I have been married for 17 years with three great kids. My wife and I have struggled on and off during those 17 years. I often feel like maybe I don’t love her. We are complete opposites. I’m adventurous, daring and extroverted. She denies me sex a lot. This last time was for four months.
During that time, I met someone who has the same adventurous spirit as I do. We have hung out and we text often. She’s currently getting a divorce. I’m falling for her and I have expressed it to her. She likes me, but she doesn’t want a relationship right now because she isn’t sure what she really wants. She’s also afraid we both won’t really leave our spouses if we start something.
I stopped texting her, but she said she will wait for me. How do I manage this because I’m hurting in my marriage and hurting by not texting her?
— Torn in Ohio
Inform your wife that the current status of your marriage is no longer acceptable. Denying marital relations appears to be her way of punishing you, which is unfair, so offer her the option of marriage counseling. If she refuses, I hope you will go alone to help you decide rationally which, if any, next steps you want to take.
If you decide to leave your marriage, there is no guarantee the woman you have been seeing will follow through with her divorce, but let her know what your plans are. I should add that for many people, the first relationship after a divorce does not lead to marriage, if you’re contemplating jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
I was a birth mom 45 years ago. My mother forced me to give up my child at birth. Not one person supported my wish to keep my child. My heart and mind screamed, “No, don’t do it!” Now, the birth father says he’s sorry because he’s having serious health problems and thinks he could be dying. I have forgiven everyone involved, over and over. But I’ve lived with depression, PTSD, etc., all these years and I cry about it still. The older I get, the more loss I feel.
I found my adult child 15 years ago. It started out OK and went downhill from there. My heart aches so much to have a connection with this child of mine. I’m shutting down inside while still waiting. I’m too tired to keep going on. My dreams are gone. My hopes are shattered. I’m ready to curl up and die. What can I do?
— Destroyed in Washington
I am sorry for your overwhelming pain. What you need to do — and quickly, before you shut down further — is summon the strength to seek help from a licensed mental health professional.
Forty-five years ago, attitudes about out-of-wedlock births were far different than they are today. Neither you nor the father of that child were equipped to properly care for the baby. Because you have forgiven everyone else over and over, it is time to find a way to forgive yourself and put a stop to your endless grieving.
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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Dear Abby: Husband makes a connection as 17-year marriage teeters