both of these circumstances are beyond human control, there's no need to worry, and we can reasonably expect everyone to be adult and understanding. But I understand the emotional toll taken by infertility is incredible, and I'm worried she'll feel overlooked, or, worse, if the IVF isn't successful, that she'll regard our baby as a constant reminder. Please help! -- UNEXPECTED IN TEXAS

DEAR UNEXPECTED: I applaud your appreciation of the emotional toll infertility can take on couples, which can be devastating. However, if your sister-in-law's IVF is unsuccessful and you make your grand announcement afterward, the news will be doubly painful for her. This is why I vote for telling her quietly -- before she receives the results -- so she will be prepared regardless of what they are.

DEAR ABBY: I have had two partners now who, almost every morning, would regale me for 10 minutes about their nightly dreams. It drove me up the wall, but I didn't want to hurt their feelings, so I sat and listened to their boring stories about flying or falling or my doing something bad. Would you please inform your readers that their dreams are their own and they do not interest other people? -- DREAM-FREE IN WASHINGTON

DEAR DREAM-FREE: I have a better idea. YOU tell your future partners you would rather not hear about their dreams when they start regaling you. That way they won't miss the message if they happen to skip my column today.

DEAR ABBY: My wife of 10 years keeps all kinds of secrets from me. We let her adult daughter, "Maude," move in. Maude is 35 and has one daughter. I recently found out that Maude is pregnant again. I heard they had decided to "surprise me" with the news. (The father is the same guy as before.) I'm tired of being the third wheel, and I think it's time for me to call it quits. What do you think? -- STAY OR GO IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR STAY OR GO: I'm glad you asked. What I think is that you are outnumbered. Maude should be living on her own or with the father of her children. If I am reading between the lines correctly, you have allowed yourself to be stuck with the financial burden that Maude and her irresponsible boyfriend should be carrying. I also think it's time you gave your wife an ultimatum -- either Maude and her daughter move out or you will. Whichever option she chooses, your situation will improve.

DEAR ABBY: I've been married for five years. Before meeting my husband, I never thought I would find "the one." Recently, I have been having feelings of wanting to experience sleeping with a woman. I've always been sexually adventurous, and I have mentioned a threesome, but he isn't interested.

I don't want to die without experiencing sex with a woman, but I also love my husband dearly, and we have a great partnership that I don't want to destroy. Help! -- WOMAN SEEKS WOMAN IN NEW YORK

DEAR WOMAN: It's time for another frank conversation with your husband. Explain clearly that although you love him dearly and do not want to destroy your partnership, you are bi-curious and you would like to experience sex with a woman. However, if his reaction is negative, you must then decide how important fulfilling this fantasy is to you in light of the fact that it could threaten your marriage.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a stay-at-home mother. My husband works Monday to Friday, 10 hours a day. We have been married nearly four years. My problem is we never have alone time. I feel if it continues, we will just fall apart.

On weekends, we sit home, and it's claustrophobic. We have only one vehicle, which he needs to use, so during the week, I'm stuck at home. Being home 24/7 is driving me nuts. We never get out and have family time or a date night. I tell him we need it, but he doesn't seem to care. Could you guide me on what to do? -- IN NEED OF COUPLES' TIME

DEAR IN NEED: Stop telling your husband "we" need a date night and say instead, "I need this! If you want our marriage to survive, you will take me out of here so we can spend time without the kid (or kids) because I feel like I'm going nuts."

A date night every few weeks or once a month isn't too much to ask for. If he is worried about the expense, make sure he knows a hamburger, a sandwich, a drive alone with him is what you need. But if he still doesn't seem to care, then your problem is greater than cabin fever.