DEAR ABBY: My husband of 30 years has always made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for him. He would flirt with other women and say things to me about an ex-girlfriend he broke up with before marrying his first wife. (I caught him private messaging her.) He has told me four different times that we should separate. The first three times, I cried about it. The last time he said it, I told him never to say that to me again.
I have always tried my best to be a good wife to him. He’s verbally abusive most of the time. When I see him coming home from work, my stomach ties in knots because I don’t know what kind of mood he’s in. He can be good at times, but it’s not that often. I’m going to be 50 and I’m not sure if I want to live like this the rest of my life. Help, please. — UNHAPPY IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR UNHAPPY: It’s important you recognize that you are married to an emotional abuser. He maintains his power in your relationship by eroding your sense of self-esteem. Discuss with a licensed mental health professional the treatment you have tolerated for the last 30 years and your desire to rebuild your shattered self-esteem. It may take time to accomplish, but it will be money well spent.
At some point you may ask your husband to join you, but don’t expect him to automatically agree. Once you feel better about yourself, you can then make a well-thought-out decision about whether to continue being married to him.
DEAR ABBY: I’m a 56-year-old man who has been with a great guy, age 50, for 20 years. We were married two years ago. He’s a professor; I’m a clinician. We have spent the last 20 years building a beautiful life advancing our careers, traveling to 80 countries, wining and dining in the best places in the world and cultivating long-lasting friendships with people all over the planet.
Five years ago, I felt a sense of emptiness in spite of our happiness and talked to him about children. He was adamantly opposed. I let it go, but now that emptiness is tearing me up inside. I am at the point of giving up my life with him to have a child on my own via adoption or IVF with a surrogate. His biggest issue is how his comfortable life will be changed forever. My issue is getting those last few drops of unfulfilled happiness before it’s too late. Please advise. — HAPPY BUT INCOMPLETE
DEAR H.B.I.: If your husband is steadfast that he doesn’t want his lifestyle to change, he may not be taking into account that with you out of the picture, it will change regardless. And it isn’t unheard of that someone who is fearful of the responsibility of raising a child can have a change of heart and fall in love with the little person after meeting him or her. If ever a couple could use marital counseling, it’s the two of you to help you determine whether a compromise can be reached.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.